We can’t decide to ignore it. I know many are not to be ashamed of describing Nigeria as the “Giant Of Africa”, as opposed to what some political fanatics think and would want to say or have already said about that fact. Nigeria’s clout as “Big Brother” is well established in Africa, especially in the western sub-region, so, no serious international discussion on Africa would be held without the participation of Nigeria I stand to be corrected though if need be. Nigeria for the past decade has been playing the role of brotherhood thereby helping oust military junta governments in both Sierra Leone and Liberia, and most recently Mali where her Military missions ran into billions of dollars which raised eyebrows across the Nation and the world maybe. Nigeria the Giant of Africa. As at 2010, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with 150 million people, has long thought of itself as the continent’s beating heart. Its economy is Africa’s second-largest, and its international peacekeeping force — the world’s fourth-biggest — patrols across the region. But corruption that watchdogs rank among the world’s worst has kept most Nigerians in poverty. Infrastructure is poor, and generators power much of the country, Still, Nigeria is a key U.S. ally in West Africa, where drug trafficking and piracy are on the rise. Nigeria also is the fifth-largest oil supplier to the United States. Former American President Bush, whose anti-terrorism efforts were backed by then-Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, visited the nation in 2003.
On November 4, 2008, with the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, not just America but the world entered an era that could be called the Obama era. The American President is widely admired and his mode of governance is impacting public policies throughout the length and breadth of the United States as well as in many nations. “Yes We Can” has become more than a slogan. The change we believe in was related to Nigeria as it was not included in the list for the first ever visit of Obama to Africa. Mr Obama traveled to Accra, Ghana on the 10th of July 2009 passing over Kenya where his late father was from, given that it was too troubled to visit after Kenya a year after she exploded in political violence. That visit that year was considered enormously historic as it was the first time a black man was to be considered the most powerful man on earth. In picking Ghana over Kenya, the team responsible for the Obama’s movement, picked a bipartisan American favorite. President Bush had visited Ghana the year before and Ghana had named a major highway after him a move Mr bush appreciated by having what was described as a rare dinner at the white house for then Ghana’s President Mr Kufour. J.A Mills took over power in the next year in a peaceful handover in a region where coups were common. So as a model of governance, Mr Obama’s adviser’s concluded that Ghana was the place. A senior official said,” Because it is the first visit, it will allow to highlight these issues more” “We have have limited time and we tried to figure out where we could get the most out of limited time”.
When the White House announced that President Obama would be visiting Ghana, Nigerians read a different, glaring message between the lines: The American leader was not coming to their country. That Obama also did not visiting about 50 other African nations seems beside the point. Obama’s sojourn to small but stable Ghana has spawned an outpouring of soul-searching and self-flagellation about Nigeria’s image and dubious democracy. In his own words, Nobel Laureate Soyinka said “‘If Obama decides to grace Nigeria with his presence, I will stone him. The message he is sending by going to Ghana is so obvious, is so brilliant that he must not render it flawed by coming to Nigeria any time soon”. A statement which was addressed immediately by the presidency. The Nigerian Presidency, however, was swift to reply to Soyinka’s unpatriotic and ’embarrassing’ attitude. Ambassador Jibrin Chinade, Foreign Affairs special adviser to the Nigerian President, Umaru Yaradua, said ‘Soyinka’s statement which he is entitled to, is most unfortunate and undiplomatic because he chose the wrong venue and ended up embarrassing the Italian Ambassador who had invited him for an art exhibition,’ quoted This Day Newspaper in Nigeria. It’s most unfortunate that a prominent citizen like Soyinka seized the opportunity of a diplomatic invitation to attack his country, the Ambassador added. The Presidency has said, however that Nigeria has no problem at all with Obama visiting Ghana because Ghana is not only a friendly country but also a member of the ECOWAS, Which country to visit and when, is entirely the prerogative of a country and Nigeria has no problem whatsoever with whom Obama visits and when, we cannot predetermine it’.
The way and manner in which Nigeria’s then President now, late Umaru Yar’Adua’s took over office in 2007 and his slow progress, the conflict in the oil-rich Niger Delta was rumored to be the reason why Nigeria was not in the list, but Reuben Abati Editor of the Guardian Newspaper who is now a part of the presidential team said “”Most people believe it’s deliberate, not a mere oversight, and it’s a statement and the message is well conveyed,” “Nigerians are very angry with their government.”. Ambassador Chinade said in an interview ” “It was a nonissue,” “There is no message.”. An Obama administration official declined to say whether the president considered visiting Nigeria but said Ghana was chosen because it is “a model for other countries” in a region beset by “troubled elections and coups.”
2013 is now upon us, Mr Obama has come and gone from Africa again and for the second time Nigeria the behemoth of Africa was not in the list!. I think Kenya too was not there. Mr Obama graced Senegal , Tanzania and South Africa. His trip to South Africa according to Justice Malala, a south African commentator and columnist was overshadowed by the ill state of the African hero Nelson Mandela. The impact of the visit according to Malala will be blunted because the people’s attention was elsewhere. Getting back to why Nigeria didn’t make the list again this time, sources revealed that Prof Ade Adefuye the Nigerian ambassador to U.S was invited to the state department by senior officials where he was formally informed on the U.S concerns about security and corruption, it was reported that Donald Yamamoto acting assistant Secretary of State for Africa presented Prof Ade with satellite images of the alleged Baga massacre, saying that it made the inclusion of Nigeria in President Obama’s itinerary extremely difficult. John Kerry US Secretary of State had issued a public statement on the 17th of May about gross human rights violation by the security forces of Nigeria. The Diepreye Alamieyeseigha pardon I believe was also a factor.
But now Obama has invited President Goodluck Jonathan to New York for a meeting as announced by the US Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman. During the press briefing a question of whether the failure of Barack Obama to visit Nigeria during his last visit was a snub on Nigeria, Sherman jejely deflected! ewo o. Many believe it is a conspiracy to bully the President into making same-sex marriage the law, as against the reason of security and other issues that were mentioned; Nigerians no go kill me oo. Whatever comes, whatever does not, i speak still as a complete objective 3rd party with absolutely no interest in the matter.
- Obama invites Jonathan for meeting in New York (vanguardngr.com)