As the President of Nigeria visits Washington DC, May 5, the year of our Lord 2005, we expect some meaningful discussions although we do not know the ostensible reason for the invitation or visit, as citizens and defenders of the public interest, we dare here to bring out some pertinent issues of mutual concern. We undertake this assignment both as one sent to the nations and as a public commentator.
Anyone who has not taken complete leave of his senses looking at world events and the speed at which they unfold would agree that any opportunity to pray is welcome. Individual prayer is good. But on this visit, I expect the Brother Presidents to retire to a private room and pray to the Almighty God asking for wisdom. This is because – Except the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain (Psalm 127:1).
Permit me to illustrate how it was approvingly done in years of old with this relevant story:
And Ahab king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat king of Judah, Wilt thou go with me to Ramoth-gilead? And he answered him, I am as thou art, and my people as thy people; and we will be with thee in the war.
And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Enquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord today. Therefore the king of Irael gathered together the prophets four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for God will deliver it into the king’s hand.
But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides that we might inquire of him?
And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, there is yet one man, by whom we may inquire of the Lord: but I hate him for he never prophesied good unto me but always evil: the same is Micaiah the son of Imla. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.
2 Chronicles 18:3-7
When the heathen are in government, they worship openly their gods or goddesses whether they be called Bacchus, Eros or just plain devils taking the name of the Lord God in vain or spewing profanity mixed with tobacco on State Visits. Whether you believe or not, the earth is still the Lord’s and the fullness thereof and all the souls of men. So there!
Terrorism, Diamonds, Taylor and Mugabe
Nigeria as good neighbor and elder brother had brokered the peace in Liberia that led to the offer of asylum to Charles Taylor in Nigeria with the understanding that going forward, he would be of good behavior. It is alleged that he has broken the terms of the agreement by continuing to meddle in the politics of Liberia from exile. It is also alleged that there is concrete evidence that he had helped the infamous Al Quida launder money through diamonds in West Africa. A serious allegation indeed! Besides, Charles Taylor has a subsisting international warrant issued against him for war crimes against his own people as reported by the press. We expect OBJ to have a brief on Mugabe as well. He is expected to carry the middle ground to soothe flayed tempers and be the link towards continuing dialogue across the Atlantic.
We expect that President Obasanjo would likely be shown the evidence by President Bush and Condi Rice to persuade him to put aside his African hospitality and hand over his guest to the authorities for ties to terrorism. In persuasion, President Bush may convince President Obasanjo to work towards a better partnership to thwart the perceived intentions of the terrorist network to use West Africa as their next staging post. President Obasanjo being the law and order General of the West Coast, nay, the African Union President is likely to be persuaded. Then he would need consultants in the North American shores to wring out the fine prints.
Just as I had analyzed and predicated in a previous article herein (The Rule of Law), Mr. Faure Eyadema has been sponsored by the military junta whose interest he sought to protect to contest and purportedly win elections against the will of the people of Togo. There is now trouble in Togo and it escalates by the day. President Obasanjo may be asked to act as proxy to the International Community and to settle the brouhaha once and for all. This builds upon the Peace keeping reputation of Nigeria in the West African sub-region which according to OBJ has been “doing a lot to maintain peace and security. Nigeria is all over Africa and the world promoting peace having invested in peace and security in Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote D’Ivoire. We are also talking with our neighbours.” See http://odili.net/news/source/2005/may/1/300.html
This trip would also be an opportunity for OBJ to request for the support of the USA for his pet International project, Debt Forgiveness for Africa. In this regard, he would have support in the Nigerians in the Diaspora although we may disagree in the modalities. Condi Rice especially would be attentive to hear about his ideas of A Marshall Plan for Africa or variants of the same however phrased. We would expect that OBJ’s well paid aides would present a written workable plan that State Department can look at. To use the media as a bully pulpit may work well in Nigeria, but DC would need an ink and paper approach if OBJ wants to make mileage of his visit. Why should the USA pressure the world to offer debt forgiveness to a rich but highly mismanaged Economy; what has changed?
Bilateral Trade Issues
Ahead of the meeting, any analyst or consultant worth his salt would note the timed Press Conference in Abuja called by Mr. Larry Walker, Acting Economic Counselor of the US Embassy in Nigeria. His pre-emptive words are:
“AGOA has been a success, increasing our two-way trade with Africa and diversifying the range of products being traded, but our worry is that Nigerian businessmen have not been able to take full advantage of this opportunity yet.”
Every one knows that the trade balance tilts in favor of the US on all fronts and that Nigeria might be seeking some concessions. To pre-empt that argument, the embassy has made a release that says in effect, we have made a prior concession in AGOA that Nigeria is yet to take advantage of what else could you ask for? Read report of Press Release at: http://odili.net/news/source/2005/apr/29/535.html
Nigeria has also been in the news regarding the current reforms. All interested parties are wondering whether or not OBJ is serious and how far he is willing to go in the anti-corruption direction. Is he willing to make lasting changes in the system or is he just making cosmetic adjustments to soothe the frayed nerves and then go back to business as usual? If the reported query of GW regarding Gbenga’s millions in US banks vaults is true, then, OBJ may also have an opportunity to make his excuses or completely dodge the issue. Linked to the anti-corruption reform, would be the discussion of what manner of aid to expect from the US State Department for capacity building and structures for True Democracy in Nigeria. We are sure that OBJ would have the encouragement he needs to step on all the sacred cows that he has so painfully side-stepped.
Condition of Nigerian Immigrants
President Obasanjo and Nigeria has almost always cooperated fully with the US regarding international crime; whether it is regarding Narcotic drugs, Cyber-Crime, International prostitution or the well-known 419 scams. OBJ would need to make a case for Diaspora Nigerians resident in the USA. The case is that Nigerians need not be singled out by any country for special investigations because they are Nigerians. The majority of Nigerian Immigrants are highly educated and hard-working people willingly contributing to their host country in very meaningful ways. That many Nigerians as missionaries are starting churches in the US should not be seen as strange if the US is aware of the revival fires going on in Africa. Revival fires naturally spread. Nigerian trained Pastors should be encouraged to help especially the inner cities of America regain their heritage. Restricting well-traveled pastors entry into the USA under any guise cannot be God’s will for the USA. Like Vincent Fox made a respectable case for his countrymen in the Diaspora OBJ must not be quiet on the plight of Nigerians in America. This is because International remittances by Diaspora Nigerians represent the second highest Foreign Exchange earner for Nigeria.The new International cooperation against Terrorism would further cement the bilateral relationship between the two giants. Bien venu to OBJ.