THOMAS SANKARA: The Role France Played in His Assassination?
On Wednesday, Burka Faso’s former President Blaise Compaoré was found guilty and received a life sentence in absentia for his role in the assassination of his charismatic predecessor, Thomas Sankara. But was Compaoré’s action inspired, orchastrated and backed by France?
Sankara, 37, was gunned down along with 12 others during the 1987 coup d’état that brought Compaoré to power.
The pair had been close friends and had jointly seized power in 1983.
Sankara remains a hero for many across Africa because of his anti-imperialist stance and austere lifestyle.
After seizing power at the age of just 33, the Marxist revolutionary known by some as “Africa’s Che Guevara”, campaigned against corruption and oversaw huge increases in education and health spending
The prosecution said Sankara was lured to his death at a meeting of the ruling National Revolutionary Council.
He was shot in the chest at least seven times, according to ballistics experts who testified during the trial.
Sankara’s widow, Mariam Sankara, who attended the trial throughout, said the verdict represented “justice and truth” after a 35-year wait.
“Our goal was for the political violence we have in Burkina Faso to come to end. This verdict will give many people cause for thought.”
However, there is little prospect that Compaoré will serve his sentence any time soon. He has lived in exile in Ivory Coast since he was removed from office following mass protests in 2014, and has taken up Ivorian nationality.
He previously denounced the trial by a military court as a political sham.
Ten others were also found guilty, including Compaoré’s security chief Haycinthe Kafando, who was accused of leading the hit squad that killed Sankara.
He has been on the run for several years and was also tried in absentia. He too received a life sentence.
They had both denied the charges.
Gilbert Diendéré, one of the commanders of the army during the 1987 coup and the main defendant who was actually present at the trial, was also sentenced to life. He is already serving a 20-year sentence for a coup attempt in 2015.
Meanwhile, in February, 2013, Emile Schepers, a veteran civil and immigrants rights activist wrote the following article he titled “People’s World Demand for inquiry into France’s role in assassination of African leader” published in People’s World:
On February 13, a member of the French Chamber of Deputies tabled a motion to begin a parliamentary investigation of the assassination of Captain Thomas Sankara, President of Burkina Faso, in 1987.Sankara, who himself took power in a coup d’état in 1983, was a progressive and charismatic leader who is sometimes referred to as Africa’s Che Guevara. Succeeding a regime seen as subservient to France, Sankara changed the name of his country from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, which means land of men of integrity. He was considered incorruptible, and gained the love and support of poor Burkinabés (as the people of Burkina Faso are called) because of his programs of land reform, agricultural development, improved health care and schools and other similar things. Two very popular emphases of Sankara’s policies were the improvement in the situation of women and the curtailment of the traditional powers of tribal chiefs, who were seen by many as corrupt. He nationalized all land and subsoil wealth of Burkina Faso. But in 1987, he was overthrown and killed in a military coup organized by Blaise Compoaré, at that time a military officer also, and now president of Burkina Faso. The reason given for the coup was that Sankara’s nationalizations and anti-imperialist rhetoric were angering the French and neighboring African countries aligned with France. With Sankara out of the way, many of his progressive policies were reversed, including the nationalizations.
