Libyans should take charge of their immense wealth

The death of Muammar Gaddafi has left Libya in a delicate and uncertain situation. He died a “tyrant”, but he is a man Libya will live to remember.

In 1969, at the age of 27, Gaddafi took over power in a bloodless military coup that toppled King Idris, and in 1970, he formulated his Third Universal Theory – a middle road between communism and capitalism, as was written in his Green Book.

Another step he took was to build strong armed forces. He also oversaw the development of Libya. Gaddafi invested money in big projects like steel plant in the town of Misrata. He also invested heavily to pipe water from the desert to the coastal communities.

He sort of embraced Pan–Arabism of the late Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser and tried by all means to merge Libya, Egypt and Syria in a federation but unfortunately he did not succeed.

Gaddafi also attempted to join Libya and Tunisia but the move ended in a big failure. In 1977 he changed the country’s name to the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, which implied the State of the masses.

The Western powers never liked his way of governance. They accused him of links with and sponsoring of terrorism and revolutionary movements within the Arab countries.

He was held responsible for the Lockerbie plane bombing in 1988 in which 270 people died.

Gaddafi changed the life of many Libyans from poverty to wealth – at least a family could boast of three square meals a day during his rule, unlike some oil producing countries whose citizens starve because of selfishness, bribery and corruption. One of such countries is Nigeria, the 6th largest oil producing nation in the world whose citizens live in abject poverty.

At the initial stage of the revolution in Libya, the Obama administration advised Gaddafi to work towards a transitional government that would carry out democratic elections but he blatantly refused.
During the NATO attack, Gaddafi who boasted of having a strong army equipped with modern jet bombers, missiles, etc. failed to strike down any NATO war plane. It is evident that he relied on his outdated war jet fighters.

Gaddafi could have relinquished power and formed a transitional government instead of killing innocent souls. He could have also learnt a lesson from what happened to the former President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, as a leader of an oil country.

The truth is, oil was the main reason why Western powers attacked Saddam and Gaddafi.

When will African leaders learn from their past mistakes? As a nation, if you don’t handle a precious thing given to you by God, those who don’t have it will  be jealous and exploit every avenue to have it. And if they eventually get it, they will use it to better the lives of their people and countries. That is exactly what is happening between the Western world and Africa.

African leaders, especially the African Union (AU), should take a strong position against invasion of African countries by foreign powers.

Now that Gaddafi has been eliminated and foreign powers are rushing in to exploit the country’s resources, Libyans should take charge and control their immense natural resources. They should not be influenced and manipulated by those who claim that they were the first to strike, and those who claim that they were the first to smuggle in war weapons to fight and get rid of Gaddafi.

Libyans should be prudent in this transitional period and carry out democratic elections as soon as possible.

Finally, I disagree with the decision of the Libyan transitional government not to hand over the body of Gaddafi to his family for burial. The family had the right to award him a dignified burial.

By Reginald Osuamadi