Welcome To Nigeria, Welcome To Africa, President Bush
New York, United States
Nigerians, Africans and indeed, all peoples of African descent in America and elsewhere, are delighted and immensely pleased, that you are visiting our continent! We appreciate with profound and keen interest, your foray into Africa and we will be watching, as you embark on this all-important visit to our continent.
Our expectations are justifiably and exceedingly high, especially in view of the immense power and clout of the United States in the world’s scheme of things.
America and Nigeria has a great deal in common, America like Nigeria, is a toss salad of diverse peoples, occupying great expanse of lands in God’s good earth, America and Nigeria makes good business and cultural partners, two great countries with known natural endowments, uncountable resources, and blessed with boundless energies and bountiful opportunities with limitless possibilities!
All that you must have heard, about our venerable and legendary hospitality are factually based and true! Based on these truths, I am certain that your trip will be fruitful, useful, productive and entertaining as well. We welcome our visitors and guests with all kindness and open arms We hope that our belief in you, our expectation, our faith and desires are met, as we believe strongly in the extraordinarily outstanding possibilities that comes with your visit, we pray that these expectations and hopes are not dashed. We earnestly and sincerely, pray that your visit amount to more than a photo-opportunity and the usual rhetoric (as some have already suggested, expressing reservations and even fears that your visit will not be backed with effective muscle and action)
The truth is that, the combined powers of your presidency and your country is enormous! These powers can be harnessed made into a powerful force to do so much good that will positively affect the lives of people in Africa and the well-publicized abject conditions in Africa!
Economy: Investment In Nigeria Will Mutually Benefit America and Nigeria Mr. President, as you are probably already aware, Nigeria has a large economy, it is very large and diverse indeed! There many American Companies that are already benefiting from their being engaged and involved in these great opportunities, for the mutual benefits of Americans and Nigerians, the Nigerian economy is replete with limitless and bountiful opportunities for the very experienced American individuals and Corporations with their world-renowned can do attitude!
American Companies are presently, primarily engaged in Nigeria’s extensive and vibrant petroleum exploration and exploitation sector, and such great American Companies, as, Exxon-Mobil, Texaco, Chevron, Halliburton just to mention a few of them, currently participate actively and effectively in Nigeria, hence Nigeria is the fifth largest supplier of the energy needs to the industrial base and the engine-room of the very versatile and resilient American economy.
However, there are other multifarious sectors or other areas of the Nigerian economy with open arms and invitation to great American Companies\Corporations and individuals involvements and participation in, areas such as, Agricultural Sector relating to food production and distribution, Automobile and the Transportation Sub-sector etc; Additionally, American Companies can derive enormous benefits from participation in the Construction sector, Nigeria has great needs to build more roads and build more homes, and this makes me start to think of Caterpillar Equipment manufacturer and Home Depot or Lowe Companies of America, as well.
I hope that your visit is an actualization of our positive aspirations for our countries, leading to meaningful trade and investments in and with Nigeria and all of Africa! Africa leaders launched NEPAD not long ago and these leaders would certainly appreciate the additional impetus that your timely visit, during your first term in office as president of the United States will bring. Please let your visit carry great weight, discernable, verifiable provable great actions and muscles that is supported with the true good America ingenuity and infectious spirit Nigeria, unlike Vietnam has never fought any wars with America! And yet Vietnam war led to the unfortunate untimely death of more than 53,000 American troops/service persons, and yet, Vietnam manage to have better trade relations with America compared with any African Countries!
North Korea that is at odds with the United States over its nuclear weapon acquisition and sale ambitions, managed to have received more help and all manners of US aid from the US, during the last 10 years compared with Nigeria! Why should those in the axis of evil manage to get more US help favorable attention, than say Nigeria, a friendly nation?
