OPINION: Buhari’s Visit To Obama’s White House Only Big In The NewsArticles/Opinion, Featured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Friday, July 17th, 2015
By Prof R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin Nigeria – The news of President Buhari going to visit President Obama of the United States of America come Monday July 21, 2015 has grown wild and wide in the news media and many government circles2015 here in Nigeria. But what are the objectives of the visit and the chances of achieving them? Needless to emphasise that Nigeria and America need excellent diplomatic relationship between each other, not just because of the complexions of their presidents, their heights, or whatever. Both Nigeria and America need each other but never again as master and servant, foreign aid donor and receiver, or one a puppet to the other. to No sir. The time has come for Nigeria to seek her own solutions to her own problems whether or not an American is there for her. Nigeria is never going to be Israel to America, a nation that dictates her wish list and America will dance to the list bowing. Yet hitherto America and Nigeria have never been enemies of each other, even during apartheid in Rhodesia, Mozambique or even South Africa, where Nigeria made herself a front line nation confronting the evils of apartheid.
The prevailing circumstances in Nigeria, including her quest to jump start her battered economy, rebuilding weak infrastructures, weak institutions, fight insurgency, build small and large scale industries, and improve general quality of life. Inherently Nigerians have high propensity to consume but always unwilling to produce enough for itself, good on the TV and public debates but low in implementation, knowing what is good but always looking for shortcut routes and miracles as solutions. America on the other hand actually needs Nigeria and the entire Africa as part of her empire but it is a nation too proud to actualize its desires the right way. Instead of mutual trading their forefathers went on slave trading after forcefully stealing from Africa all her natural resources. The best way any two nations should deal with each other is though openness, honesty and using correct scales in their mutual trading and exchanges. While America will always pursue self interest all other nations dealing with her, including Nigeria, must no longer look on America or depend on her for solutions. Yet Nigeria cannot afford to lose the support of a powerful, but very selfish, nation like America, Obama or no Obama.
We have been warning President Buhari since his inauguration that he should seek internal solutions to most of the problems confronting Nigeria. When Nigerians are ready to solve their problems they will solve them. But when they know the right things to do but choose the alternatives they must be allowed to live with the consequences of their choices. For example the Boko Haram insurgents have turned a whole circle from being a territorial Caliphate seeker to waging gorilla warfare in the cities and public places. President Buhari and his army need to recruit every member of the society in Nigeria to participate by turning in any suspect. We need to grow community policing and being my brother’s keeper approach. Religious sentiments is gradually getting out of way now that the Islamic sect can no longer be more Catholic than the Pope and because it has been identified that fighters in the group comprises all faiths and many nationalities. Boko Haram kills anyone on its way and captures everything it can get to enlarge its campaign. While President Buhari may explain the insurgents as part of the global insurgents formation to his hosts in America the homework Nigeria must do cannot be passed to the international community. Every country should henceforth refrain from paying only lukewarm attention to international terrorism, it is real and they must be fought. If Boko Haram eventually leaves Nigeria it may go to Chad, Niger, back to Libya, or others. ISIS, ISIL, Boko Haram, Alqaeda, and it’s various versions may be difficult to totally eliminate. Our military specialists should aim only to deprive them of territory, funds, and recruiting grounds by pushing them out through inflicting sufficient damages of all kinds on their formation.
America should know from hindsight that having markets here and there is mutually beneficial. While it may look as if Africa is on the begging side America’s hesitation has already opened the frontier better for the Chinese in Africa. In fact as we write Chinese products are the major ones Africans can afford. American goods are either price high or its technology not appropriate for average African on the streets. For example Chinese handsets are loud and you don’t have to press too many keys to say halo. America and the West need to come back to Africa again, not seeking slaves or pretending to give aids, but working with universities and institutions they created in the 1940s, 1950s, to improve them for their industrial networks. In particular America must be ready to understand the world before it roles out a policy it intends for global audience. Africans are too religiously inherent for America to wish to force same-sex issues through their throats at this time. If possible President Obama may avoid discussion relating to marriage or religions with President Buhari. It is not an African issue nor is it urgent. If course the practice is prevalent and Africa has been managing it for years but America should not increase the persecution of the people Africa considers errant and sexual perverse individuals. Those who made their judgment also have rights to doing so.
The regime of President Obama has made America almost self-sufficient in petroleum and pursuing several sources of energy to the extent that America wouldn’t buy a litre of the commodity from Nigeria in the last few months of President Jonathan of Nigeria. Americans may not want to give Obama this credit, but the entire world knows that American economy is becoming independent of their foreign oil import. Nigeria will continue to need markets for her oil and sources of all the essential commodities she would need in her attempt to develop the Nigeria market for world participants. Hence investments in Nigeria are save investments henceforth. President Obama should encourage Americans of all shades and particularly Americans of African decent to invest in Nigeria. Investors should avoid as much as possible middle men and women and working directly with local communities.
We know that Nigerian President may have a wish list that may include bringing back to Nigeria monies that have been stolen from Nigeria by public officials, military cooperation in training and weaponry, research opportunities to be opened between the two countries, industrial collaboration, and many others. These and similar ones are not to be looked at as Nigeria’s requests but possibly new collaborative frontiers. If Nigeria were to be supported to get it right it might become a showcase for others. America of Obama leadership should not see Nigeria as a begging nation. Nigeria should be viewed as an emerging market and a society poised to improve its global and internal ethical dealings. The slogan here is change, from good to very good, or even from wrong to right. The slogan is becoming an idea and a philosophy for the entire citizenry. The obstacles and huddles Nigeria are going to encounter will come mainly from within and from previous rulers and leaders who may lose a great deal of their empire if the society becomes sane. The fight against moving away from corruption may even be more dangerous for the president than confronting the dreaded Boko Haram. Nigeria will therefore need not just the understanding of the American hosts, but the cooperation and genuine collaboration that will improve both societies. The question both presidents may not be able to answer is whether the visit will lead to a better relationship between America and Nigeria or not.
Prof R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin Nigeria
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