Friday, May 22, 2009

Why Obama is going to Ghana

"OL'boy, are you watching CNN now?"

"No. I dey Tarmac dey chop life"

"What are you chopping?"

"Peppersoup. Correct isi ewu and nkwobi"

"Be careful. You may be taking a typhoid concoction."

"No. Oh. This one cures malaria. It is specially prepared. And the thing sweet no be small. Leave me make I chop the life of my head."

"Look, that's not why I called. I think you should go and watch CNN right now. It is a sad day for Nigeria. In fact every Nigerian must hide his or her head in shame."

"What is it again this time? Dis kin country wey no go let person rest. Problem today. Wahala tomorrow. To be a Nigerian na crime?"

"Obama is visiting Africa in July and he is not coming to Nigeria"

"And so? Is he a Nigerian? Let him go to his Kenya. Obama is coming to the land of his fathers. Is that why I should stop enjoying my nkwobi?"

"Did you hear what I said? How many bottles have you taken? Obama is coming to Africa on a presidential visit in July and he is visiting Egypt and Ghana. He and Michelle, his wife, will spend two days in Ghana. I think that is an insult to Nigeria. I mean the Americans are deliberately rubbishing us."

"But you should know why? That is America's own way of sending a strong message that they are unhappy with the situation in Nigeria."

"That is why I am sad."

"That is how the American foreign policy process works. It is based on a reward and sanctions principle, if you like - carrot and stick. America goes out of its way to reward countries that are doing well. It sanctions those that appear to be doing badly and a sanction can be in any form. Obama flying over Nigeria to go to Ghana is an act of snobbery. It is the most painful form of sanction"

"But what is it that Egypt is doing well?"

"It is a strategic choice. Egypt is a strategic U.S. ally in the Middle East and America's major bilateral partner."

"Nigeria is also strategic. We sell crude oil to the United States. American oil companies are Nigeria's Joint Venture partners. We supported the U.S. African High Command in the Gulf of Guinea. We have a long history of relationship with the United States. We are the most powerful, the most populous..."

"I beg. Leave that matter oh. Nigerians can't fool anybody with that slogan anymore. Don't you get it? You want Obama to come to Nigeria shortly after the shameful electoral process in Ekiti? You want him to visit Abuja and address your National Assembly? The same National Assembly where the lawmakers are being accused of corruption? You want Obama to attend a dinner in Nigeria where nearly all the people he would come across will be persons who organise the snatching of ballot boxes, the distribution of bribe, oil thieves, tax evaders, treasury looters, and aggressive Nigerian women who will be waiting for Michelle to go to the ladies for a second so they can swoop on the U.S. President, and squeeze their numbers into his palm? You think the Americans don't know?"

"You are not serious. You should stand up for your country. We are not worse than Pakistan or Egypt, and even Obama's Kenya."

"Obama is a brand apart from being the U.S. President. His handlers must have advised him that this is not a good time to visit Nigeria. And all those your countrymen and women in the United States are not helping matters. They are always telling the Americans that their country is a useless place."

"You don't even need to blame those ones. The U.S. has an embassy here. They know what is going on. But it is just that I would have loved Obama to visit Nigeria, Nigerians worked very hard for that man's election."

"Una vote for am?"

"But he has more supporters in Nigeria than in Kenya. People bought Obama stickers and pasted on their cars. There is still an Obama billboard in Abuja. Obama photo portraits are being sold on the streets of Lagos. Musicians sang about him. Even market women campaigned for him. Not to talk of the Obama for Africa associations that tried to raise funds for his campaign. I also know many Nigerians in the U.S. who contributed to the Obama fund. I am even sure that if anybody had said Obama lost that election, bare-chested Nigerian women were ready to go onto the streets in protest. Someone said that was part of the calculations."

"You know you are actually talking about Nigerians who were using the Obama name to do business and make quick profit. By the way what happened to your sister's Obama fund campaign? You mean she and other members of the Obama for Africa movement cannot persuade the U.S. President to come to Nigeria first?"

"Not fair. Obama should have visited Nigeria first. If only to come and say thank you to the Nigerian people. The U.S. Embassy will need to explain why we are being snubbed. We may not know how to organize free and fair elections, but we are a great nation."

"Good people too... Tell them make dem hear."

"I feel sad when I see how Ghana is now upstaging Nigeria in every respect."