Mr. President sir, Please include the CEOs and representatives of the American Auto Makers, in your entourage! The Big Three of Detroit Motor City, will be glad and delighted that they accompanied you, there are vast roads in Nigeria and Nigerians similar to the Americans have love affair with cars! Nigerians are car Aficionados! And the Japanese, the French and Germans have been exploiting the Nigerian automobile market exclusively! It is time for Detroit to join the fun! Invest in the auto industry in Nigeria, and they will soon be making a “killing”! The automobile industry in Nigeria is in its infancy, it is a green field waiting to be harnessed! Take GM, Chrysler and Ford executives with you! This will be part of dividends arising from Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) by the United States, it will be the logical step that will bring forth immense benefits to Nigeria, Africa and America!
Debt Cancellation or Forgiveness For Nigeria
Nigeria is indebted to the governments and some private institutions United States and Western Europe, this debts is approximately Twenty Eight Billion US Dollars! In view of Nigeria’s GDP and national income per capita, this foreign debt and the servicing of these debts are stifling to Nigerians and Nigeria! These foreign debts has stymied economic growth and deprived the average Nigerian citizen, any semblance or modicum of decent living in Nigeria!
I plead with you, to add your voice, the power of your office and the prestige of the United States to the request of Africans for the urgent need for the United States and Europe to cancel or forgive these debts, some of these debts are bogus to begin with, and worse, the cost of servicing these debt are crushingly overwhelming to the average economy and humble Africans citizens bearing the liabilities and burden of these debts, the interests payments have outstripped the original debts! The original principal debts were much less compared to the outrageous and usurious interests that Africans have become bedeviled with. The IMF and the World Bank have not been particularly helpful! What with their very suffocating economic policy prescriptions that they are quick to impose on Africans, with attendant excruciating agonies and pains for the Africans? All these are arguably, inflicted upon the Africans by these Breton Woods Institutions for and on behalf of America and Europe! The debts issues are now matters of urgency and extreme emergency in Africa! Mr. President, your voice and prestige can change this!
Foreign Aid Channeling To Nigeria And Other African Countries
Foreign Aid has perennially bypassed Africa to other parts of the world! Mr. President, historically, foreign aid, the bulk of it, does not flow to Africa! For some reasons, or perhaps, no reasons at all? Foreign Aid does not necessarily flow to where the needs are greatest!
We have found glaring disparities and double standards in the applications of policies affecting African peoples and issues, when compared to the effect and zealous implementation of same or similar policies to other countries outside of Africa.
This is the foreign aid ambivalence, as it has existed for hundreds of years! And this abysmal situation has led some to say that the United States does not have any policies towards Africa, at all or that, if policies exist at all, it is permanently lopsided and skewed against Africans!
Unfortunately, this is the case, regardless of the fact that the need and challenges in Africa are greatest (at least everyone agrees on this! Everyone realizes the gaping urgent needs in Africa!) Nigeria for example has more people and more needs than Egypt and Israel combined, but Egypt and Israel receive Billions of Dollars yearly in foreign aid, loan guarantees and material aid etc from the US, We do not begrudge them, but what about us? We are a friendly nation and we have maintained good relationship with the US forever!
Sometimes aid is just a drop in the bucket? Foreign aid will have impact, when all factors are taken into account, for example, it is no foreign justice, to give Five Billion Dollars yearly in aid, say a country of Five Million people as her population, and then offer a paltry One Hundred Million Dollars to another country with a population of 130 Million people, with more pressing needs and challenges! The outcome or results are clearly predetermined by the sheer overwhelming numbers in the latter country’s population and the considerably and spectacularly lesser amount of Dollars offered to the latter! For foreign aid to work, it must take population size into consideration, while the quantification of the targeted crises is also essential, this will prevent the appearance of putting water in a basket, and the attendant so-called foreign aid donor fatigue!
The US is even said to have better trade relations with Vietnam compared with Nigeria! That in-itself speaks volumes! Nigeria desires closer ties with the US, trade and investment consistent with the axiom of, if you teach someone how to fish, you may no longer have to give her fish!
Self-sufficiency and self-sustaining attitude takes over!
