Disparate comments and reactions have trailed the visit to Nigeria of the American Secretary of State, Senator Hillary Clinton. While AFENIFERE commends the country for successfully hosting this foremost female Diplomat, we will admonish restraint in weighing the value of her visit.
Mrs. Clinton On Corruption, Bad Leadership, Electoral Reforms:
Madam Clinton told us nothing new about ourselves. She pinpointed bad leadership, corruption and flawed elections as drawbacks to our country’s development and the key culprits for our backwardness. Nigerians have always known these facts. Therefore, AFENIFERE is not concerned about what Mrs. Clinton said as much as we are concerned about our leaders’ reaction to what she said. Unfortunately, government representatives have reacted negatively to her enlightened observations instead of making a firm commitment to seeking solutions to the malaises that she identified. This outpouring of vituperations by Nigeria’s ruling class casts politicians as diehard sinners who, rather than repent, wish to continue sliding down the path of perdition. One would have thought that instead of grandstanding, our pompous political leaders would regard Clinton’s observations as a clinical diagnosis that only they themselves can provide with healing. After all, our people say only a friend can muster the courage to tell his friend that his mouth smells foully. Mrs. Clinton’s diagnosis and prescriptions, like those of President Barack Obama her boss, deserve urgent attention. We must show the world we have the moral and political will to stop corruption, electoral fraud and bad leadership.
Needed, US Assistance On Corruption:
On its own part, the US (as we will similarly demand of other Western Nations) should also walk its talk on the fight against corruption in Nigeria. US leaders will convince us more about their readiness to assist us in combating corruption by a specific policy targeted at repatriating the proceeds of money laundered from Africa and hibernating in the banks of America and other receiver countries. The US must, for instance, push the Halliburton Graft Trial to a logical judicial conclusion, with appropriate sanctions for everyone indicted.
What The FG Should Do With EFCC:
The government should revamp the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in order to return it to the glory it attained under Malam Nuhu Ribadu, pioneer EFCC Chairman. In this regard, the witch-hunting of Ribadu must stop. Not only is it diversionary, it is counter-productive, unreasonable and internationally embarrassing. Instead, the Commission should endeavour to secure the prosecution and conviction of those politicians whose investigation it has concluded. Only this will make the international community take us seriously about our resolve to fight graft.
US Presence In The Niger Delta?:
Afenifere will ask Nigeria to reject the American Secretary of State’s offer of military assistance in the Niger-Delta. Simply put, the offer is standard American practice to push its enlightened self-interest through by hiding under an altruistic design. All this will only satisfy American desire for a strategic foothold in the Gulf of Guinea. Allowing US presence in the zone will be admitting through the back-door the George Bush-fashioned AFRICOM, which Nigeria refused to grant an operational base here and lobbied African countries to also reject, for the simple reason that such a Force will compromise our Sovereignty and territorial integrity. It also violates Nigeria’s traditional non-aligned stance. The Niger-Delta has international implications indirectly; but any Military solution must be 100 percent local.
Even then, Military solution has always failed in the Niger-Delta. Can we soon forget the international embarrassment the Nigerian government recorded with the Lt. Col. Dauda Komo-headed Internal Security Task Force and in past Military campaigns in Odi and Choba. Now we have the Joint Task Force. None of these Military interventions have succeeded in quelling the crisis in the Niger-Delta. The Senate, House of Representatives, Governors’ Forum, the State Houses of Assembly and all Nigerians must sternly reject this impending American Military intervention.
Blood Oil Is Coming?:
If it means well, the Federal Government need not develop inferiority complex about its homegrown policy in the Niger-Delta as this amnesty deal has visibly lowered the temperature and incident of hostilities. This expression of desperation is unnecessary ill-advised and unstrategic at this time that every interest in the Niger-Delta, including militants and state governments have endorsed the amnesty deal. Far from being a viable option, US military presence on the land will only increase the heat.
Afenifere vehemently opposes American military presence in any inch of Nigeria and we urge both the National Assembly and the American Senate to veto any such request placed before them.
Never must we allow our Fellow Countrymen to be slaughtered for a foreign Nation’s aspiration for unrestricted access to cheap petroleum. The Nigerian government has taken the right step to seek the path of peaceful resolution of the Niger-Delta Question, beginning with the amnesty to militants. Government should continue to explore and expand this solution and other pacific political options to end the Niger-Delta crisis.
Chief Reuben Fasoranti, OFR