US Congress building
By Nduka Nwosu in Washington
Worried by the security challenge facing the country and the threat of post-election violence from next month’s poll, United States Congress has slated hearing titled: ‘Nigeria on the Brink’ for Tuesday.
Also at the weekend, the State Department confirmed that Secretary of State, John Kerry, will be in Lagos this Sunday to emphasise the importance of ensuring that the upcoming elections are peaceful, non-violent and credible. This confirmed THISDAY’s earlier story on the planned visit. A statement issued by the Department’s Deputy Spokesperson, Marie Harf, said Kerry will meet with "President Goodluck Jonathan and Major General (Retired) Muhammadu Buhari.”
The hearing which will be conducted by the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Sub-committee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organisations, will also focus on what the US government should do to get the relationship with Nigeria back on track.
The House Committee chairman, Christopher Smith (R-NJ), who issued a statement on the hearing, asked: “Why Nigeria?”
“Nigeria is an important African nation, not just for that region, but also for the international community as a whole. This major oil producer, which is also Africa’s most populous nation, is facing a variety of crises, including an increasingly vicious war against Boko Haram, the threat of post-election violence following the upcoming presidential election next month, ongoing inter-religious and inter-ethnic conflict and an economy suffering from drastically reduced revenue due to falling oil prices. This comes at a time when US-Nigeria relations are said to be at a low point. This hearing will examine Nigeria’s challenges and what the U.S. government should do to get our relations with Nigeria, especially involving security cooperation, back on track,” Smith stated.
The hearing, which will be made up of two panels, will have Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, Department of State, Robert P. Jackson, as witness in Panel I. Director Africa Centre Atlantic Council, Peter Pham; Principal Partner, Bonajo Badejo & Co., Mr. Jadegoke Adebonajo Badejo; Manager, Justice for Jos Project, Jubilee Campaign USA,Mr. Emmanuel Ogebe, and Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and West Africa National Democratic Institute, Chris Fomunyoh, are witnesses in Panel II.
Meanwhile, Director of African Programmes of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Ms. Jennifer Cooke, has apologised for the cancellation of the much advertised public lecture on “Nigeria’s future as it stands on the edge of a pivotal national elections” slated to hold tomorrow in Washington DC. APC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, was billed to speak at the event.
Apologising over the cancellation of the Buhari lecture, Cooke said: “In the run-up to the election, the leaderships of Nigeria’s two main political parties were both extended an invitation to speak at CSIS. We apologise for any inconvenience this cancellation may cause.”
Nigeria’s security challenges and the upcoming election have been of interest to US policy makers. Nigeria’s Ambassador to the US, Professor Ade Adefuye, had addressed an interactive session organised by the Corporate Council for Africa last week, that Nigeria will surely hold a free and fair election next month and will go on to become strong and united to the shame of those waiting for the disintegration of the country.
However Adefuye who in the last one week has been addressing a mixed audience of the international community in Washington, Ohio and Atlanta left one recurring message: "Nigeria will emerge stronger and better after the 2015 elections" assuring his audience it is well with the country while former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, at an interactive session on the 2015 elections said there was need for a better management and implementation of state resources asking for a free and fair elections.
Adefuye responded that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was not only ready to conduct a transparent electoral process but was independent in all ramifications.
He continued: “The conduct of the 2011 elections was largely satisfactory to the majority of the local populace as well as the international community with the assistance of our foreign partners, the capacity of the electoral commission to discharge its duty effectively has been strengthened
Said Adefuye: “The Commission is far from being perfect; in fact, as of now, there have been criticisms of its handling of the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC), but the Commission is very responsive and is expected to address this and other gaps before the elections in February.”