Mr. Blair in Aso Rock, Nigeria
The former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was quoted recently on the concern of world community on the forthcoming Nigerian 2011 election. Mr. Tony Blair the former British prime minister and a clever politican is no stranger to African politics and Nigerian politics in particular. He said that the international community is expecting a lot from Nigeria’s general 2011elections.
Tony Blair was in Nigeria visiting President Goodluck Jonathan at Presidential Aso Villa:“Everyone, including the international community, is expressing a great deal of interest, a great deal of excitement for the elections and everyone is anxious for the elections to be conducted in the best possible way, “I think the preparations are going on and expectations are high around Nigeria, which is a great thing. Back in the West, things are pretty difficult politically, difficult economically. There is a hugely enhanced interest in Africa and in Nigeria. There is a lot of hope and excitement.”
Former U.S. President George Bush (L-R), Chairman of Nigeria's THISDAY Newspapers Nduka Obaigbena, Britain's former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pose for a photograph during the "Nigeria at 50 Awards", organised by Nigeria's THISDAY Newspapers, in the capital territory of Abuja February 21, 2010. Picture taken February 21, 2010. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde (NIGERIA - Tags: POLITICS MEDIA)
During his tenure in Britain he organized many out reach programs for African including the formation of task force on African debt problem. He promoted the idea of debt forgiveness and increase in foreign aid for Africa during his leadership and as a head of G8. But his initiates failed because the group of G8 responed lukewarm to the program of debt forgiveness and increased in foreign aid to Africa. Moreover, the opposing voice was that Africa needs more trade and trade concession, not more foreign aid. Many view foreign aid as corrupt - a threat to engine of development and economic progress.
Nigeria the economic power house of West Africa sub-region was invited to the G-8 and G-20 combined summit that took place in the Western hemisphere nation of Canada. Nigeria is not an official member of either G8 or G20 but an invitation to the summit was given to her along with other important emerging markets of Southern hemisphere. South Africa was also at the meeting as an official member of G20. Nigeria and South Africa are largest economies in Africa. While South Africa is a member of G-20, Nigeria is not. Nigeria‘s GDP is bulging and her economy is growing at the rate of 7.23 percent in the first quarter of 2010 compares to the expected global rate of about 3.9 percent.
This is not the first time Nigeria has been invited to G-8 meeting. She has been coming to these meetings for a while including those held during the era of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US President George Bush. As a guest and as an observer to the summit, Nigeria cannot not fully and thorough participate in depth or take the advantage of a membership holder. The exclusive privileges given to the members of the group eluded of the country, particularly on the fiscal matters.
Why is Nigeria invited to these summits? Well, one can give an intelligent and reasonable answer without much guessing. Yes! Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the natural leader of the continent. Nigeria is a sleeping giant of Africa that has been in dormancy for a long time. Nigeria is rich in both human and natural resources but paucity of strategic managers to manage her efficiently has delayed her rise as a developed economic power in the continent. She has been invited to the summits because she has something to offer to the global village. For Nigeria as an economic unit can contribute to stabilization of the world economy by her active and comprehensive participation in the world economic system.
Nigeria could not make it as an official member of G-20 nations because during the formation of the group the country was both political and economic unstable. For a long time Nigeria was under ruler ship of a dictatorial authority and her economy were in miserable hands without adequate productivity and planning. The country‘s economy was fundamentally and structurally imbalanced. The economy operated in the cloak of opaqueness without transparency and probity. But the story is changing and Nigeria is singing a new tune. Democratic capitalism is gradually but steadily taking root in the country.
Now with emergence of democracy and steadily economic progress, Nigeria is ready to become a fully and active member of G-20. The fledging democratic dispensation needs to be nurtured and supported; therefore the best way of encouraging Nigeria is to be accepted into this August body. Nigeria is changing and changing for the best with enduring political sensibility. The change was buttressed during the recent transfer of power which was smooth without hiccups. When the late President Umaru Yar’dua passed away, the vice-President Goodluck Jonathan was swiftly sworn-in without much ado.
His Excellency President Goodluck Jonathan represented Nigeria at the summit in Canada. Since he took the helms of power he has demonstrated his capacity to lead his fellow country men and women in accordance to democratic principle. President Jonathan has been working speedily to resolve the issue of Niger Delta and has been making the requisite arrangements and plans to solve the problem of electric power shortage. Nigerians on the street are beginning to say good things about the new leader. The world leaders are receiving the Nigerian leader with open hands and respect as he moved forward in restoring the dignity of our country. All these developments can help to make Nigeria become an official member of G-20.
Nigeria has continued to be a stabilizing force in Africa and beyond. Nigeria with its strategic role in African Union is moving Africa forward with its leadership. When Liberia and Sierra Leone were raging with civil wars and uprising, Nigerian military contingency was a peace keeping force that restored stability in the troubled land. All over the world, Nigerian peace keepers can be found in troubled places of the world, propelling and protecting peace. Nigeria needs to be part of the G-20 in order to fully represent African financial and economic interest. Resources-rich Africa with a population of almost one billion has not been fully represented in the G-8 or G-20 of the world. Nigeria together with South Africa can best represent the interest of Africa. Therefore let‘s make it official and admit Nigeria to G-20.
Emeka Chiakwelu is the Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol Organization. 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. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.