Ambassador John Campbell, former American ambassador to Nigeria and now of the American Council of Foreign Relations needs to introduction to Nigerians. After reading his Nigeria in Never Never Land essay on the website nigeriavillagesquare.com, I couldn’t help but think that the former U.S diplomat is on a mission to help actualise the doomsday prophecy of the American CIA which had predicted in 2005 that Nigeria will disintegrate as a nation within 15 years. They say that to kill a dog, you will have to give it a bad name. Therefore it is not surprising that Mr Campbell is once again travelling a very familiar road with his anarchy coloured essay. This is not out of character though as his utterances and activities since he left Nigeria seems to confirm his true motives.
Compared to his compatriots (Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders and Ambassador Walter Carrington), both former U.S ambassadors to Nigeria, a friend of Nigeria Mr Campbell is surely not. We now at least know who our true friends are. Our friends are those that do not always see what’s not good about us, rather they are the ones that can use their position and influence and help to us to improve our democratic process, attract foreign investors and not scare them away with Hollywood influenced tales. Perhaps one should not be surprised with the position taken by Mr Campbell in his recent essay on Nigeria, it is consistent with the hidden motives of the west and their allies to promote conflicts in foreign lands and then cash in at the same time through arms sales, humanitarian aid etc. The Hollywood movie ‘Wag the Dog’ best depicts this American practice.
Reading Mr Campbell’s essay, you can’t help but sympathise with Mr. Segun Aganga, Nigeria’s new Minister of Trade and Investment as his job has just been made much more challenging as he begins a mighty task of convincing foreign investors to come to Nigeria, not against the backdrop of the scary tales of the Campbells of this world. For Nigeria to develop, we need investments in the critical areas of infrastructural development, roads, power, housing etc. These can only come as FDIs but such inflows will be jeopardised if the Campbells of this world keep painting the picture of Nigeria as a doomed economy to the outside world.
While accepting that Nigeria is facing some challenges, so also are other countries including America. America grapples daily with hurricanes and other natural disasters that lead to loss of human lives and damage to properties. Lagos experiences one bad spell of flooding and Mr Campbell conveniently dumps it on the doorsteps of Mr Jonathan, these Americans are funny. I didn’t hear Mr Campbell in his essay speak about how his organisation or country will support some of the victims as is the practice worldwide during such disasters. I remember that the Nigerian government donated 1 million dollars to the American government in aid of victims of Hurricane Katrina. We did not question or query the state of preparedness of the Americans. This is the most civil thing to do; anything else is pure mischief as Mr Campbell has shown with his writing.
The Jonathan presidency is just 2 months old, too bad the President inherited a lot of these social, political, religious and economic issues but solving these could not have been done in just 2 months. The President has been talking about transformation and it is only natural that he be allowed and given time to show Nigerians if he is just only talk, without any action. It is rather too early and distracting to be throwing the punches.
I was first drawn to Mr Campbell’s essay by a post made by Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, my friend on Facebook on his wall. The Mallam now turned emergency social critic and activist seems to be pleased that Mr Campbell had referenced his recent encounter with the SSS over his article on the cost of running government in Nigeria. Perhaps the SSS may have been a little overzealous in their handling of the El-Rufai matter but I must say that I find Mallam El-Rufai’s recent self-righteous posturing nauseating, considering that he was a prince in the Obasanjo and Yar’Adua governments. His activities both at the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) and at the Federal Capital Territory Ministry have remained subjects of negative public criticisms. Having since been sidelined by the Jonathan government, he now uses his membership of the editorial board of This Day newspaper and the platform of his Friday column in the newspaper to attack the government. But true to character, Nigerians should not expect El-Rufai to see anything good in the Jonathan government as his party, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) lost heavily in the recently concluded general elections.
Not everyone is buying John Campbell’s thesis. In a rejoinder published on the same website, Reno Omokri, a political campaign strategist writes that Mr Campbell’s recent attacks was borne out of the grudges he still harbours against the Nigerian state “for the loss of the substantial financial honorarium that would have accrued to him had his visa application to visit Nigeria in order to deliver a graduation lecture at the American University Of Nigeria in Yola as a member of its governing council not been denied”. He went on to accuse Mr Campbell of double standards since “he only applied for a visa less than a week to his travel date and even at that submitted no documentation to establish his status as a member of that university’s governing council”, and that he had only himself to blame for the visa denial. Mr Omokri wondered what would have been the fate of a Nigerian who submitted an application for a U.S. visa a week to his travel date and without documentation during the time Mr. Campbell was the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria.
Maybe the time has come for the Nigerian government to wage its own information war against people like John Campbell and expose them for who they are, opportunists looking to exploit the developmental challenges of developing economies for their personal aggrandisement and for the benefit of their home countries.