23rd September, 2010
Prof. Adebowale Adefuye, Nigeria Ambassador to the U.S., has described the latest reportÂ by a former American envoy to Nigeria on Nigeriaâ€™s political future as mischievous, whichÂ should be ignored.
Amb. John Campbell, former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria on Tuesday published another reportÂ on Nigeria, warning that post-electoral violence could result in a military coup.
Adefuye said Campbellâ€™s view was mischievous and â€œdoes not represent that of the currentÂ American administrationâ€.
Campbellâ€™s earlier thesis on 9 Sept. entitled â€œNigeria on the brink,what happens if theÂ 2010 elections failâ€Â was also condemned by the Nigeria government as â€œirresponsible.â€
Campbellâ€™s latest series, published by the U.S think tank group, Council on ForeignÂ Relations (CFR), is entitled â€œElectoral violence in Nigeriaâ€.
The report, described as a CFR contingency planning memorandum, states thatÂ post-electoral violence in Nigeria may result to a â€œhumanitarian catastrophe, or aÂ complete shutdown of Nigeriaâ€™s oil industry, greatly impacting the international oilÂ marketâ€.
The 11-page memo notes that Nigeriaâ€™s upcoming election, scheduled for January 2011, mayÂ well be the first in the countryâ€™s history featuring a genuine political contest betweenÂ the predominantly Christian South and the Muslim North.
It says candidates may be tempted to leverage Nigeriansâ€™ ethnic and religious identitiesÂ for political gain, a practice that may lead to widespread electoral violence or even aÂ military coup.
â€œThis Centre for Preventive Action Contingency Planning Memorandum by Ambassador JohnÂ Campbell describes the events and trends that indicate Nigerian politics are followingÂ this dangerous trajectory and recommends U.S. policy options for preventing andÂ containing fragmentation of Nigerian society,â€ an overview of the memo says.
It concludes that the U.S should capitalise on the value elite Nigerians place on theirÂ countryâ€™s bilateral relationship with the U.S. to hedge against the worst outcomes theÂ 2011 election might produce.
Campbell, in the memo, outlined a variety of diplomatic tools the U.S can use toÂ forestall or mitigate the potential for violence.
â€œThe Obama administration should proactively use its power to revoke the visas of thoseÂ involved in fomenting ethnic and religious strife.
â€œThe Obama administration should consider how and
in what forum it would hold perpetrators of human rights abuses personally responsibleÂ for their actions.
â€œIf it has not already done so, the U.S. should start contingency planning for theÂ potential evacuation of American citizens from Nigeria in the event of widespread postÂ election violence,â€ he said.
The ambassador also asked the U.S Government to initiate regular consultations on NigeriaÂ with the European Union, Canada, Australia, Japan, and China.
He added that there should be parallel consultations with the African Union and with theÂ ECOWAS states.
Furthermore, he said through diplomatic channels including the Bi-national Commission andÂ public statements, the U.S should reiterate that the conduct of Nigeriaâ€™s 2011 electionsÂ affected the bilateral relationship.
â€œIn the run-up to 2011, the administration should not accept uncritically JonathanÂ administration claims and assurances that elections will be free, fair and credible.
The U.S should also advocate for INECâ€™s independence from the presidency, publicly holdÂ Abuja responsible for controlling ethnic violence, and continue to support through smallÂ grants those Nigerian nongovernmental organizations working for peace and reconciliation.
Adefuye noted that within a period of two weeks Campbell had predicted the worst caseÂ scenario for post 2011 election Nigeria based on â€œhalf truths, contradictory statementsÂ serious bias, ignorance and mischievous intentions.
â€œWhen my attention was first drawn to John Campbellâ€™s second write-up within a week ofÂ his earlier write up, titled Nigeria on the brink, to which I replied, I was initiallyÂ tempted to agree with the suggestion to ignore the attention seeking and disingenuousÂ prophet of doom.
â€œThe strength of that suggestion lies in the fact that John Campbellâ€™s view do notÂ represent that of the current American administration
â€œHe is now retired. Moreover John Campbell I am told belongs to a small minority ofÂ observers of the Nigerian situation who are jocularly referred to as the pessimists.
â€œBut I later thought of the need to point out some contradictions in his thesis and hopeÂ that he will let Nigeria be,â€ Adefuye said.
He said a greater part of the article by Campbell sounded more like a journey into fantasyland as to how after the election there would be communal violence ,Â breakdown of law and order, and a possible coup .
â€œNigerians are not unaware of their leadership role in Africa and our responsibility inÂ creating a politically stable Nigeria, which will promote and encourage the sustenance ofÂ democracy good governance rule of law, and human rights in Africa.
â€œThis is why we are resolved to get it right this time regardless of John Campbell andÂ his ilk,â€ he said.
Adefuye said what worried him most was that he could â€œnot expect a man who had served asÂ ambassador to a country to wish that country so ill.
â€œMost ambassadors look with favour and wish the best for countries where they have beenÂ privileged to serve.
â€œThis is why some of John Campbellâ€™s colleagues who have served in Nigeria have beenÂ shocked and astounded by his damaging articles the timing of which has been soÂ insensitive and mischievous .
â€œIt is the responsibility of the U.S. Government to choose whoever they like as theÂ ambassador to Nigeria but our prayer is that May the like of John Campbell never come ourÂ way again,â€ Adefuye said.