Africa: How Nigeria is losing on Global relevance–courtesy ATQ

Africa: How Nigeria is losing on Global relevance

March 3, 2017Sunday OnenLeave a comment

Princeton N. Lyman, the former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and South Africa

How Nigeria is losing Global relevance

Princeton N. Lyman, the former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and South Africa, delivered a very poignant speech on the panel titled “The Nigerian State and U.S. Strategic Interests” at the Achebe Colloquium at Brown University.

Lyman suggests that rather than continually emphasize Nigeria’s strategic importance, it would behoove us to consider elements that might eventually lead to Nigeria’s irrelevance on the international stage.

Transcript Of Speech Taken Directly From a Video

Thank you very much Prof. Keller and thanks to the organizers of this conference. It is such a privilege to be here in a conference in honor of Prof. Achebe, an inspiration and teacher to all of us.

I have a long connection to Nigeria. Not only was I Ambassador there, I have travelled to and from Nigeria for a number of years and have a deep and abiding vital emotional attachment to the Nigerian people, their magnificence, their courage, artistic brilliance, their irony, sense of
humor in the face of challenges etc.

And I hope that we keep that in mind when I say some things that I think are counter to what we normally say about Nigeria. And I say that with all due respect to Eric Silla who is doing a magnificent work at State Department and to our good friend from the legislature, because I have a feeling that we both Nigerians and Americans may be doing Nigeria and Nigerians no favor by stressing Nigeria’s strategic importance.

I know all the arguments: it is a major oil producer, it is the most populous country in Africa, it has made major contributions to Africa in peacekeeping, and of course negatively if Nigeria were to fall apart the ripple effects would be tremendous, etc.. But I wonder if all this emphasis on Nigeria’s importance creates a tendency of inflate Nigeria’s opinion of its own invulnerability.

Among much of the elite today, I have the feeling that there is a belief that Nigeria is too big to fail, too important to be ignored, and that Nigerians can go on ignoring some of the most fundamental challenges they have many of which we have talked about: disgraceful lack of infrastructure, the growing problems of unemployment, the failure to deal with the underlying problems in the Niger-Delta, the failure to consolidate democracy and somehow feel will remain important to everybody because of all those reasons that are strategically important.
And I am not sure that that is helpful.

Let me sort of deconstruct those elements of Nigeria’s importance, and ask whether they are as relevant as they have been.

We often hear that one in five Africans is a Nigerian. What does it mean? Do we ever say one in five Asians is a Chinese? Chinese power comes not just for the fact that it has a lot of people but it has harnessed the entrepreneurial talent and economic capacity and all the other talents of China to make her a major economic force and political force.

What does it mean that one in five Africans is Nigeria? It does not mean anything to a Namibian or a South African. It is a kind of conceit. What makes it important is what is happening to the people of Nigerian. Are their talents being tapped? Are they becoming an economic force? Is all that potential being used?

And the answer is “Not really.”

And oil, yes, Nigeria is a major oil producer, but Brazil is now launching a 10-year program that is going to make it one of the major oil producers in the world. And every other country in Africa is now beginning to produce oil.

And Angola is rivalling Nigeria in oil production, and the United States has just discovered a huge gas reserve which is going to replace some of our dependence on imported energy.
So if you look ahead ten years, is Nigeria really going to be that relevant as a major oil producer, or just another of another of the many oil producers while the world moves on to alternative sources of energy and other sources of supply.

And what about its influence, its contributions to the continent? As our representative from the parliament talked about, there is a great history of those contributions. But that is history.
Is Nigeria really playing a major role today in the crisis in Niger on its border, or in Guinea, or in Darfur, or after many many promises making any contributions to Somalia?

The answer is no, Nigeria is today NOT making a major impact, on its region, or on the African Union or on the big problems of Africa that it was making before.

What about its economic influence?

Well, as we have talked about earlier, there is a de-industrialization going on in Nigeria a lack of infrastructure, a lack of power means that with imported goods under globalization, Nigerian factories are closing, more and more people are becoming unemployed. and Nigeria is becoming a kind of society that imports and exports and lives off the oil, which does not make it a significant economic entity.

Now, of course, on the negative side, the collapse of Nigeria would be enormous, but is that a point to make Nigeria strategically important?

Years ago, I worked for an Assistant Secretary of State who had the longest tenure in that job in the 1980s and I remember in one meeting a minister from a country not very friendly to the United States came in and was berating the Assistant Secretary on all the evils of the United States and all its dire plots and in things in Africa and was going on and on and finally the Assistant Secretary cut him off and said: “You know, the biggest danger for your relationship with the United States is not our opposition but that we will find you irrelevant.”

The point is that Nigeria can become much less relevant to the United States. We have already seen evidence of it. When President Obama went to Ghana and not to Nigeria, he was sending a message, that Ghana symbolized more of the significant trends, issues and importance that one wants to put on Africa than Nigeria.

And when I was asked by journalists why President Obama did not go to Nigeria, I said “what would he gain from going? Would Nigeria be a good model for democracy, would it be a model for good governance, would he obtain new commitments on Darfur or Somalia or strengthen the African Union or in Niger or elsewhere?”

No he would not, so he did not go.

And when Secretary Clinton did go, indeed but she also went to Angola and who would have thought years ago that Angola would be the most stable country in the Gulf of Guinea and establish a binational commission in Angola.

