Saturday, April 1, 2023


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·There was a news item last week that escaped the starry eyes of financial reporters and “diplomatic watchers” in Nigeria.
An America Congress woman, Sheila Johnson Lee, representing the 18th District of Texas sponsored a controversial bill that focuses on Nigeria and the attempt to recover the looted funds especially the ones traced to late Gen. Sani Abacha.
According to the lawmaker and the sponsors of the bill in the US Congress – the America government should set aside all or part of Abacha loot for the victims of Boko Haram and the reconstruction of the war ravaged North-East.
As lofty as this suggestion is, it is an affront, an outright insult to our National Sovereignty. In the first place, there is no way the Americans will love the people of North East- Nigeria,  more than the people of Nigeria, who have them as brothers, sisters, cousins, fathers and mothers.
Secondly, I cannot remember President Buhari on his last visit to America appointing Sheila or any other American as his Foreign Financial Adviser / Consultant on looted funds. Evidently, this is a situation of the sympathizer crying more than the bereaved. It has also revealed the mindset of most European nations and especially America towards Nigeria and by extension Africa; seeing us as a “kindergarten” continent, a failed state that must be tutored/lectured, guided on how to conduct its affairs and run its national budget.
But who will blame Sheila and others with this mindset? When a nation such as Nigeria losses focus of its God given potentials and find itself operating at the level of a failed state; it simply attracts the attention of political undertakers and other “do gooders” to prescribe or proffer solution to its problems.
Ever before Sheila came up with her brainwave induced bill at the Congress, President Muhammadu Buhari had on January 1, inaugurated the North East Rehabilitation Commission, under the Chairmanship of the elder statesman, Gen. T Y Danjuma (retired) and ably supported by the richest African alive ,Alhaji Aliko Dangote to coordinate the financial inflow from abroad and Nigeria in support and rehabilitation of North East and rebuilding the destroyed infrastructure, schools, hospitals, roads, electricity, water facilities etc.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly has sponsored a bill to give a legal backing to the activities of the North East rehabilitation commission. The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki was quoted as saying that: “the effort of the bill, is aimed at creating the legislative framework to enable government provide the basic structures and capacities that will enable it rebuild the North East”.
He went on further to say; “it will also provide an avenue for external collaboration such as International Development Agencies, to make effective contributions towards the region and to further ensure internal stability a base for restoration, rehabilitation and conflict resolution”.
Only last week, the America Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwhistle, announced on behalf of other international donors a grant of 10.5 million America dollars in assistance of the victims of Boko Haram and reconstruction of infrastructure damaged in the war. The donor agencies are USAID, WHO, UNFDA and UNICEF. The question is: is the American congress woman aware of all these efforts, initiative directed at rebuilding, rehabilitating the war ravaged North East?
While we acknowledge genuine concern of people like Sheila and others in making suggestions and giving advice to Nigeria and other African countries, we detest a situation where the internal affairs of a sovereign nation like Nigeria would become the legislative discussions and debates in Western Parliaments. We already have a National Assembly in place in Nigeria, to legislate over such matters and the Abacha loot forms a component of Nigeria’s financial projection and expectation for the 2016 financial year.
Probably, the American congress is not aware of other flash points like Agatu/Fulani in Benue, described by the UN Secretary General, Banki Moon as a “wasteland” and also the recent herdsmen attack on some Eastern states leaving hundreds displaced people and as many as forty Seven dead.
Meanwhile, the Ogoni-land is still awaiting the much talked about “cleaning up exercise” and rehabilitation of its environment. While Odi remained a metaphor of a barren land brought about by excessive use of military power and executive recklessness by past administration in Nigeria.
America and other European nations should learn to respect the sovereignty of African nations. Ours is not just flag independence but a true independence fought for and earned on a platter of national struggle against imperialism and racism.
The writer is an anti-corruption campaigner and Executive Director, Africa Development Studies Center (ADSC), Abuja. The opinion expressed here is personal not necessarily reflecting that of ADSC.

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