Wednesday, August 12, 2009

As U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, lands in Abuja, Nigeria, the world watches keenly to see how her visit with Nigeria's leadership will be. After Obama's recent trip to neighboring Ghana and, the glaring omissions of that trip, it will be interesting to hear exactly how Ms. Clinton will go about taking "a tough line" on the needs for electoral reform, violence, an end to the corruption in government and the problems in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Nigeria remains the top African exporter of oil to the US, it is the United State's largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, and the U.S. is home to a growing number of Nigerians in the diaspora. These realities are not lost on America's leadership and according to Assistant US Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson,"Nigeria is undoubtedly the most important country in sub-Saharan Africa". Questions remain as to what issues the Nigerian government will in turn raise with their powerful ally.

During her visit, Ms. Clinton will meet with the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ojo Maduekwe and later, with President Umar Yar'Adua. Yar'Adua's party, the PDP, recently accused the Obama administration of seeking to destabilize his government, but surely no discussion of that matter will be raised with Ms. Clinton. Nigerian officials will likely raise concerns that the American push for a less oil-dependent economy will be detrimental to Nigeria. As Angola, the new 'African King of Crude', is now the largest supplier of oil to China, Nigeria can position itself as a better source of sweet crude to America which is competing for oil with China, Russia, India and other countries which are currently making in roads in Nigeria. But, such positioning is highly dependent on the outcome of the current government's amnesty push with Niger Delta militants and Yar'Adua's ability to stem the interests of those who gain from the confusion in the oil sector. According to a recent Chatham House report, the Yar'Adua administration took steps to quell the lack of transparency and clear corruption that existed in certain laws regulating parts of the oil sector as they were used by former President Obasanjo to the benefit of himself and his cronies. Furthermore, a Petroleum Industry Bill that would transform the NNPC (Nigeria's bureaucratic oil industry regulator) is currently under consideration in the National Assembly. These changes could help improve Nigeria's oil sector which is in dire need of rejuvenation and would open the door to more oil production and therefore, non-Middle Eastern oil for its American ally.

Yet, none of these facts can overcome the reality that President Yar'Adua is considered, in Nigeria and by foreigners, to be a weak President that came to power in fraudulent elections. This diminishes his position with his American visitor, but Nigeria's resources, its potential and the sheer will of of its citizenry ensure that Nigeria's bargaining power at any table will still be considerable. The question becomes whether Yar'Adua is capable of using the advantages Nigeria presents as leverage with Hillary Clinton and the United States, and, most importantly, whether he will be able to bring about verifiable progress to Nigeria in these uncertain times. To do the latter, he will need all the help he can get, as corruption remains a key ingredient to the nation's woes. And this administration, despite the good choice of non-interference with judicial reviews of fraudulent election results, is not perceived as being anti-corruption. But, nobody can help Yar'Adua and Nigeria overcome its issues, only Nigerians can.

Being that she is not visiting non-officials, Ms. Clinton will miss the opportunity to give some support to indigenous movements and organizations working to improve Nigeria without the support of the federal government, a key means to improving the country and giving America a more powerful African partner. Though her upcoming town hall meeting with Nigerians is bound to be enlightening. As such, what is most likely to be a result of Hillary Clinton's trip to Nigeria is that certain officials will take pictures with the Secretary of State, promises of 'assistance' will be made, assurances that 'change is on its way' will be given and Nigerians, those who bear the grunt of the reality of life with epileptic electricity (#lightupnigeria), insufficient infrastructure and health care, will be left to continue to do as they have always done - hold Nigeria together someway, somehow.

From The Archives:
- The Glaring Omission
- Nigeria's PDP Accuses Obama

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13 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Don Thieme said...

I have just posted. We clearly think alike, although I find you have thought much more deeply about this. I do not think that the omission of Nigeria in Barack Obama's visit was accidental. However, I also doubt that the current itinerary of Ms. Clinton maifests a desire to "destabilize" the PDP. The United States should develop long-term relationships with all of the players in Nigerian national politics. That could be a sign of our respect for the complexity of Nigeria as opposed to colonialist designs.

Anonymous said...

where did u get ur template from?

io said...

photo up session...

Beauty said...

It's all gone pear shaped. Frosty reception, Mrs Clinton didn't have the bottle to tell it as it is and topping all that, “Nigerians by nature are not a very violent people” by Foreign Minister, Ojo Maduekwe. And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, Mrs. Clinton said that the Nigerian defense minister asked her for specific American military help to quash the remaining rebels in the oil-producing areas and the American government would look closely at the request. Anyone else for a bucket of gin?

Onyeka said...

During her visit, Ms. Clinton will meet with the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ojo Maduekwe

Yup, we're SCREWED. That man's a moron.

NneomaMD said...

LOLOLOL @Onyeka....
at the risk of being shouted down, I would have preferred that Clinton skipped over Nigeria, similar to that of Obama, in order to demonstrate her solidarity with a people fed up with their corrupt government. It would have made a more powerful statement that a mere finger-waving at whomever she was talking to about corruption. The Clinton visit and private talks with nationals leaders further legitimizes Yar'adua's ascendancy unto the Nigerian throne. In the same way she requested that South Africa should encourage Mugabe to stop acting like a jerk, she should have stopped by one of our neighbors to express her disdain for the authoritarian government Nigeria now finds itself under....but I guess she has some oil in her eyes - for it has a way of blinding Western leaders to reality

Dade said...

I think the early reaction to her visit has been good from the govt's point of view (b4 nko?)

But what will come out of it beyond the 'tough words' she left behind?

It remains to be seen. But at least, the PDP elite now know that there will be more criticisms from where those tough words also came.
And as if in recogtion of this new reality, Ojo the Belligerent softened his tone on home-grown critics (or as he called them - IHTLTFFP - "Intellectual Hitmen Too Lazy To Fight For Power")

Jason said...

This is a great site that you have here. I have a debate site myself and I would like to exchange links with you. We need to stick together. Let me know. Jason

Anonymous said...

All -

Check out www.lavide.com (Nigerian Podcast)

Beauty said...

If the statements attributed to PDP were true, then, I was too quick to point out the failures of Mrs Clinton's visit. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Senate President David Mark have strongly condemned statements made by United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, during her two-day visit to the country. If that is the flavor of what is yet to come then, we are in more trouble than we thought, for, great are the people who can accept criticism.

"Mrs. Clinton seems to have taken her briefs from individuals or groups and other failed politicians who have an axe to grind with the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria" is arrogant and shallow. That nonsense confirms what we have known all along. Nigeria is on the brink of destruction! Perhaps, this is the precipice for us all. Is this is our moment to come together in order to rid ourselves of our rotten core?

N.I.M.M.O said...

Sec. Clinton represents the sentiments of her government to issues in Nigeria so whatever she has said would be what Pres. Obama would have said had he come to Nigeria.

Was it a question of what she said? How she said it? Where she said it? Who she said it to? or because it was she who said it?

If Obama had said the same words to them in the Senate, they would have clapped for him o.

Do these people know jack?

TheJunkie said...

LOL @ onyeka!

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