Gaddafi28-300x195From all indications, with the capture of Bab al-Aziziya, Muammar Gaddafi’s compound and his stronghold of power, the six-month old war in Libya has come to an end. The rebel fighters wildly celebrated this fit with endless gunshots fired into the air. They went into the buildings in the compound searching for Gaddafi and his family but they were nowhere to be found. It is no surprise that almost all the teeming youths in Gaddafi’s compound, obviously on the rebels’ side bore weapons.

This again raised questions concerning the claims and counter-claims of the capture of three of Gaddafi’s children: Saif al Islam, Mohammed and Saadi. Though no word came from Mohammed and Saadi, Saif al Islam was seen on Tuesday, August 23 moving about freely in the streets of Tripoli and acknowledging cheers from his father’s loyalists. He claimed that whatever the rebels said about his capture was mere propaganda, that he was safe and so were his father and the rest of his family and that they would never leave Libya. From Benghazi, the National Transitional Council maintained that Gaddafi’s rule had come to an end and that the rebels were in control of Tripoli. However, the conflicting information of Saif al Islam’s capture and his sudden reappearance is a sign of crack on the rebels’ side. This did not encourage their supporters. But when they conquered Bab al-Aziziya and with Gaddafi and his family on the run, the world then came to know which side was telling the truth. Propaganda is also a good weapon of warfare and Gaddafi and his children made good use of it.

I have never seen war in my life. I don’t pray to see any. By the time I was born, a couple of years had passed since my people fought the Nigeria-Biafran War of 1967-1970. As a child, I lived with elders who witnessed the war and some who fought. I have learnt the true story of the war especially how my people suffered. None of those who saw the war ever wishes to relive such experience. Those of us who merely heard the stories, in so far as we acknowledge the gallantry of my people and their ingenuity, would ever pray to see the war. No country which fought any war ever remains the same. In fact, my people have not completely shed the toga of the war so much so that a former president of Nigeria called us a defeated people. The wounds of war are not easily healed.

Due to the availability of weapons used in the Nigeria-Biafran War some of which remained afterwards in wrong hands, some bad elements turned them against the people. That mainly contributed to the rise in crime rate especially armed robbery after the war. Apart from that, there came to be the unnecessary disparity between those who went to war and those who did not. Those who went to war claimed and were treated with greater importance. The war also raised some undue tribal consciousness in Nigerians and today, Nigeria seems to be a name only and the oil and national cake based on it hold the citizens together. You hardly find any person ready to die for the country. This inclination to tribes or ethnic origins is much more pronounced in the so called national character especially in national appointments where expertise is sacrificed on the altar of ethnicity.

Furthermore, the three R’s of rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation were never implemented. The National Youth Service Corps introduced by the Gowon regime to heal the wounds of the war in 1973 has not achieved its aim till today. Instead, in the recent time, it has renewed the wounds of the war especially after the post election crisis of April 2011, where some corps members were cold-bloodedly murdered in some northern states of Nigeria. Since then, there have been strident calls for abolition of National Youth Service scheme from different quarters. These buttress the fact of how bad war is even if it lasts for a day.

It is true Libya is an oil-rich country and that there is a summit currently going on in Qatar to unfreeze some of its assets running into billions of dollars to aid the new Libya without Gaddafi. But no one can deny that it will take much more human and material resources to rebuild the infrastructures that were completely razed down during the war and to resettle those who were displaced. For the time being, it is obvious that many people especially the youths of Libya will roam about the streets without jobs. An idol mind is the devil’s workshop. This may however depend on how hardworking the Libyans are. The Igbo race which was badly affected by the Nigerian Civil War was able to recover quickly because of its industriousness and not because of any government’s aid. If the Libyan population can work hard like that, they may recover sooner than anticipated.

Furthermore, as I watched the weapons stockpiled in Gaddafi’s compound being carted away by the victorious opposition forces, mainly youths, I wondered to what use they would be put. Many of them had learnt to operate such weapons during the war and it is always a fact that after the war, the fighters are more often than not abandoned by the government especially in Africa. This type of attitude may make the youths resort to crime ‘till the economy improves’. This will be a very sad development for the country. I think it will be good for the government of Libya, in its best interest to adopt the policy of cash-for-arm so as to induce the youths in illegal possession of arms to surrender them to the government for better usage, probably, by law enforcement agents.

The Libyans should always be mindful of both the financial and human prices paid to get rid of Gaddafi and his government. During the Nigeria-Biafran War, the Biafran catchword was, “A person surrounded by the enemies is always on guard. Children of Biafra, you must be awake”. In the same way, the Libyans should not be carried away by their victory over Gaddafi and go to sleep. They must have a firm hold of this victory or else, if Gaddafi’s heartlessness makes him regroup and return, the rebels may be taken unawares. There can be no complete victory without capturing Gaddafi and make him face justice. As at Wednesday, 24th August, the forces loyal to Gaddafi still pounded Bab al-Ziziya under the control of the rebel forces with heavy weapons. This means that Gaddafi is yet to accept defeat. An audio message attributed to him was issued on Wednesday morning, urging different tribes of Libya to take up arms to purify Libya of the rebels’ unholy incursion because they are infidels. There is doubt whether Gaddafi actually issued the message because the voice was not as coarse and brutal as his. Be that as it may, this is not the first time he had issued this message since his decline began but they have all been ineffective.

As the victorious National Transition Committee prepares to relocate to the capital, Tripoli in a few days’ time from Benghazi, it must bear in mind that it is coming to resurrect Libya from the debris in which Gaddafi buried it. It must therefore not embark on any form of vengeance. It has to make moves to institute a true process of reconciliation that will bring the whole country together with less emphasis on the tribes in order to achieve the common goal of a united Libya where everybody is equal. The NTC should make haste to put in place a democratic government where Libyans will have a say. 

I must praise in a special way the Libyans’ courage to fight and dethrone Gaddafi. I salute the NATO countries for coming to the aid of the suffering Libyan people to save them from Gaddafi’s brutality. They further have the great job of helping to stabilize the country after the ravages of the war. At the same time, the allied countries should divest themselves of any selfish interests in Libya except genuine business interests as this will help dismiss Gaddafi’s insinuation that they went to war for Libya’s oil. It is of great interest to note that if the wealth of Libya is not shared in this new dispensation to reach all sons and daughters of the country, it will be termed mere change of uniform for Gaddafi. It is high time Gaddafi stopped further self deception of hoping to return to power and surrender to the new government. May the innocent souls he murdered rest in peace.

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