But Sankara’s supporters have not forgotten him in the ensuing 26 years, and have kept up a campaign to achieve justice for Sankara, and a return to his progressive socialist policies.The belief that France and perhaps the United States were involved in the overthrow and killing of Sankara did not come from nowhere. Besides the flat statement by the Compoaré group that they overthrew Sankara because he was annoying the French, many of the individuals who have carried out coups in Africa have been former French or French colonial army officers, and the involvement of French security services and business interests in such actions is well known. The CIA has also been involved in several coups, most notably in the overthrow of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in 1960 and of Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah in 1966. In each case, the leader overthrown and/or killed was seen as a threat to French, U.S. or other western business interests because of his progressive policies.Earlier this year, the French newspaper Liberacion published a story which strongly suggests some sort of French security involvement in the incident in 1994 in which an airplane carrying the presidents of Burundi and Rwanda was shot down over the Rwandan capital of Kigali, an incident which helped trigger the Rwandan genocide and some other current conflicts in Central Africa.People in Burkina Faso cannot get at the necessary French government records under normal circumstances.So in 2011, a group of Burkinabé parliamentarians wrote to the French National Assembly calling for it to begin an inquiry into the Sankara assassination. A motion to that effect has now been tabled in the lower house of the National Assembly by Andre Chassaigne, a deputy from the French Communist Party. A guest from Burkina Faso’s left-wing Union pour la Renaissance/Parti Sankariste, Me Benewende Stanislas Sankara, attended the 36th Congress of the French Communist Party this month. On returning to Burkina Faso, he participated in a press conference in the Burkinabé capital, Ouagadougou, to advance the same demands.Mr. Chassaigne’s motion coincides with an increasing level of U.S., French and NATO involvement in African affairs, including an exponential expansion of U.S. military missions under the AFRICOM command. The latest is that the Republic of Niger is now allowing the U.S. to set up drone bases in the Southern part if its territory, near the border with Mali.It’s necessary that we in the United States also be ready to demand answers from our own government.
ALIA: The Uphill Task Before Benue Gov.-Elect
Will the clergy undo the negative impacts of past administrations?
May 29 is a day many Nigerians look forward to as it marks the transition to a new government at the center and in most states of the country.
Benue State in particular will witness the inauguration of a clergyman as governor for the second time and transition from a ruling party to an opposition for the second time too.
This is why the Benue Valley is agog. The people are already preparing their drums, flutes, and other musical instruments as well as their cultural regalia for the D-day.
But beyond the anticipated funfair, there are herculean tasks that the incoming governor, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia must perform once inaugurated to restore the state on the path of development.
Finding Permanent Solution To Farmers/Herders Clashes
Insecurity is the major challenge of Benue State, and farmers/herders clashes form the bulk of the challenge.
Alia’s soon-to-be predecessor, Governor Samuel Ortom based his administration on containing the farmers/herdsmen crisis which he inherited from the previous government.
However, despite being vocal about the killings and enacting the Benue Anti-Open Grazing Law, Ortom’s administration did not achieve much in resolving the farmers/herdsmen crisis.
Shortly after the signing of the law which prohibits open grazing of cattle and other livestock, 73 villagers were murdered in Governor Ortom’s home local government of Guma on January 1st, 2018.
The state has witnessed the most attacks in its history under Ortom’s watch.
The Governor himself stated that the attacks have left the state with “over 2 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and 10000 refugees from Cameroon.”
With that kind of humanitarian issue, the incoming Alia-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration must brace up.
The just-concluded election that produced Alia as the governor of the state was trailed by herdsmen militia attacks on communities in Apa, Otukpo, Agatu, Guma, and Gwer West local government areas.
Hundreds of residents were reportedly killed in the attacks, with thousands displaced.
The Alia administration must make it a priority to explore peaceful means to find a permanent solution to the farmers/herdsmen crisis that has been ravaging the state for decades.
Benue State is one of the least developed states in Nigeria in terms of infrastructure and industries despite its huge human and natural resources.
Most of the state roads linking local government areas are in bad shape. The majority of the markets, schools, hospitals and other government facilities in the state are either in ruins or dilapidated.
Makurdi, the state capital, is a town that still lacks the luxury of flyovers and digital billboards. It first sighted traffic lights barely two years ago.
Otukpo, a major town in the state, is known for its inglorious red sand as a result of bad roads and dilapidated infrastructures.
Most industries in the state such as Benue Breweries, Benue Cement Company, Benue Links Transport Company, Taraku Oil Mills, Katsina-Ala Fruit Factory, Otukpo Burnbricks, Igumale Cement Factory, and Owukpa Coal Mill are in comatose.
The tourism sector has also collapsed
The infrastructural challenges in Benue State are so enormous that the incoming Alia administration will require deliberate and vehement tactics to tackle them.
Backlog Payment And Improved Civil Service Welfare System
Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia will inherit a hungry and angry Civil Service. Benue is a civil service state – the huge salary backlog ordinarily means the state is currently lying in penury.
