Letter: Britain has failed to support democracy in Nigeria

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Sir: You are to be congratulated on your leading article 'Grave danger in Nigeria' (29 August). As one who is personally involved in supporting Chief Moshood Abiola's legitimate claim to the presidency of Nigeria, I can state that your editorial was a brave, accurate statement of fact.

The people of Nigeria, having made their intentions clear in the 1993 presidential elections, now find that they are having to fight for not only the installation of the man of their choice, but also for his release from prison. The only weapon they have is that of withdrawing labour from the area that will hurt the self-appointed military miscreants the most - oil. The oil workers are now into their eighth week of this strike for democracy, justice and decency, this despite the collaboration of the multinational oil companies with an increasingly brutal regime. They are entitled to expect both help and support from all democratic nations.

Sadly, your call for a positive statement from the British government will fall on deaf ears. For despite the fact that many Conservative MPs and the whole of the Labour Party support Abiola in his brave stand on behalf of the people of Nigeria, the wistful captain of our 'ship of state', together with Douglas Hurd and Lady Chalker, set a course for Nigerian democracy and, having lashed themselves to the wheel, find that they now swing aimlessly some distance from the deck.

The Nigerian people still look to this country for leadership and cannot understand why 'the mother of parliaments' has turned its back on them and what is a crime against humanity of epic proportions.

Yours sincerely,

TOM ROBBINS

London, NW1

29 August

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