Nigeria: The Blinken visit and a nation in crises
BY UBAKA OKOFU.
Antony Blinken, current Secretary of State under the Joe Biden’s US government might not be the first Secretary of State to have visited Nigeria. In the past, several Secretaries of State had visited Nigeria and indeed other African countries. Yet, the internal problems of the continent fester. What this means is that a million visits of US Secretaries of State cannot bring to an end all the monstrous problems ravaging the continent. The problems plaguing Nigeria or any other country of the African continent for that matter are from within, and only the people themselves can sort out these problems.
In fact, there is little an America or any other world power can do to solve the plethora of internal conflicts, internecine wars, corruption and uncivil rules that are presently ravaging the African continent. The bulk stops at the table of African leaders who must take up the gauntlet and say to themselves that enough is enough! In fact, the earlier we realize that foreigners are not going to do it for us the better progress we had made.,
Let’s not gloss over or trivialize Blinken’s visit to Nigeria as one of those visits by a highly respected top US government functionaries. Blinken’s visit is much more than one of those visits! Frankly speaking, Antony Blinken’s visit is remarkably political. It seems to me that the US under Biden had finally realised the mess his predecessor did to the foreign policies of the US government. Apparently, Biden through his agent, Blinken wanted to, and indeed had undone by deodorizing the Trump’s ruckus in Africa. Africans must first be appeased, and doing this, visiting Senegal, Kenya and perhaps Nigeria with great potentials is strategic.
Again, we also must understand that the US government had hardly formulated policy, albeit a foreign one without first putting the interest of America ahead of other countries. The Chinese are neither foes nor friends to America. Their economic activities in Africa must be checked if the US must remain relevant in the black continent. If anything, Africans should not be allowed to trust the Chinese. This long standing foreign policy of the US government will not change with the Joe Biden’s administration on which behalf Blinker had toured through three key and strategic African nations of Senegal, Kenya and Nigeria.
If one must be fair to the Americans, they always lay bare their cards. What remains a task is their double-faced international policy, which leaves other countries with no option, or options that are worse than the main. The news of the delisting of Nigeria as one of those countries where Christians are prosecuted was received with mixed feelings. Most Christian clerics in Nigeria had questioned the US decision in the light of continuous maiming and killing of Christians in the northern part of the country. It was reasoned that assisting the Nigerian military to flush out Boko Haram militants would have been helpful than anything else. The US cannot deny knowledge of ISWAP’s military collaboration with the dreaded Boko Haram sects in the north east of Nigeria and its continuous threat to global security.
The purpose of Blinker’s visit to Nigeria especially is far too ordinary than what we were told and made to believe. Infact, all issues discussed in all three countries Blinken visited resonated global threat and insecurity. So, where is America interest in all of those? Why is the US suddenly in a hurry to deal with these problems, choosing Senegal, Kenya and Nigeria as launch pads? Beside ending the unending Covid-19 pandemic, the reason the American government is partnering Senegal, Kenya and Nigeria is to eradicate global insecurity as a result of extreme religious practices. This is not new to us! Why the American government must exchange and compare reports is to enlarge and strengths inclusive global economies, find solution to extreme climate conditions and sustain democratic practices. Interestingly, these global issues are core policies of the United Nations and if l may add, the US should close ranks with the Un and other regional bodies to finding lasting solutions to these global problems.
The foreign relations between the US and the Nigerian government have been a mixed bag of good and bad times. Nigerians were once in the good books of the US government. This was shortly after her independence. It’s no longer an issue of debate that the foreign policy strategies of the US government, like several nations of the world are hinged on reciprocity. Nigeria became a bride to court on the strength of her potentials to be a world class power. The US could not take its eyes from the huge market of the former. The size and population strength of the country was too massive to be ignored. Importantly, the US wanted to guide against communist infiltration in Africa, and Nigeria was strategic. The US was also interested in Nigeria’s crude oil. Strategically, a hold unto Nigeria by the US was to have a say in the then Organisation of African Unity, (OAU). All these rolled into one was the reason Nigerians enjoyed a robust foreign relations with the US government in the 1960s.
The US /Nigeria foreign relations got messier during the Nigerian civil (1967-1970). The Gowon government had accused the US government of supporting Biafra cause because the latter had refused to sell arms to the Nigerian government. The relations between both countries worsened following the continuation of military rules in the country until Jim Carter was elected President and he saw the need to trust the genuine transition programme of Olusegun Obasanjo who was an accidental military Head of State following the gruesome assassination of Late Gen. Muritala Mohammed by Col. Dimka.
We cannot fully understand the recent visit of the US Secretary of State without going back to the Donald Trump administration. International pundits believe that the Trump administration was the American government with the most hostile foreign policies against Africans and Latinos. Infact, Trump once crossed the red line when he referred to Africa as ‘chit hole’. Has Biden sent Blinken to assuage the damage done to Africa by the Trump’s anti black and racist policies ? Is this a visit to restore confidence or one to chide our leaders publicly and celebrate them behind the curtain? Time shall tell!