Thursday, 13 August 2009

Postscript of a visit

Apologies for ending the live blogging post rather abruptly. I'll try to do a quick wrap-up on how the visit ended and reflect on the coverage from other sources.

1. It appears that the insinuations on snubs and disregard for protocols wouldn't go away and were being raised by sections of the local media yesterday here , here and even in today's Guardian Editorial. Ojo Maduekwe according to Daily Trust "denied reports that the American Embassy did not involve the Nigerian government in the planning of Clinton’s itinerary while in Nigeria, saying the embassy consulted and collaborated with his ministry to ensure the success of the visit"

2. Hillary Clinton sat down for a candid interview with Mo Abudu of Moments with Mo. (Transcript)
Here is an interesting exchange from the interview:

QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary. As an African people, we are very submissive, we are very accepting. Authority is something that we respect very much. So in this society of ours, when we see things going wrong, how can we as citizens make change happen? Because we are so accepting and we are so submissive, what do we do?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that’s an interesting analysis. I’ve never heard it put like that before. Every society has social and psychological characteristics. And what you say will cause me to think very hard on your description. But assuming that your description fits generally, I think there are several approaches.

3. I caught the tail end of her Town Hall meeting on AIT and the vote of thanks by Evelyn Oputu. It appears she saved her strongest words for this event and those looking for the real sentiments of Mrs Clinton on this trip can find some in the things she said there.

AFP reports that: "Clinton, appearing later at a public forum to be broadcast nationwide, said that the major oil producer suffered from "a failure to use the wealth that God gave you to lift up the people. The lack of transparency and accountability has eroded the legitimacy of the government and contributed to the rise of groups that embrace violence and reject the authority of the state.""

Here are highlights of her remarks as reported by Daily Trust:

Mrs. Clinton said, “The most immediate source of the disconnect between Nigeria’s wealth and its poverty is a failure of governance at the federal, state and local level.
The lack of transparency and accountability has eroded the legitimacy of the government and contributed to the rise of groups that embrace violence and reject the authority of the state,” she said.
Cutting off applause from a boisterous crowd mid-sentence, Clinton said that the United States supported Nigeria’s entry in the Group of 20—the club of key rich and developing nations—but hesitated because of its corruption.
She said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which had been “doing good work in the past has fallen back in the past one year.
Clinton rattled off a string of figures, including a World Bank study that Nigeria’s corruption and related problems had cost the country some 300 billion dollars over the past three decades.
The raw numbers are staggering but they don’t tell you how many hospitals and roads could have been built; they don’t tell you how many schools could have opened, or how many more Nigerians could have attended college or how many mothers might have survived childbirth if that money had been spent differently,” said an enlivened Clinton.
Today I’m in Nigeria, a country that produces two million barrels of oil a day, has the 7th largest oil reserve than any country in the world. But according to the UN, the poverty rate in Nigeria has gone up from 46 per cent to 76 per cent over the last 13 years

According to The Nation, "among those who asked Mrs Clinton questions were Joe Okei-Odumakin, Femi Falana and Jibrin Ibrahim"
The Miami Herald reports that "Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim, head of the Centre for Democracy and Development, a Nigerian think tank, said, "Things have gone down rather than up in the fight against corruption since this government came into power."
Ibrahim said Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the government's anti-corruption watchdog, has been less progressive about pursuing cases and audits on the country's oil industry were running four years behind"

Thisday also reports Mrs Clinton as saying “The EFCC has fallen off in the last two years. We want to see them start work again as before.

I'll put up a link to the full event as soon as I get one.

4. I also watched NTA's interview with Jibrin Chinade (the Presiden't adviser on International Relations) on the Network News. His brief was to put a good spin on the days events and from his remarks he gave the sense that the announcement of a Bi-National Commission was the most significant aspect of the trip (at least from the government's viewpoint).

5. The Guardian (Lagos) Editorial in full.

6. According to The Guardian (London) Clinton let off a gaffe during her town hall meeting yesterday. The report said in apparent reference to Jeb Bush and the 200 elections in Florida, she "told an audience of civil activists that Nigeria's election system was flawed and "lack of transparency and accountability has eroded the legitimacy of the government and contributed to the rise of groups that embrace violence and reject the authority of the state".
But she went on to draw a parallel with the US. "Our democracy is still evolving. You know we had some problems in some of our presidential elections. As you may remember, in 2000 our presidential election came down to one state where the brother of one of the men running for president was governor of the state. So we have our problems too.""

Gaffe or not, I think she was just being truthful.

(photo credits: Vanguard,

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