BY Sonia O’Abah

A rather curious thing happened when U.S.A president, Barrack Obama, embarked on his first official trip to Africa shortly after assuming office as the first African – American to head the government of the most powerful nation on earth. Conspicuously missing from the list of the African countries to be visited by the United States leader was none other than Nigeria.

Given that this is not just the most populous black nation on earth but also the seventh global oil giant, millions of eyebrows were raised. What must have made Obama to choose neigbouring nations such as Ghana for his historic visit, whereas the so–called giant of Africa was embarrassingly shunned? This and similar such posers reigned supreme in the wake of Obama’s unspoken indictment of Nigeria.

Understandably feeling utterly embarrassed and outraged, the Goodluck Jonathan administration labored to put a spin on that elephant – size snub. Even as Aso Rock’s spin doctors labored to belittle the import of Obama’s slight, the government claimed that U.S.A was being “envious” and “petty” and that China (rather than the U.S.A) was the world newest economic and military powerhouse. Apparently to pay U.S.A back in its own coin, Jonathan paid a high profile visit to China, spiced with a series of sweetheart economic deals.

But the Nigerian government’s fire – brigade response to Obama’s scathing rebuff merely glossed over a somewhat cancerous malaise. The then USA Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, gave an insight into what riles Obama’s administration when she pointedly declared during a whistle – stop visit to Nigeria that the level of wanton corruption in officialdom as well as executive lawlessness and violation of human rights were at the root of her country’s lukewarm attitude toward Jonathan and company.

That was then. Investigations by this medium shows that between then and now the Barrack Obama administration has gotten “madder” with Jonathan and his top lieutenants over the same issue that had elicited the USA leader’s anger many years ago. According to a western diplomat privy to the undeclared war of attrition raging between the two countries, what irked the Americans most is that rather than curb corruption and deal with the sundry other issues which they (USA) brought to the attention of Abuja long ago, these very issues (particularly graft and sundry other impunity) have snowballed over the years”.

She added that “you would recall that even before the advent of the incumbent administration, an official agency of the American government had declared, based on the solid indices and verifiable evidence at hand, that Nigeria could disintegrate by 2015. That prediction had appeared rather far – fetched as at that time, but recent events (particularly the raging Boko insurgency) seems to not only to be vindicating that prediction, but is in fact proving it dead on target”.

To make things worse, the Americans are reportedly “deeply disappointed” over the “abysmal” manner the federal government has been handling the Boko Haram challenge. Aside from the fact that the billions budgeted for the any – terror campaign are allegedly being diverted to other areas (as evident in the troop’s persistent complaint over neglect of their welfare and lack of equipment) U.S.A official are also reportedly mad that rather than device effective ways of fighting the insurgents, Aso rock has been more enmeshed in playing politics with the otherwise grave situation.

It would be recalled that in the heat of playing such politics, the erstwhile Adamawa State governor, Murtala Nyako, had lambasted Jonathan for allegedly fanning the embers of the terror campaign for partisan gain. In fact, the conventional wisdom is that officialdom is scheming to use the Boko Haram issue as an excuse to ensure that the Northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa (APC’s stronghold) are excluded from the 2015 general election. This tactic, the USA believes, smacks of under hand tactics to be used to outwit the opposition presidential candidate.

DESERT HERALD reliably learnt that it was against this background that the U.S.A decides last week to cancel its military training of Nigerian troops rather unceremoniously. Even though that country’s Diplomatic mission in Abuja attributed the cancellation to have been instigated of Nigeria’s request, informed source said the Americans had cleverly engineered the whole thing with a view to ensuring that no blame would be apportioned to them in the event Boko Haram, were to gain more advantage over the Nigerian military.

Aside from that, the Oboma government is believed to be mulling some tough sanctions against Nigeria if the Goodluck Jonathan regime messes up the forthcoming general elections. “Aside from embargoes that would target Nigeria’s economic and military sectors,” squealed our usually dependable source, “assets of top officials of the Jonathan government would be frozen, in addition to placing travel restrictions on them”.

The source added that in the same vein the Obama administration plans to put pressure on members of the European Union and other strategic partners of the United States to ensure that should it be necessary to impose sanctions on the Nigeria regime either before or after the 2015 general poll; the action would be total and comprehensive.”


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