At the local government level, teachers are owed 11 months; workers are owed 10 months arrears of salary. At the state level, workers are owed eight months and pensioners are owed 38 months, respectively.
Alia must within the first few months of his administration hit the ground running by clearing the embarrassing salary backlogs, including pensions and gratuities.
In addition to that, he must position the state civil service for better staff welfare. He must also tackle the issues of nepotism and tribalism in the service.
Furthermore, Alia must create more employment opportunities for the teeming Benue youths through massive recruitment in the civil service, provision of skills acquisition centers, and creation of agro-based industries.
Concerned stakeholders say it’s regrettable that despite farming being the major occupation in Nigeria, Benue which prides itself as “The Food Basket Of The Nation” is still battling with the cancer of youth unemployment and its associated issues, prostitution, cultism and thuggery.
Creating skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled jobs would go a long way in tackling the social vices in the state.
Source: Sunny Green Itodo, Daily Post
Culture & Tourism
GUMA: Land Flowing With Milk & Honey
Guma Local Government Area was created out of the old Makurdi Local Government Area in 1987 by the then regime of Col. Fidelis A. Makka. The Local Government is name after ‘River Guma’ in Benue State.
Guma Local Government Area has it’s headquarters in Gbajimba
(The name Gbajimba derived from Hausa word ‘Banjiba’ which means: ‘I don’t understand’. As years go by, the name began to lose it original pronounciation. Hence the name ‘Gbajimba’).
DISTANCE FROM MAKURDI:
37km (An hour journey)
Guma has Logo Local Government Area to the east, Makurdi and Tarka Local Government Areas to the south and Doma Local Government Area of Nassarawa State to the West
The major town in Guma Local Government Area areGbajimb
240,000 square KM
By 2006 Census, the local government had a total population of 191,599 people.
Though Guma local government is predominantly occupied by the Tiv people, other tribes too live in Guma, they are Jukun, Hausa, and Kabuwa.
COUNCIL WARDS OR DISTRICTS AND POLLING UNITS:
Mbayer or Yandev
Guma local government has One Hundred and Sixty polling units.
Guma shares a Federal House of Representative seat with Makurdi local government and has one seat House of Assembly seat. Guma people have a culture just like their Tiv brothers and sisters.
Ajo, Ihanga and
So many folk singers.
Life Stock Farming:
Trading is another feature in Guma local government as can be seen in and around the markets located in the area strategically.
Crafts and blacksmith are known handiwork in the area. The people of Guma local government are known for the production of:
For domestic and commercial purposes.
Guma is served with roads linking most parts with the state capital, Makurdi and Nassarawa state.
Guma also makes use of water transport as river Gbajimba is linked with river Benue.
GOV. ORTOM @60: The Journey of Grace
Governor Samuel Ioraer Ortom of Benue State clocks 60 years of age today. As the philantropist but often-embattled leader of the people of Benue basin marks this day, Inside Beneu takes a look at his biography of God’s grace.
Ortom was born on the 23rd of April, 1961 in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State, Nigeria. At the age of nine, he started his primary education at St. John’s Primary School, Gboko in 1970. He later switched to St. Catherine Primary School Makurdi in 1974. It was here he completed his primary education in 1976.
Upon completion of his primary education, the young Samuel was enrolled at the Idah Secondary Commercial College, Idah, Kogi State for his secondary education. But the journey was short lived as he was forced to drop out of school due to financial condition after his father retired from job.
Back home at Gboko, he engaged himself at the motor park as a tout until found him and recommended him to drive a prominent Gbokk-based Christian leader and politician, Late Pa Samu Ihugh.
Not giving up his dream to be educated, Samuel Ortom later enrolled in the National School of Salesmanship through an advert he saw on a newspaper he found while on duty at Pa Ihugh’s residence. Thus, he began his journey of acquiring education and certificate via correspondence.
He later in this manner, obtained the General Certificate of Education as well as the Diploma in Salesmanship. He further enrolled at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, obtaining both the Interim Joint Matriculation Board Certificate, in 1995 and Diploma in Journalism in 1998. He proceeded to the Benue State University for an Advanced Diploma in Personnel Management in 2001 as well as Master of Public Administration in 2004.
