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US DIPLOMACY IN AFRICA


By Professor Dr. Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai
Published August 9th, 2009

At the Berlin Conference in1884, European nations divided Africa into spheres of influence. Nigeria fell under British colonial rule. In 1960, Nigeria became an independent state. The United States of America opened diplomatic relations with Nigeria and supported Nig eria's membership of the United Nations Organization. Nigerian-America diplomatic relations did not quite click until the late 1977, when General Olusegun Obasanjo took over from the patriotic General Murtala Mohammed, who was assassinated.

The United States has assisted African states since 1960, more than the European states, which benefited from colonial rule. Giant American oil companies like Mobil, Chevron and Ford motors established business houses in some African states. Other American institutions advanced the investment and intellectual pursuits by Africans.

The US Press hindered US-African diplomatic relations by reporting inaccurately issues concerning African development. They excitedly jumped to report crisis, exaggerating chaos to highs that it did not deserve. In so doing, they created unnecessary fear and doubt in the minds of would-be investors.

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When the Chinese and other East Asia states entered the African trade, the Western press started complaining about Chinese take-over of the African markets, but it was too late..Even when emergent Africa showed the willingness to turn itself around, the Western media was not impressed. It must denigrate African leaders and the people. It often amuses me when I read reports from Western journalists, who are fractionally knowledgeable about African history and civilization. Yet, these form the basis of preaching’s to Africans everywhere.

A Kenyan newspaper carried in screaming headlines the admonition that the US Secretary of State should not lecture Kenyans", in matters they understand better. Talking about corruption, I have acquainted myself with the subject from the betrayal of Judas of His Master, JESUS, The CHRIST to Maddock and Stanford financial recklessness. The frailty of man in corrupt practices is plain, since the devil takes all the blame for mans’ temptations. There has been a trans-Atlantic financial business, which involves both "civilized" and not-so-civilized states. Corruption is the name of the game. . Governments know the perpetrators. These people help them win elections and other not-so-decent ways of life..

The US Secretary of State should explore the possibilities of recommending massive investment in Africa's hydro-carbon, solid minerals, education, health, and other fields yawning for cooperation. Corrupt leaders know that they are corrupt and are proud of it. Business should ride on top gear not preaching to deaf leaders. Clinton's diplomatic assignment will not succeed, if intangible things are put first. US trade relations with Africa needs serious studies. What companies can America transfer to African suitable sites in strategic African states? Will GM do better by manufacturing in Angola? Why should Harvard and Yale Universities not have campuses in the Gulf states.

Why not transform Sao Tome and Principe as well as Equatorial Guinea into international trade centers, to serve the sub-region? The US should drop its world democratizing role. It is not working. There are abundant strategic minerals in Morocco, copper and cobalt in Zambia, gold, diamonds, uranium, chromes, and nickel etc. The US should raise capital to cooperate in this developmental endeavour. The advantage would outweigh the cost in terms of providing jobs and uplifting the local population.

To garrison troops around the world, in pursuit of power play is anachronistic and wasteful. All those men and women, who have lost their jobs can be sent to Africa, on secondment. I have developed a strategic plan as to how this can be put into beneficial use. There is need for growth in the African condition. Poetic condemnation of corruption will not be sufficient but creating abundance is more helpful. The Canadian maple leaf strategy works. Chinese aggressive hinterland marketing is bringing results. South Korea, India, Russia, these states are competing quietly, without making it obvious. Nigeria has developed financial and market-friendly institutions. Why cant the US empower these outfits, in order to foster international trade between the US and Nigeria? Africa is the New World of opportunities! Not to realize this is to go through modern life half-blind and half-deaf. I know that Mrs. Hillary Clinton loves to discuss human rights. In 1991, when she stood in for Bill Clinton and spoke at Boalt Hall, at the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, I had asked her during question time why Americans talk more about civil rights than human rights. She responded extensively. So, after my book, "Human Rights in International Law" 2nd edition was published, I sent a copy to "BILL and HILLARY".

Bill acknowledged receipt with thanks. I had predicted that they would win. They won twice. In 1992, after he was sworn in, Bill Clinton sponsored a World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, Austria. Ever since, the insistence on human rights as an irreducible minimum to good governance, has gained acceleration in the right direction. The rule of law and the rule of force seem hard to reconcile. When Mrs. Hillary Clinton visits Nigeria, I say Barki de Zua, E Kabo, Nnoo!!!

Professor Dr. Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai is the Academic Chancellor, BOSAS INTERNATIONAL LAW BUREAU, ABUJA,FCT,NIGERIA.

 

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