Ostentatious public pronouncement is the opposite of decorum and diplomatic finesse! But unfortunately, and boisterously, loud public pronouncement has become the mode d’emploi of America’s conduct of relations with Nigeria in recent years.
During this year, 2005, I have had good cause to write several commentaries, amongst which are the following: America, Versus Nigeria: Of Debts, Disintegration & Friendships, With Enemies; America Means Well For Nigeria; Oh Really?
In these public commentaries, I had wondered why the United States resorted to public condemnations and admonitions or pure “bad-belle” motivated reactions regarding issues Nigerian and Nigeria, considering the United States has a apparently cordial diplomatic trade with Nigeria and of course, close personal ties between current presidents of both countries?
During the preceding ten months, America has, in words and actions, portrayed itself, as if hostile to Nigeria’s national interests, including, a demonstration of hostility towards Nigeria’s security and economic interests, etc.
Why else would the United States, a nation supposedly friendly with Nigeria, always find itself frequently engaged in the throwing of verbal and undiplomatic projectiles and cudgels at Nigeria? Why do the representatives of the United States frequently display a lack of due care and circumspection regarding their boisterous pronouncements about Nigeria? As when they used bullhorns to announce that Nigeria would disintegrate in 15 years! A prediction, as ominous as it is, has since been updated and upgraded to occur in less than the original 15 years gestation period. And again, it was the US that opposed and created an impasse and the deadlock that eventually truncated Nigeria’s attempt at leading the African Development Bank. It has been the US that has loudly demanded Charles Taylor, a man granted asylum in Nigeria, after due consultation with the US and others. The US continues to threaten and blackmail Nigeria over Charles Taylor!
First, I strongly believe that Nigerians would in due course, resolve all the complex national contradictions amicably and peacefully, despite the competing and sometimes conflicting interests that are common in multicultural and plural societies such as Nigeria. We need to do these things for our own good, and not because the US or anyone else say so, demand it or threatens Nigeria.
Secondly, even assuming that there is a great probability of disintegration of Nigeria, or there was a risk of anarchy or war; how would a public announcement now by Nigeria’s friend, trading partner and strategic regional partner, the United States, help matters? What sort of an undermining and underhand friendship is this from the US?
Some have argued that the US means well for Nigeria and so, the US only engaged in altruistic and benevolent public warnings of impending anarchy, war and disintegration in Nigeria. But, what purpose does this tactic serve?
Why would my friend and neighbor put an advert on CNN to announce that my house has a fire-hazard, and proceed to announce to the whole world that his friend and neighbor stands the risk of loss by fire? All these occurs before my friend and neighbor speaks to me about the fire-hazard!
Yes! A good friend should warn you about your bad breath, just so you procure the best mouthwash in the market or preferably, make appointment to see your dentist!
But what good friend puts a paid announcement on Television, Radio and Newspapers to announce his opinion of your oral hygiene status before he speaks to you about it? Unless of course, your “friend” intended to humiliate and ridicule you!
Whatever happened to the use of government-to-government channels, diplomatic channels and the so-called back-water channels? Why all these destructive glib talking? What purpose does the US ambassador in Nigeria serve? And Nigeria’s ambassador in America, what role is left for him? Why can’t phone calls are made to Nigerian leaders? Why can’t special envoys be sent to Nigeria for the purpose of fact-finding and truth?
Again, our friend, America, has come one more time with unsolicited public pronouncements which essentially amount to offensive and undiplomatic remarks regarding Nigeria’s internal political schisms. And the US has a fair share of challenges imbued in multi-culture and plural societies. Why is America yanking Nigeria’s chains, even as it claims to know the complexities and political dynamics on the ground in Nigeria? Is America looking to push Nigeria over the cliff? Are they attempting to hurry the predicted disintegration? Are what we are seeing a sort of Blackmail-for-Charles Taylor Program? Why these incendiaries?
