April 11, 2010

What should Jonathan ask of Obama?

What Nigeria needs is support for its programs and not a “roadmap” by the US on what it should do or not do.

Now that the Nigerian-US bilateral agreement has been signed and the US recognizes the strategic position of Nigeria, it is time for the Nigerian administration to focus on what it really requires from the Obama administration towards realising its ambition and aiding the political and economic liberation of Africa. There are a few focus projects that could rapidly accelerate this ends in Nigeria. Conducting free and fair elections is, of course, a given. Nothing else would eventually be working if the electorate are subverted in electing the candidate of choice in a free and democratic election. So what shall I require of the new found Jonathan-Obama relationship?
Nigeria is a Sovereign Partner
First, President Obama must realize that Nigeria is a sovereign partner and should be treated as an ally. No country would like to be dictated to and Nigeria is one of those. The pride of the country is still intact notwithstanding the negative publicity that is awash in the media about Nigerians and the leadership struggles in the country. No matter what Ag. President Jonathan requires of President Obama “aid” or ”handout” must never be part of it. Nigeria has got more than enough resources and potential worth exploring to take care of all its needs and handsomely reward any investors. On this premise must be based the Jonathan-Obama bilateral relationship. But both parties must be committed to the shared vision 100%. No arm twisting, no begging and no hit-and-run. What Nigeria needs is support for its programs and not a “roadmap” by the US on what it should do or not do. If they do not support Jonathan’s programs they must at least have the honour not to actively discourage it.
Nuclear Power Plant for Nigeria
With the foregoing the one thing Ag. President Jonathan must discuss with President Obama is the founding of a nuclear power plant in Nigeria. To be energy self sufficient in the future Nigeria needs to start planning for at least one mega nuclear power plant to generate the kind of energy needed for energy independence and sustainable economic growth. Now is the time to start negotiating with the support of the Obama administration for this to be actualized. Participation of US investors in the IPP sector should also be given fillip at this summit. The Nigerian energy sector is a gold mine waiting to be primed. Ag. President Jonathan must market this potential at the summit and pass policies back home that would facilitate this potential
The Anti-corruption War
The Nigerian governments anti-corruption war must also be fought not only by the Nigerian government but with the support of the Obama administration against the corrupting influences of big multinationals and big business interests. The fact of the Halliburton case shows clearly that international bribery and corruption is sponsored by big multinational corporations. And this is the most threatening form of corruption in third world countries. It goes as far as funding regime changes and enthroning corrupt leaders and squandering public funds. The US is no stranger to this phenomena. If the Obama-Jonathan pact is going to work the Washington administration must crack down on corporate multinational corruption from its companies in Nigeria. Halliburton, Shell BP, Chevron, Julius Berger…etc are some of the multinationals with huge influences in Nigerian politics and are often allied with powerful corrupt officials, traditional leaders, local leaders, etc in the country. Year after year, billions of contracts, oil blocks etc are awarded to these multinationals through corrupt processes. Planned projects never get completed and the contract value is fully paid out and these companies return huge profits home. First it was the European, Russian and American multinationals now many Chinese companies are entering the fray. Given that the system is often corrupt in Nigeria but equally corrupt multinationals have taken advantage of this and have perpetuated it. Jonathan needs the Obama administration’s will to tackle this monster now.
The US Central Command – Africa (AfriCom)
This is a particularly thorny issue but my feeling is that Nigeria would benefit enormously from the establishment of AfriCom in Nigeria. What benefit – first the military would become more stable with a relationship with a professional army that is fully aligned with its constitutional role. Ag. President Jonathan should start discussion with all stakeholders in Nigeria and US towards founding the AfriCom in Nigeria. A location in the southeast (Oguta) or soutsouth (Calabar) would be good, avoiding the sensibilities of the more Muslim north.
Other areas
Other areas the Nigeria government can learn from the US administration is the establishment of a credible national ID system and database. The national youth service corps. program should be run as a full Para-military organisation and corpers should be military reservists. Their use in election administration is commendable and has worked out so good so far. The future of Africa is, I repeat, bound with the future of Nigeria.
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Anonymous said...

I agree with most of your acsertion, except two things, one,The formattion of Africom in Nigeria,No right thinking Nigerian will allow its backyard to be used as a staging point to distabilise other places and ultimately Nigeria itself,the dis advantages surpases the advantages.The Nigerian Military is capable of policing its territory, and won't need any superpower to help them do that.If Africom is allowed to stay, the south eastern Nigeria will gain indepence from United states and not from Nigeria, in the nearest future.
Secondly,You said the future of Africa is bound with the future of Nigeria.I totally disagree, with that, other African Nations, such as Ghana,Libya, Tunisia, South-Africa,to mention a few are getting better without us.The future of Nigeria lies solenly with Nigerians.No country will love Nigeria more than Nigerians themselves.
No one paddle canoe outwards, it is always inward toward ones self, that is the way it is and will always be,if the Africom thing should be a most, there are hundreds of arid lands in the sahara.but not in the oil exploring region.
Before we know it, some one will attack their base and retaliation will commence and counter retaliation, then a factional war will ensued.
The only thing the outside world don't know about Nigeria, is that the most greedy person is in most cases the most sensible person.
Even when Nigeria is corrupt, they are sensible enough to know a trap when they see one.

St Eugene said...

Nigeria would benefit most from AfriCom in Nigeria. The US is the best ally Nigeria can have. Think of what they did in Europe (after the war - the Marshall plan), think of what they did in Japan, South Korea, UAE, Kuwait etc. The US is a far better ally than any European country including Britain. Believe it or not, if the US wanted AfriCom sited in Africa they would eventually get it. It is to Nigeria's best interest not to act as second fiddle.

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