By Owei Lakemfa
HILARY Rodham Clinton the 67th American Secretary of State swung through seven AfricanÂ countries in 11 daysÂ endingÂ AugustÂ 14. She was like an old conservative headmistress scoring her pupils in examinations she had not conducted, and making remarks on their moral conduct and fitness.
Her first call was inÂ Kenya the ancestral home of her boss, President Barack Obama. Kenya had following its December 2007 elections witnessed an orgy of violence which claimed over 1,300 lives. She told the elites that improving democracy is the key to boosting trade and that investors will not be attracted to states with civil unrest or failed leadership. After taking a few dance stepsÂ at a dinner party in Nairobi, she flew to South Africa.
Regarded as the strongestÂ country economically and militarily in the continent, she treated its government led by Jacob Zuma with respect; discussing as partners on how to reform international institutions for the benefit of all countries.
She sought Zumaâ€™sÂ views on regional matters like Zimbabwe where the anti-imperialistÂ ZANU party holds sway,Â Sudan where a genocidal regime is in charge and Somalia, a failed state. After courtesies to the legendary Nelson Mandela, she was off to Angola.
Her remarks in Angola whichÂ were aroundÂ governaceÂ could not be expansive; this was a country the US and its allies including Holden Roberto, Jonas Savimbi and the defunctÂ Aparthied South African state had tortured with needless and seemingly endless civil wars until internationalist Cuban soldiers intervened and turned the tide in favour of the Angolan people.
Clintonâ€™s next stop wasÂ the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), one of the richest mineral-possessing countries in the continent which the Belgians, Americans , their mercenaries and stooges like Mobutu Seseseko, Joseph Kasavubu and Moise Tshombe turned into a failed state within three months of its June 30,1960 independence.
Here, she addressed one of the fallouts of that tragedy; the large scale rape of girls and women. On meeting the rape victims she cried that these crimes must be prosecuted and punished. Unfortunately, these crimes are deregulated and only the restoration of peoples power across the country can stop them.
Next stop was the self-declared â€œGiant of Africaâ€Â Nigeria. Ironically, the countryâ€™s officials, wounded by Obamaâ€™s choice of small Ghana as the country to visit, worked and hoped for a high profile visit; but after Clintonâ€™s visit, they started bellyaching.
She had noted the absurdity of theÂ sixth largest producer of crude oil in the worldÂ importing petroleum products for its domestic consumption. Asking theÂ â€œgiantâ€ to learnÂ the judicious utilization of resourcesÂ fromÂ little Botswana, she declared that â€œ investors will not be attracted to states withÂ failed or weak leadership, crime and civil unrest or corruption that taint every transaction and decisionâ€.
In the country proper, Clinton fired from all cylinders. â€œThe most immediate source of the disconnect between Nigeriaâ€™s wealth and its poverty is a failure of governance at the Federal, state and local levels. The lack of transparency and accountability has eroded the legitimacy of government and contributedÂ to the rise of groups that embrace violence and reject the authority of the stateâ€.
Nigeria with all its oil and gas, she said, lacks electricity; that despite its estimated two million barrels of oil a day, the poverty rate is 76 per cent and that according to the World Bank, corruption and related problems have cost the countryÂ $300 billion in the past three decades.
Then, perhaps buoyed by an excitedÂ audience, she went into over drive: The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), she claimed, which had been â€œ…doingÂ goodÂ work in the past has fallen back in the past one yearâ€.
Although she received applause, her claims were not backed by verifiable facts; she seems to have the gut feeling that that the current effeminate leadership of the organisationÂ is less effective than the cow-boyishÂ Â leadership of the EFCC under NuhuÂ Ribadu. After telling Nigerians mainly what they already know , and a few more knocksÂ on the ruling elites, she flew into friendlier arms in Liberia.
Liberia, a countryÂ ex-Americans helped to establish is currently presided over by the continentâ€™s only female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.Â An unapologeticÂ American stooge, she had gotten rid of her main opponent, Charles Taylor by conniving with then Nigerian president, OlusegunÂ Obasanjo and the George W. Bush administration in America to abduct him in his Nigerian exile and hand him overÂ to an â€œinternationalâ€ court for conviction.
Clinton praised Sirleaf to high heavens, including imbuing her with economic prowess (contrary to the reality in the country) and the implementation of a â€œpositive progressive agendaâ€.
In contrast to the Nigerian leadership, she told Sirleaf that the US has â€œ …confidence in your capacity (and)Â your competence to deliverâ€. Clinton said that Liberia which had witnessed a 14-year civil war is a guide to other countries transiting from conflict.
Then she flew to Cape Verde, the homeland of the legendary Pan Africanist, Amilcar Cabral. Here she met Prime Minister Jose Maria Pereira and held upÂ the country as an African success story.
AmericaÂ regards Africa as part of her sphere of influence, so the tour is no indication that the Obama administration has high regard for the continent. Most of Clintonâ€™s comments during the tour would have no effect particularly inÂ Nigeria whereÂ her remarks were like pouring water in a basket.
Three days after her comments in Nigeria where she urged respect for the ballot box, the senatorial re-run in Ekiti State was essentially aboutÂ thuggery,Â violence and awarding the election to the same ruling party candidate the courts found to have rigged the previous election.
ClintonÂ detectedÂ a faint hope in Kenya, showed respect in South Africa, had apprehension in Angola, sawÂ in DRC crimes against humanity to be apprehended, success stories in Liberia and Cape Verde and bewilderment in Nigeria . To her, she had spread a â€œtough loveâ€ message.