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Clinton Came, So?

WE do not know what informed the high expectations the Nigerian authorities built around the visit of American Secretary of State Mrs. Hilary Clinton. It might well be that the visit soothed their jangled nerves after President Barack Obama visited Ghana.

The comparisons Nigerian leaders make with other countries do not relate to imitating progress these countries have made in laying solid foundations for their future.

We are behind in all the key indicators for the sustenance of society. The world is almost giving up on Nigeria.

It never occurs to Nigerian leaders that the Americans are only interested in stability in Nigeria in order to secure at least a reliable source of energy for its industries and homes.

Nigerian leaders expect Americans to fix our electoral system, fight our poverty, feed our people, pay striking university teachers and fix our roads. America would do none of these, it could, if they facilitate crude oil supply.

The Niger Delta would naturally be an area of interest to Americans, their economic wellness suffers from the least disruption in the Niger Delta. The interest does not run deeper than oil.

When Congress passed the African Growth Opportunities Act, AGOA,  nine years ago, smaller African countries that fixed their infrastructure benefitted from exporting to America. Nigeria does not have the basic infrastructure of the industrial age, electricity is an example. It cannot be a beneficiary of American trade policies.

Our leaders are unrelenting in their determination to lead us to nowhere. Their concerns centre on how the world, especially the industrialised world, sees them. The Clinton visit was a photo opportunity for our leaders who are clearing spaces in their magnificent homes, which the public maintains, to display their latest achievement, an enlarged portrait with Mrs. Clinton.

This type of leadership replicates itself at various levels and hugely accounts for Nigeria’s inability to make progress. The inferiority complex of our leaders befuddles their thinking, blurs their vision, distorts their sense of achievement, and results in minds that rate a dinner with an American diplomat -  that is what Mrs. Clinton is – an achievement.

All the noise about Mr. Obama not visiting Nigeria had nothing to do with any national project that could have benefited from the American’s presence. Our leaders felt their egos was bruised. They have spent the days after Obama visit to Ghana ruminating about their loss and cooking up stories of an impending Obama visit to Nigeria.

The obsession with foreign visits is a national ill we can ill-afford. It is a distraction, it obfuscates the reality of the country’s standing and has become an end in itself. A Clinton visit, our leaders believe brings Nigeria to par with other countries she visits. Our leaders are deluded about the status of Nigeria.

Frightening statistics about our relentless push to global irrelevance no longer evokes shocks – in fact, the authorities only react to these damning revelations with absolute indifference. Will Clinton’s visit cure our anomie?


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