Samuel Ortom also obtained a Doctor of Philosophy, Ph.D, from the Commonwealth University, Belize, through distant learning.
Career and Politics
Samuel Ortom’s working experience spans private, public as well as political spheres. He worked with the Gyado Foods Co. Limited, where he rose from the position of Salesman to Sales Manager.
He was proprietor and chairman, Oracle Business Limited the firm that owns Goshen Water which produces bottled and sachet water; Oracle Printing Press, Oracle Oil Mills as well as Oracle Farms Limited. He was also the chairman of Capital Prints Limited and Achive Engineering Limited.
Chief Dr. Ortom has served as the National President of the Independent Print-Media Publishers Association of Nigeria, IPPAN, and at the moment is the patron of the association.
He was appointed chairman of the governing council of the Standards Organization of Nigeria, SON, where he served with commitment and dedication.
Chief Dr. Samuel Ortom served as the Executive Chairman of Guma Local Government Area from 1991 to 1993 on the platform of the Social Democratic Party, SDP.
He has also handled several top political positions, both in Benue State and beyond. Some of them include; State Publicity Secretary of the National Centre Party of Nigeria(NCPN); State Treasurer of the All Peoples Party (APP); State Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as well as PDP National Auditor.
He also served as the Director of Operations of the PDP gubernatorial campaign in Benue State in 2007 and Director of Administration and Logistics of the Goodluck/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organization in 2011.
He got appointed as Minister of State Trade and Investments in July 2011, during Goodluck Jonathan tenure as president.
He contested and won the seat the Governor of Benue State in April 2015 under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In July 2018, Ortom announced his departure from All Progressives Congress as a result of an internal party crisis.
He was reelected as governor in the 2019 elections, having polled 434,473 votes while the runner up Emmanuel Jime of the All Progressive Congress polled 345,155 votes. Jime legally challenged Ortom’s victory and filed a petition on the grounds of substantial noncompliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended. The Supreme Court of 21st January 2020, affirmed Samuel Ortom’s election as the governor of Benue State.
Dr. Samuel Ortom is a philanthropist who believes in giving back to the society. He, through the establishment of Oracle Business Limited Foundation, set aside funds in St. Theresa’s Hospital, Makurdi and Rahama Hospital, Gboko Road, Makurdi, for treatment of hernia and snakebites free of charge to the patients.
Oracle Business Limited Foundation also focuses on alleviating hardship for prison inmates, while also offering them various forms of skills acquisition for better reintegration into the society.
Awards and Recognition
Samuel Ortom’s good governance and philantropic activities have earned him numerous awards recognitions, including:
• Selfless Service Award from the National Union of Benue State Students (UniCal Chapter) (2014)
• Best Performing Local Government Chairman (1992)
• Merit Award by Tiv Youths Organization
• Merit Award by Boy Scouts of Nigeria, Benue State Chapter
• Merit Award by International Affairs Leadership Parliament of Five American Christian Universities in the United States of America and Trinity College of Ministerial Arts, Aba
• Merit award by St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, High Level, Makurdi
• He has also received a special recognition from the Nigeria Union of Road Transport Workers at the national level.
• Merit Award by Nigeria Union of Teachers, Benue State Wing
• Merit Award by Genesis Youth Club, Makurdi.
• Merit Award by Leo Club of Makurdi (2002)
• Merit Award by Rotaract Club of Nigeria University of Agriculture, Makurdi
• Promoter of Nigeria’s Nascent Democracy, by Benue State Government (2006)
• Merit Award by School of Remedial Students Union, Makurdi (1996)
• Best Sales Manager Award by Pepsi-Cola International, African Region (1987)
• Merit Award by Benue State Joint Public Service Negotiating Council, 1, 11 and 111
• Patron Merit Award by Association of Journalism Students, Ahmadu Bello University (1997)
• National Fellowship/Merit Award by National Union of Road Transport Workers’ Union of Nigeria Nyamikyume in Nzorov
• Traditional Honorific Chieftaincy Title conferred by both the Nzorov District and Guma Local Government Area Traditional Councils Vande u Nongov
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