So the handwriting may already be on the wall, and that is a sad commentary.
Because what it means is that Nigeria’s most important strategic importance in the end could be that it has failed.

And that is a sad, sad conclusion. It does not have to happen, but I think that we ought to stop talking about what a great country it is, and how terribly important it is to us and talk about what it would take for Nigeria to be that important and great.

And that takes an enormous amount of commitment. And you don’t need saints,
you don’t need leaders like Nelson Mandela in every state, because you are not going to get them.

I served in South Korea in the middle of the 1960s and it was time when South Korea was poor and considered hopeless, but it was becoming to turn around, later to become to every person’s amazement then the eleventh largest economy in the world. And I remember the economist in my mission saying, you know it did not bother him that the leading elites in the government of South Korea were taking 15 – 20 percent off the top of every project, as long as every project was a good one, and that was the difference.

The leadership at the time was determined to solve the fundamental economic issues of South Korea economy and turn its economy around.

It has not happened in Nigeria today.

You don’t need saints. It needs leaders who say “You know we could be becoming irrelevant, and we got to do something about it.”

Source: weeklypostng.org

Our Nigeria–Which way to go?

Nigeria-2016-Budget-Projected-Revenue (1)

 

The USD$ 30+ or 20Billion, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi – Okonjo Weala/Dieziani GEJ et. al is no more news.  So is the Oil and Gas gate, that got some highly placed Nigerians confessing to Bribery and corrupting a National Assembly Legislator, no court judgement no white paper and all the concerns are moving about free agents in a very corrupt, immoral setting? no in an easy to forget society.

 

images (4)

Now the US$2.1Billion Arms gate is raising more heat and courts / health pressures, why?  Wind of Change? Maybe; Nigerians surprise me always.

My expectations is that our statisticians/Press/Academicians will come out and tell us in clear terms, what we lost, what we are looking for and what we as a Nation stand to gain, if we succeed, 50, 80 or 100%.  SLS now Emir of Kano was quoted in a paper to saying, GEJ was loosing as much as US$1Billion monthly to corruption, was that true? Is it still happening? Nigerians need to know and the see how to fix the holes or change the baskets to containers that do not leak.

Do you know that:-

USD$2.1 Billion will amount to NGN546Billion at N260=US$1.  That will be 30.333Million people’s salary on the N18,000.00 minimum wage. (Some Governors have already come out to tell the world that they cannot pay the amount).

* The total budget for all the Northern States Education is N300Billion, that means it can pay to educate the whole Northern States for one year with a change of N246Billion.

* The Nigerian Health Sector has N221.7Billion only for this year, that means it could take care of health sector and have N324.3Billion as change.

* If what SLS and Dieziani / NASS settled for was USD$20.0Billion as unaccounted for, that will be

* N5.2Trillion at the N260=USD$1

* it can give 288.9Million people’s minimum salary (that is more than the Nigeria’s population of 160Million)

* It is more than the total budget of some Countries in Africa and some developing countries.

What should amaze any sensible, responsible person, is the way and manner Nigerians carry on their business of the day, as if, it’s one of those things you know?  No it is not, it is the only wahala (suffering) that right standing people suffer for keeping silent and refusing to ask for their rightful dues.

This is no PDP / APC saga, it is Nigeria.  This is time to stand as one and demand answers, of the whys and how’s of not just the ones we know, but of all the others being kept from the eyes of the public.

Our Citadels and Ivory Towers need to start R&D on Nigeria’s root cause, Reductions or Removal of Temptations and Best Practices.  Ways of celebrating Honesty and reward for right living or whatever can get us sane again should be looked at.  The future of our nation is not good, if the media, external influence and social fora/media is all we have to raise our youth and growing children.  The celebration of ills and carefree attitude to hither to obnoxious issues need a revisit. 

To reduce Corruption, it start from our minds, we need to get our children, youth and growing populace to start renewing our thoughts and minds with the right things.  We need to have an enabling environment that will encourage such, through the materials we read, watch and listen too.  Our Home must be worked to morality stables in all the sense of it and our schools should be returned to the basics, that produced leaders in little and big ways.  Our places of work should be in the fore front of best practices, top down, from resumption time to salary/promotion and file movements.  Employments should return to merits and Federal Character & not sex, creed or tribe.  The time when declaration of age is not monitored and you have a man / woman become 30 years three or four times in his/her civil service career life should stop.  NYSC need to also look at either changing their rules or sought ways to stop the engagement of persons near 50 years as under 30s for youth corps.  If an unemployed female / male member of your church or mosque brings plenty monies as tithes/offering, counsel should be given such and not celebrate same and encourage others to follow example.

What I am trying to say is, we the people of Nigeria should take our future in our hands and start from us (me & you), then get our elected leaders now that they are in office to behave as promised.  That will reduce the need for EFCC tomorrow and it is better that we solve the problem before it happens.  And support the Agencies of Government to correct the already wrong happenings, but in a moral responsible way and not as vendetta.

This is not just Nigeria, Africans should take their future in their hands and call their Governments to action.  They need to account for Yesterday, tell us the Truth about today and consider the good of all for our tomorrow’s actions.  I pray Africa, soon, very soon, look into Africa first, before thing Paris, Brussels, China, India, UK, Dubai, Saudi, Israel, Germany or America.  Happy New Year, ‘which way Nigeria (Africa), Which way to go’.. (Remembering Sonny Okosun).