At last the President of the United States, Barack Obama, would visit Nigeria on 28 May, 2013, as part of a three-nation tour of Africa, ending speculation of the Obama scorn with the flawed elections in 2007 that brought Umaru Yar’Adua to the Presidency.
Seen as long overdue but coming at a time when security is the number one item on the country’s agenda, the 44th President of the United States is expected to parley with President Jonathan on how to tackle the niggling problems of insecurity, the economy and trade relations between both nations. President Obama would be interested in hearing President’s Jonathan’s plan to control the Boko Haram insurgents who he plans to offered amnesty, even as the sect continues to slay hundreds in their quest to end western education in the country apart from kidnapping foreigners for ransom.
The growing bases of Al Quaeda, a long term enemy of America and its allies, along the Lake Chad region resulting from their recent dislodgement from Mali may find space on their agenda.
Both men are likely to contemplate the resurgence of Niger Delta militancy, which had simmered with the granting of amnesty by former President Yar’Adua. On the political side, they may weigh the propriety of a Jonathan candidacy in 2015 and the implications for democracy not only for Nigeria, but also for the African continent as well as the implication of good governance as exemplified by Nigeria for the stability of the sub-region. It is speculated that both presidents would broach issues on economic co-operation not least the upbeat forecasts of the emergence of Nigeria as an economic force, what with the country’s latitude for growth.
America would be interested in a partnership that would engender a favourable outcome for both countries whose bilateral trade hit $5 trillion in the first quarter of 2012.
It would be an opportunity for President Jonathan to engage Obama on the US exploitation of Shale gas projected to cut a quarter US imports of Nigeria’s oil by the end of the year. They could discuss how Nigeria can benefit from alternative energy programme of the United States. It would give President Jonathan a chance to see how the AGOA programme can be improved to favour Nigeria’s businesses, especially the SMEs.
Obama’s planned session with businessmen while in the country assures that there is yet scope for improving business and trade relations between both countries. Obama’s visit is believed to be five years late given that he was billed to have visited the country in his first term in office, especially when he visited other African countries, including Ghana, which is only 30 minutes away from Nigeria by flight.
Of that snob, Nobel Literature Prize winner, Professor Wole Soyinka, said, “If Obama decides to grace Nigeria with his presence, I will stone him. The message he is sending by going to Ghana is so obvious, is so brilliant that he must not render it flawed by coming to Nigeria any time soon.”