By Clifford Ndujihe
Former United States of America envoy to Nigeria, Ambassador Walter Carrington yesterday said his country was backing President Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s administration because he had shown that he was sincere and committed to conducting credible elections in 2011 as well as improving on the fortunes of Nigerians.
â€œI think there is great US support for Nigeria and also frustration because for many years there has been instability. I hope that Jonathan will be able to turn things around,â€ he said.
Carrington spoke to Vanguard in Lagos ahead of his 80th birthday celebration holding at City Hall, Lagos Island, tomorrow.
Asked if he believed the Jonathan government could conduct credible polls within five months, he said: â€œCertainly, I think he has made a good appointment in the person of the electoral chief. The problem, I think, is the problem of fraudulent past elections. I feel confident that President Jonathan is going to do his best and I think it is going to be a different election.â€
I Am impressed
On whether he is backing the President to contest the polls, he said: â€œI donâ€™t want to get involved in Nigerian politics. All I can say is that I have been very impressed with the way Jonathan had gone. It is up to Nigerians to decide what should happen.â€
Carrington, who said he had no regrets at 80 because he had been fortunate in the things he had done and would repeat them if they recurred, described Nigeria as his most favourite nation after the US, especially since he met his wife here.
Collaboration with US can end kidnapping
He decried the wave of kidnappingÂ in the country and urged the government to collaborate with the US, which he disclosed had similar problems in the 1920s, to tame the monster.
The envoy, who recalled that the late Gen. Sani Abacha military regime almost abducted him in the 1990s, said the rate of kidnapping in Nigeria â€œis very disturbing. We, at a time in the 1920s, had a lot of kidnappings in the United States. But the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, made its name by foiling kidnapping because it became known to the kidnappers that they were not going to get money or when they got money, they would be tracked.
â€œThe FBI developed a very sophisticated way of being able to track the money and apprehended the kidnappers when they came to collect the money. When the FBI did this over time, the kidnapping stopped. That is the kind of thing that should be done. I expect that the government here must be in touch with the FBI. I think they should meet with the FBI one-on-one.â€
Since the Abacha era, Carrington said things had looked up in the country even though a lot still needed to be done starting from the 50th independence anniversary to take Nigeria to the height she should be.
How Abacha regime tried to abduct me
Asked how the Abacha government tried to kidnapped him, he said: â€œIt was difficult under Abacha. US had a policy of sanctions against the Abacha government. As the Abacha government became more dictatorial, it became necessary to speak out against it. And the more I did it, the more the Abacha government did not like it and tried to make things difficult.
There were two instances that they went after me and the US embassy thwarted them. There was one where they were planning to intercept my vehicle on a way to an occasion. We found out and thwarted it. There was a more elaborate plan to try to kidnap me or put me in a compromising position that we found and thwarted. They were clearly not happy.