Witney W. Schneidman, an adviser on African affairs to President Barack Obama during the Presidential campaign spelled out Obama’s cardinal policy objectives for Africa:
"Barack Obama will pursue three fundamental objectives on the continent. One is to accelerate Africa’s integration into the global economy. A second is to enhance the peace and security of African states.
And a third is to strengthen relationships with those governments, institutions and civil society organizations committed to deepening democracy, accountability and reducing poverty in Africa."
Nigeria is the epicenter of African geo-politics, therefore a stable, healthy and prosperous Nigeria is good for Africa and the world. Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa: Politically, culturally, economically and otherwise, resourceful South Africa notwithstanding, Nigeria overwhelms the continent. Nigeria is unique in Africa in the sense, that it has the requisite human and natural capitals to be making waves in economic development and scientific advancement in Africa. But intellectual lethargy especially the paucity of confidence embedded with self-doubt have dimmed its emerging light.
Nigeria’s nascent democracy is gradually losing its luster and vibrancy due to the tilting to plutocracy and institutional disfiguration, impelled by uncompromising politicians. For Nigeria to continue to be a front line nation in Africa, it must put her house in order. A strength tempered with humility with a responsibility to her continent must be Nigeria’s targeted self actualization. President Obama must shun all the diplomatic shenanigans and niceties and be forthright with Africa’s leadership and compel them to amend their ways and maximize their continent’s God giving potentials.
Peace and conflict resolutions
Nigeria must have quantifiable peace to enjoy steady economic progress. The most pressing is the issue of Niger Delta. Although Nigeria territorial integrity must be respected, Obama administration can work with Nigerian government providing logistic and confident building measures in negotiations with neglected communities in Niger delta. Also, The Obama administration must work with African Union in finding solutions to the cessation of conflicts and wars in the continent. Wars (especially internal strife) are ubiquitous in the continent. Some African governments and warmongers commit their resources to executing endless wars. The West must frown upon the sell of arms to these parties by checkmating their natives arms industries.
Africom as a security tool
Africa is confronted with lack of internal security which becomes a deterrent force in economic advancement. Capital flight and low foreign investment are precipitate and ramification of insecurity. With President Obama enormous social and political capital, he can do a better public relationship job of explaining and restreaming Africom.: Justify, Redirect or End it.
American government have set-up Africom – a military command for Africa, which is to secure peace and goodwill in Africa. Many African countries are skeptical of America’s real intention, fearing that Africom can become a tool to punish America’s foes in the region in the name of fighting terrorism. The unexpressed fear is that it could be used to control and manipulate internal policies and status quo of African nations. America have to work succinctly to assiduously allay their fears and show to them the benefits of Africom. This must be done with goodwill and civility while respecting African territorial integrity . Peace and tranquility are good for business for all the parties concerned which can be achieved through dialogue and understanding. To this end, American diplomats in Africa have to embark on thorough enlightenment campaign.
Respect for Human Rights
The building blocks of democracy are liberty, freedom and justice. Nigeria cannot be democratic nation without liberty. Nigerians must live in the system of government that encourages freedom and justice. The respect for fundamental human rights must be instituted and adhered to; an environment that provides self-help, self-improvement and self-innovation must be encouraged. Only freedom can make these things possible and make free enterprise a reality, so that free people can create wealth and advance human dignity.
The Obama administration must encourage and support governance that accommodates checks and balances in Nigeria and indeed Africa. This will in turn provide accountability and respect for the populace. What Africa needs mostly include, elimination of dictators and socialist regimes, establishment of virile/free political platform and economy, rule of law and respect for individual rights. All these things do border on fundamental issues which foreign aid alone cannot redress. Until these issues are properly put right, the story of the optimum utilization of these billions of dollars from foreign aid will always remain a mirage.
Anti-corruption campaign and legislation
President Obama as the leader of the free world must support corruption elimination in Nigeria and Africa by helping local and international entities serious on the war against CORRUPTION in Africa. The responsibility of fighting corruption is too complex and gigantic to be left for one party. Both Africa and West must partake in the fight against corruption. The West must enact banking laws that will fish out bankers that accept laundered money and tainted wealth from corrupt African leaders and bureaucrats. Ill-gotten wealth must be returned to Africa without much ado, while the culprits must be exposed and prosecuted.
The West must work together with African governments on the war against corruption and bribery. Corporations and Transnational companies operating in Africa must not induce politicians and bureaucrats by bribes in their quest for contracts.
"African Union estimates that the continent loses as much as $148 billion a year to corruption. This money is rarely invested in Africa but finds its way into the international banking system and often into western banks. The proceeds of corrupt practices in Africa, (which the African experts group recommended in 2002 should be classified as a ‘crime against humanity’ because of its impact on ordinary people), are often laundered and made respectable by some of the most well known banks in the City of London or the discreet personal bankers of Geneva and Zurich."
Fair Trade for all Parties
The Obama administration must encourage fair and equitable trade with Nigeria and Africa. The giving of aid must not be the only means to defeat poverty and alleviate quality of life in Africa. Nigeria must be encouraged to rely less on oil but to diversify her economy.
The promotion of trade can be possible when concessions are made to emerging industries in Nigeria and Africa. The West can improve technological developments by investing in areas of science and technology that can sharpen the technical-know-how in the continent.
Obama’s America and the West must stand for fair trade at the World trade organization by conscientiously removing agricultural subsidies given to their own agricultural sectors that adversely affect the traffic of commodities from Africa. Obama administration must not spoon feed Africans with depreciating aid and charitable donations but also compel them to comprehend that only trade and comprehensive reforms can be the panacea to poverty in Africa. Strategically, a wealthy and stable Nigeria can be a stabilizing force in Africa, and a wealthy Africa will apply her resources in resolving conflicts throughout the continent.
Emeka Chiakwelu is the Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol Organization. www.Afripol.Org Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center (Afripol) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa, and to advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.