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Lessons from Obamaís snub

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IMAGE: Nigerian ambassador to US, Prof Ade Adefuye »

Recent media reports indicate that the United States Government has excluded Nigeria from the list of countries, to be visited by President Barak Obama on his second tour of the African continent. Sources in US had revealed that before the announcement, the Nigerian ambassador to US, Prof Ade Adefuye was invited to the State Department by senior US officials where he was officially informed on the US concerns about security and corruption in Nigeria. Indeed the officials led by the acting Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Donald Yamamoto, reportedly presented the Nigerian ambassador with satellites photographs of the alleged Baga massacre, alleging that it made Nigeria’s inclusion in President Obama’s itinerary extremely difficult.

On May 17th, US secretary of state John Kerry had issued a public statement that  ‘for the first time the US had in its custody credible allegations against the country’s security forces in the implementation of the emergency rule’ recently declared by President Goodluck Jonathan in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States of Nigeria. He further stated that, “we are also deeply concerned by credible allegations that Nigerian security forces are committing gross human rights violation, which, in turn only escalate the violence and fuel extremism”. He concluded that “the United States condemns Boko Haram’s campaign of terror in the strongest term.

We urge Nigeria’s security forces to apply disciplined use of force in all operations, protect civilians on any security response and respect human rights and the rule of law”.

Earlier, reports claimed that besides the Baga incident, which is regarded as the immediate reason for the snub by the US government, the State Department had been presented with facts on how President Jonathan’s administration had allegedly abandoned the fight against corruption, in particular by pardoning the former governor of Bayelsa State , Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. The report also stated that the US officials were said to be concerned about the controversial reports it had received regarding two important Federal Government ministries, namely Petroleum Resources and Aviation. The decision to exclude Nigeria it seemed had been concluded after the May 17th announcement.

While this decision is quite contentious, especially coming at a time President Jonathan has shown a renewed commitment and determination by his government to combat terrorism and the debilitating effects of the corruption monster, we believe that there is a lesson to be learnt from this snub.

The government needs to know that Nigeria still commands the respect of the US, if only it could be more thorough and decisive with the implementation of its programs and agenda. It is still believed in international circles that the United States government still regards the country as its African anchor.

The thinking is that these reforms and war against corruption and terrorism seemed to have lost touch with the core values which Nigeria in particular and the international community in general need, to support and appreciate the efforts of the government. The question is, where are the cherished values of transparency, integrity, honesty, and discipline in the entire process?

Only recently, a United States government report on Nigeria “indicted Nigerian officials of widespread and pervasive corruption, affecting all levels of government”. The report published under the heading, ‘Corruption and lack of transparency in government,’ claimed that “officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.”The report indicated that   “almost $7 billion must have been stolen in the period under review” which was 2012 and again “There was a widespread perception judges were easily bribed and litigants could not rely on courts to render impartial judgments. Citizens encountered long delays and alleged requests from judicial officials for bribes to expedite cases or obtain favorable rulings,” the report further stated.

President Jonathan on paper is passionate about the Nigerian project, but this latest development should be seen by the government as a reality check on the country’s perceived eminent position in Africa. Two decades ago, the country was considered a frontline state in Africa by the international community, but of late Nigeria’s profile has sunken so low that it has become a laughing stock in the international arena. While we appreciate the effort of the government in tackling these issues, we also urge the administration to have a rethink on some of its methods and strategies in combating these problems which have not achieved the desired goals or objectives. The government should do everything possible within its power to return this country to the path of honor. Indeed leadership should be seen as service and not opportunity for individuals to amass wealth and satisfy vain glory. It should scale down on rhetoric and walk the talk.

Article Credit: Daily Independent Newspaper

Updated 6 Years ago

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