Clinton, Leahy and Nigeria’s destiny
ONE of the things that the United States’ former Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton is yet to explain satisfactorily to Americans and indeed the whole world is why the State Department under her watch classified Boko Haram as anything but a terrorist group.
As she re-presents herself for nomination as a presidential candidate under the Democratic Party, Mrs. Clinton ought to be haunted by that blunder. Together with Senator Patrick Leahy, Mrs. Clinton is to be held partly responsible for the tragic menace that Boko Haram has become today.
But for her misguided classification of the murderous group as some sort of freedom fighters, and Leahy’s most ill-informed characterisation of the Nigerian army as “rapists and murderers”, the war against Boko Haram might have since been over.
Let me say, with due respect to my friend and spokesman for the president, Mr. Femi Adesina, that I don’t share his optimism that the “US will do the right thing with Nigeria” as regards the war against Boko Haram.
Adesina was quoted as saying that he saw “no reason for the US to withhold support at this critical time” in Nigeria’s effort to crush the Boko Haram.
I believe that beyond the call of duty, Adesina doesn’t really believe what he expects us to believe. Now, beyond the glib promises that President Obama made to his Nigerian guest in Washington, I wonder what else informed my friend’s optimism.
If the U.S. duplicity on Boko Haram changes today, it would mean that the U.S. was all the while overtly meddling in Nigeria’s internal politics by its hardline, non-co-operative attitude during the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
It would then also be clear that part of the real reasons why the U.S. would not assist the immediate past administration in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists was because it had the pluck to enact the anti-same sex marriage, despite pressures on it not to do so.
Those who don’t submit to America’s sometimes warped sense of morality should not expect much help from the country! I am indeed inclined to agree with former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode that the US and her Western allies are not really interested in the peace and stability of Nigeria. Why they are not, should of course not be difficult to fathom.
Nigeria is the only country geo-strategically positioned by nature to lead Africa and indeed the black world out of neo-colonialism and Western imperialism, God helping it. She may not have played that role satisfactorily but it cannot be denied that she has made a mark, starting from the independence of a number of Southern African countries as well as the ushering in of black majority rule in South Africa.
In particular Nigeria’s remarkable role in dismantling the apartheid regime in South Africa is one that didn’t quite sit well with some Western nations despite appearances to the contrary. Anyone who has lived in the U.S. or merely had a study tour of that country should know that there is something about Nigerians that makes an average American uncomfortable.
Of course they try to mask this discomfort and prejudice about Nigeria by sweepingly smearing Nigerians as corrupt, arrogant and aggressive, perhaps more than other Africans.
While that may not be altogether unfounded, it could equally be argued that Americans are no less arrogant, aggressive and perhaps even more corrupt than Nigerians, especially when that country was the age of Nigeria.
I have tried to contextualise the attitude of the U.S. and many of her Western allies towards Nigeria to show that all their pretexts for not co-operating with our country in her war against Boko Haram are just what they are – pretexts, a mere subterfuge for their real motive which is to undermine Nigeria’s evolvement as Africa’s strongest nation.
The weaker Nigeria is the better for them. And this of course feeds their atavistic denigration of the black race as a good-for-nothing people.
I wonder what makes anyone optimistic that this would change simply because a Buhari is at the helm. I do not think that Nigeria should rely much on the West in her search for solution to her many domestic challenges including the insurgency in the northeastern part of the country.
I then wonder why the Buhari administration was denying that the president’s speech at the American Institute for Peace suggested that by uninformedly applying the Leahy Act, the U.S. has aided the Boko Haram terrorists. Isn’t that true anyway? Being politically correct with the U.S. is not what we need to defeat the Boko Haram. Rather Nigeria needs to look inwards and if need be, probably Eastward, towards China and Russia in her quest for needed weapons in the war against Boko Haram.
This habit of toadying up to the West isn’t really going to help much. Now that the president has returned from his US trip, could he now sit down with his aides to think seriously of how we can overcome Boko Haram, relying on domestic initiatives. As I said elsewhere, no foreign country can love Nigeria more than Nigerians themselves. In the end, it is our responsibility to pull our country out of the miry clay into which it has sunk for years now.
Pinning our hope on any country, much less the U.S. and Britain, would amount to a colossal waste of effort. I am persuaded that all Nigeria needs is a political leadership that is honest and sincere, and ready to mobilise the creative ingenuity of Nigerians in tackling the nation’s many challenges.
The solution to our problems will begin to emerge the day we recognise that all we need to become a globally respected nation is within us.
The Clintons and Leahys of this world will not disappear but we can call their bluff by proving that we can do without them. The ball is in President Buhari’s court. Is he ready to kick it? Clearly our destiny is in our hands. • Rev. Canon Okey Ifionu, an Anglican priest and former newspaper editor, writes from Lagos.