"Ghana organizes good elections. And its leaders are better organised and more disciplined. Obama's visit to Ghana is to encourage both the people and government of Ghana to remain the shining Black Star of the West African coast. And a way of telling Nigeria to get its acts together"

"I know".

"Besides, Ghana has discovered oil in commercial quantities. Soon, the United States will buy oil from Ghana and ignore Nigeria and its Niger Delta problems. Also, the U.S. has adopted a new four cardinal-point strategy in Africa. It includes South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Egypt. Nigeria is not quite part of it."

"I hope our leaders are getting the message"

"They won't. Look, let's take a bet. I won't be surprised if in July, Nigerian leaders travel to Ghana to join the Ghanaians in receiving Obama. Can't you see that many Nigerians are now going to Ghana? Nigerian companies are setting up branches in Ghana, there are Nigerian-owned restaurants and shops in Accra, the population of Nigerian students in Ghanaian universities is very high and it keeps increasing. I know Nigerians who have bought homes in Ghana. Every weekend, they just hop across the border. It is 45 minutes by air. Accra is closer to Lagos than Abuja. So really, should we blame the Americans? Even Nigerians prefer to go to Ghana. In fact, I hear that Nigerians in Ghana are lobbying to be part of the Obama reception activities!"

"There will always be shameless Nigerians. But we need to rebuild this country. There were more foreign dignitaries at Jacob Zuma's inauguration than there were at Yar'Adua's inauguration. Countries like Tanzania and Rwanda have better international recognition than Nigeria."

"Don't worry yourself. In fact, if you ask me, I will recommend that President Yar'Adua should ask the Americans and the Ghanaians to invite him to the dinner for President Obama."

"God forbid. We are a sovereign nation."

"I know... I am sure somebody must have told Obama that they kidnap people in Nigeria. And he must have been advised not to put anything past those Niger Delta militants. They could organize and kidnap Obama and his wife. Or throw a shoe at him."

"Kidnap who? Throw a shoe at who?"

"Obama. Didn't somebody throw a shoe at George Bush in Baghdad?"

"Now, I am convinced that you are drunk".

"So why are you disturbing my drink with your sadness about Obama not coming to Nigeria? Okay, let me now play the Devil's advocate. Someone should go and tell that Obama that he does not know what he is missing. He should go and ask President Bill Clinton and President Jimmy Carter. Those are friends of Nigeria. When Clinton visited Nigeria, he enjoyed himself so much. Let Obama go to Ghana. He is free to prefer kenke to nkwobi. We are still the happiest people in the world and we thank God for that."

"Who is talking about happiness?"

"And tell President Yar'Adua not to worry. In fact, who are the Americans to tell us how to organize elections? We are a free country. We have the right to go to heaven the way we choose. President Yar'Adua should also organise a foreign trip. Let him fly over the United States and go to Canada, and from there let him go to Venezuela and Cuba on state visit. America too dey make yanga. Faure Gyassingbe Eyadema of Togo was here on a presidential visit, the same week they announced Obama's African trip. That was Nigeria's response to America's snobbery. Is Eyadema also not a President?"

"The United States is the most powerful country in the world. Who is Faure Eyadema?"

"Who talk so? Where were you when Maurice Iwu said we are in a position to teach America certain things about elections? Every country has its own strengths. Obama can go anywhere. Na him leg he dey take travel. That will not stop me from eating isi ewu... Baby, do you want another drink. Eh, another bottle for my darling here..."

"What's that?"

"I wasn't talking to you."

"Looks like whatever you are doing there is beginning to get to you. May be we should continue this conversation later."

"No. Don't worry. You think I am drunk? Na only bottle fit get drunk. Me, I am a human being. Anything else?"

"I am just sad. We are failing at home. We are losing international goodwill."

"You have said that before. Stop moaning. It's no big deal."

"Our President even wanted to visit the United States, they said no."

"Look, if it is about this Obama visit, forget it. On second thoughts, may be it is even a blessing in disguise. If the man had chosen to visit Nigeria, that would have been an opportunity for Nigerians to loot the treasury. By the time the man leaves, every state treasury will be near-empty. And we could have an Obama visit scandal on our hands. And come to think of it, you know Obama likes to play basketball. Suppose he invites President Yar'Adua while visiting to a game of basketball, one on one, and the man out of politeness agrees. And you know President Yar'Adua doesn't play basketball, he only plays squash. Me, I thank God o."

"Good for the Ghanaians".

"Don't worry, you can watch the visit on AIT, Channels TV etc live."