The interest of the US in Nigeria’s 2019 election

March 11th, 2018

Ahead of his on-going trip to some African states which include Nigeria, this week, the United States of America’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has given an indication of the US interest in the successful conduct of the 2019 general elections in Nigeria, as well as in its outcome. To that extent, Tillerson had announced that the Trump administration would work with Nigeria in the effort to ensure a free and violence-free election, leading to a peaceful transition.
Accordingly, the interest of the United States in the peaceful election in Nigeria is not because it loves us, but it is rather based on the strategic position Nigeria occupies in Africa, nay the world, relative to what the US would be affected on the short and the long run.
Tillerson particularly notes that by 2050, Nigeria would be the world’s third most populous country. It is easy to see that socioeconomic potential which the world’s number one economic power envisions from the present and future of a huge peaceful Nigeria. The United States, no doubt, must have at the back of its mind, the potentials and promises of such a huge market for her goods, services and ways of life. The Trump administration in the United States has continued to insist that her “America first” philosophy is reflected in everything its government does or says. In order words, the declared interest of the United States in the peaceful election and transition of Nigeria is not just for emotional purposes or because Nigeria is practising the US form of democracy.
Rather, the US is interested in Nigeria because of a huge premium for the American state derivable from a peaceful and stable Nigeria. As Nigeria’s foremost economic and trade partners, it goes without saying that the US knows that the only way its investments can be safe would be if violence is averted; and from the volatile situation of things, that would only be possible if the election is conducted in a free and fair manner.
When Tillerson makes allusion to the huge population of Nigeria, some ominous facts spring to mind. In a situation whereby sharp and corrupt practices by politicians lead to a breakdown of law and order, the fallout could give rise to horrendous outcomes. Already, many Doomsday Western observers have pointed out to a possibility of a breakdown of law and order in Nigeria which would result in swathes of millions upon millions of refugees streaming across Nigerian borders into all the cardinal parts of Africa. In the contemplation of such a possibility, the current spectre of the Rohingya refugees streaming into the impoverished Bangladesh must have provided a scary scenario to the US and other big nations of the world.
For apart from the fear of being called upon to save the day over millions of refugees from a destabilized Nigeria that would spill into African countries, the US must have realised that hundreds of thousands of Nigerians are in possession of American visas and that the US would be the first preference for Nigerians fleeing from their burning country.
If the US could suffer losses from a destabilized Nigeria, it is clear that Nigeria and its people will lose all. The current fragile nature of the inter-ethnic and religious relations in the country would make an inconclusive and unfair elections a veritable fuel that would be poured into Nigeria’s smouldering embers.
The AUTHORITY urges Nigerians to look beyond the concerns and interests of the United States and focus on the fact that everybody will emerge scorched or completely burnt out from the huge conflagration that would ensue from a failed election. An overwhelming majority of Nigeria have nowhere else to turn in the event of a major or even minor crises.
To that extent, it behoves on all and sundry, especially our institutions who have crucial roles to play in the success of the election, to gird their loins and ensure that the hopes and aspirations of Nigerians in ensuring that the gains of the peaceful elections of 2015 are sustained and advanced.
Nigerians hardly need the Americans nor anybody for that matter to lecture us on the imperative of free and fair elections in 2019. Tillerson was, indeed, preaching to the already converted.

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