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You are here:Home>>Strategic Research & Analysis>> Jonathan's Nigeria and US : John Kerry Diplomacy in Nigeria
Saturday, 31 January 2015 00:11

Jonathan's Nigeria and US : John Kerry Diplomacy in Nigeria

Written by Emeka Chiakwelu
John F. Kerry and President Jonathan in Lagos John F. Kerry and President Jonathan in Lagos

It does not take a geo-political expert to ascertain and even make conclusion that United States diplomacy in Nigeria is becoming unclear and somehow, incomprehensive.  United States Secretary of State John F. Kerry was recently in lagos , Nigeria to meet the two presidential candidates of the top political parties, People's Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC), respectively  .



Kerry held a brief meeting with Nigerian President Jonathan (PDP) at the old State house in Marina and later met Gen.  Muhammed Buhari (APC), the presidential candidate of the major opposition party at US Consulate in Lagos.



But what was the actual Kerry’s diplomatic priority in Nigeria? Is it the forthcoming election or the issue of Boko Haram? At the beginning it looks like he was suppose to be in Nigeria, to discuss about the engulfing problem of Boko Haram.  The wanton destruction of life and property by the evil Boko Haram has continued, if not lately making new headlines across the world.



When Kerry went to Paris with musician James Taylor to remind the French that they have a “friend in” America after senior US officials were absent in the peace rally. More than 40 leaders around the world gathered in France after the terrorism that took 15 French lives that suddenly undermines French sense and sensibility. And in Nigeria thousand of  the citizens were massacred in Maiduguri and Baga by Boko Haram and it was hardly noticed by the international media and global leaders.


The peace loving people around the world including The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Kaigama spoke up on the West and rest of the world neglecting Nigeria. 

“The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Jos has accused the West of not placing the same outrage on the ongoing massacre by Boko Haram in Nigeria as they have on the recent terrorist attacks in France. Last week, up to 2,000 people were believed to have been killed and several churches were burned in one of the deadliest attacks by the Boko Haram militants,” as repoterd by Christian daily.



"It is a monumental tragedy. It has saddened all of Nigeria. But we seem to be helpless. Because if we could stop Boko Haram, we would have done it right away. But they continue to attack, and kill and capture territories with such impunity," Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama told BBC News.


I did believe the world was embarrassed and guilt ridden by less attention paid to the ongoing disaster in the north east Nigeria. Many attributed the neglect to “Afro-pessimism” and geo-politic rationalism.   John Kerry coming to Nigeria appears to be sudden and not fully planned. Coming to Nigeria few weeks before the presidential election was a response to the state of affairs and to project that Nigeria matters.

Oil importation from Nigeria to America has stopped momentarily.  United States have an abundance of sweet crude oil in the rock deposit that can be recovered by fracking process. For some time now, United States have not buy a single drop of Nigerian oil. Therefore does Nigeria really matter anymore?  I hope that such is not the case, that the prevailing policy of conflict resolution and peace making by United States continues to be consistent and unbending irrespective of the given situation. Therefore the naysayers that speculate otherwise are probably wrong.



Africans and Nigerians cannot blame the outsiders for their problems; there must be a sense of brotherhood which can be functional by working together to solve the problems confronting Nigeria and Africa. Lately, United States and Nigerian diplomatic relationship can be described as lukewarm due misunderstanding and unclear policy on Boko Haram and the declined to sell weaponry warfare by Obama’s administration..


Writing for New York Times, Helen Cooper wrote that, “Last summer, the United States blocked the sale of American-made Cobra attack helicopters to Nigeria from Israel, amid concerns about Nigeria’s protection of civilians when conducting military operations. That further angered the Nigerian government, and Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States responded sharply, accusing Washington of hampering the effort.”


And Cooper further highlighted the observation of American senior diplomat in Nigeria. “The kind of question that we have to ask is, let’s say we give certain kinds of equipment to the Nigerian military that is then used in a way that affects the human situation,” James F. Entwistle, the American ambassador to Nigeria, told reporters in October, explaining the decision to block the helicopter sale. “If I approve that, I’m responsible for that. We take that responsibility very seriously.”


The pressing problem in Nigeria is Boko Haram.  Kerry coming to Nigeria was a good thing but he did not need to be on the ground to convey to the presidential candidates to abstain from utterances that may trigger violence after the election.  Therefore his coming to Nigeria should have wholly concentrated on what to do about Boko Haram and how to aid Jonathan Administration to defeat the menacing Boko Haram.

 

“Special initiative”

But “how specifically the United States plans to help Nigeria regain the initiative against the group remains unclear. The abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram in April provoked outrage in the United States and Europe. But a breakdown in trust between the United States and the Nigerian military has hampered cooperation against Boko Haram, as have fears that the provision of heavy weapons to Nigerian forces could lead to human rights abuses” as written by New York Times’  Michael Gordon.


It was reported that Kerry spoke about “special initiative” as a strategy to overwhelm Boko Haram when he held a meeting with British Foreign minister, Philip Hammond. But while Kerry was in Lagos he did not emphasis on the “special initiative” but he concentrated on the forth coming election.  When will the “special initiative” come to fruition, for if not now, when?


Emeka  Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning including tagteam Harvard Education. Africa Political & Economic Strategic Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.       This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it www.afripol.org

Last modified on Wednesday, 11 March 2015 14:08

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