Rumors are rife, and speculations are abundant, that Nigeria’s current president is angling to succeed himself in office as president of Nigeria in 2007. Whereas 2007 completes the second term for President Obasanjo, for which he was duly elected in 2003.
The Constitution of Nigeria specifies term limits for pubic office holders, more specifically, for terms of four years of an upper limit of two terms, for state governors and the president of the federal republic of Nigeria. There are rumors to the effect that there is a third term agenda in the works. Speculations are rife, speculations which suggest that President Obasanjo has some hand in the agitations for constitutional amendment that will make self-succession possible for current state governors and the president himself.
President Obasanjo has repeatedly, emphatically and categorically denied this or roles in it that have been ascribed to him. Despite these unsavory rumors, and regardless of the repeated denials of these phantom third term agenda, it is has now come to public knowledge that the United States, the good old United States! is participating in the beer parlor and gambling halls type-rumors about Nigeria’s political future, particularly, the vexatious third term agenda tease! Instead of seeing this as an interference by the US, some Nigerians seem fixated on extraneous and ancillary matters?
Why would the United States, an assumed friendly country with Nigeria, engage in these public commentaries regarding local political rumor mills in Nigeria? Why would representatives of America announce sets of sanctions against Nigeria before determining if the rumored self-succession plot in Nigeria is true?
What other countries would the United States visit with such patronizing, paternalistic and condescending attitude? When was the last time that the US made high level public pronouncements regarding another country, a friendly country, and in reactions to a mere rumor?
Would the United States accept these sort of attitudes from another country? Would the US accept this from Nigeria for that matter? Why would the US participate in rumor mongering regarding Nigeria’s internal political matters? Is there a disinformation and destabilization process in place against Nigeria?
These frequent unfriendly and hostile swipes and snide filled public pronouncements, are these pronouncements against Nigeria well intentioned to produce a result in Nigeria, results that are inconsistent with Nigeria’s national interests, which in any events, benefits America?
Some Nigerians seem to desire a rose tinted invasion and occupation of Nigeria by the Americans, or Europeans or the euphemistic and ubiquitous International Community! Upon which America, Europe, the International Community, will install Gani Fawehinmi as president of Nigeria and Wole Soyinka as his vice president and voila! Like magic, good governance will be preordained for Nigeria by the Americans and all Nigerians will be in happiness land, happily ever after! Absolute delusion grandeur!
Some Nigerians are now cavalierly mentioning their desire for a military coup. They have argued their marginalization to po
litical irrelevance by PDP and by President Obasanjo. They have argued that these painful political irrelevance to which they have been relegated, requires a correction, and only a military intervention, through a coup, could rectify their loss! Some have argued that the PDP and President Obasanjo have touched the untouchables with the president’s aggressively robust reform policies. Some hinge their coup demand on the vigorous pursuits of their kinsmen by the EFCC for their criminalities, all these, despite the cogent, complete, clear and convincing evidence against these monumental pillagers and plunderers!
It might be useful for the Nigerians with these sort of mindsets and attitudes of waiting for military coup or foreign invaders and occupiers to seek personal interviews with Mr. Chalabi and his coalitions of Iraqi exiles!
While at it, such Nigerians could also take a quick look at Afghanistan, and Haiti, Dominican Republic, countries that were invaded and occupied.
And to glean through Nigeria’s history of military interregnums upon a supposedly brief intervention to set this right! Nigerians must also look at wayward military governance worldwide, and see the clear follies and foibles of military rule, countries whose invasions and occupations were camouflaged as anything but usurpation of political independence and sovereignty.
And to the Nigerians who have been beating the drums of war, anarchy, disintegration, etc, while advocating ethnic republics…They must realize the brutalities and the infinite horrors and catastrophes that they unwittingly seek. Nigerians must be alert to avoid walking into a trap and a self-fulfilling degenerative prophecy. Nigerians, avoid smokescreens or there will be no winners.
It remains true, as it bears repeating here again, that the best cure for imperfect democracy is, surely more democracy! Nigerians should not truncate our democracy!