It remains the case that geopolitics, lobbying abilities and other extraneous factors and incidental matters, are what determine, where foreign aid from America and Europe goes! Wars, Famine, Drought, Catastrophes and Diseases In Africa Mr. President sir, you have recently demonstrated your willingness to focus on African issues and become actively engaged or play roles in managing the various crises, notably in Liberia and the Congo.
This is a welcomed development of events, deeply appreciated by all Africans at home and abroad and of course by Americans and others who wish Africans and Africa well. It has been the case that African issues and crises are almost always ignored, this nonchalance has led some to be very skeptical as to whether your good faith pronouncements will be followed with effective policies and actions! Concrete actions!
We have witnessed American dropping food at 35,000 feet in the air to enemy countries while making distinctions between the peoples of such countries and the governments, in which case, the US sought to punish the governments, but making efforts to alleviate the sufferings and hardship of the ordinary citizens of said countries, the US demonstrated this in the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan most recently, in Iraq! This makes some wonder why Africans are always treated differently!
The truth, all through history is that, 99% of the governments and peoples of Africa have never been hostile to the people and government of the United States! But curiously, Africans do not receive aid, not even humanitarian food drops as the US has repeatedly done for citizens of countries that have been declared enemies of the United States, such as Afghanistan and Iraq!
What gives? There appear to be the unspoken policy and attitude, that portrays Africa as the inconvenient part of the world, or just a mere nuisance and an irritant on the world, so that, some constantly express irritations, frustrations and fatigue in connection with all African issues and without doing anything at all to stop, alleviate or eliminate the crises, or abysmal conditions that lead to these crises! A good example of recent memory is the catastrophic deaths in Rwanda/Burundi that the UN and the entire world watched and left to fester until it led to horrific crescendo!
Why are wars and humanitarian conditions in Africa viewed differently? And treated differently? I have already heard some question your planned intervention or assistance in the crises in Liberia as they have asked, whether “Liberia meets the threshold of US national security requirements to send America troops there?” But why are wars and calamities, catastrophes and human sufferings in Africa always reduced to that criteria or parameter?
The US has great power and goodwill and enormous resources, resources that I have seen used elsewhere outside of Africa, even where no obvious American national security interests are at stake! Wars are Wars! Wars are not particularly friendly endeavor or undertaking; However, I am fully aware that some view wars in Africa as senseless and unnecessary deaths and brutalities! “ The Africans just lust for blood and deaths?” Whereas, Wars in other countries that are not in Africa, usually arise from “very intelligent philosophical disagreements”
The crisis in the Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone is not much different! For me, all human lives have equal value! Regardless of circumstances of birth, color and creed or nationalities or continents of origin, but African lives are quickly devalued and ignored by too many, who are in position to do so much, those in position to stem crises, as they often do elsewhere outside Africa! Africans do not and have never threatened American national interests, except for the aberration and very peculiar circumstances in that was Somalia.
American Presidential Visits to Nigeria/History of State Visits
President Jimmy Carter and President Bill Clinton are the other American presidents who have paid state visits to Nigeria in the past, they visited Nigeria in 1977 and 2000 respectively, President Bush will be the first Republican President of the United States to pay a state visit to Nigeria, We hope that the visit is useful and productive and serves the best interests, the best national interests of America and Nigeria and all of Africa! We wish you and your entourage a safe trip, fruitful and mutually beneficial deliberations and a safe return for you and your entire staff and entourage!
Your visit to Nigeria, Africa, is a demonstration of your faith in Nigeria, Africa, and I take that to heart, because, those, as yourself, who would find something to admire in Nigeria and all of Africa, despite our continent’s economic and political challenges or crises; We whole heartedly wish well, those who reach out to us and we pray that their lives will overflow with life’s goodness and abundance! Thank you Mr. President! For going to Nigeria at all, you my new best friend! Bon Voyage! Sanu da zuwa! Nodu Ofuma! Eku abo! You Waka Well! God has always blessed America and Nigeria, and will continue to do so, even more abundantly!
Paul I. Adujie is a Nigerian Lawyer and an Information Technology Professional.