Monday, November 10, 2014

Letter to American Ambassador to Nigeria


Dear Mr. Ambassador, I would have loved to write this letter to you in pidgin, and on my company’s letter head and mail it to your embassy. The reason I wanted to write it in pidgin is that I know you understand and speak this lingua franca of ours – and to that extent you would better understood me if I say that your over sabi for my country don dey too much. However, I have decided to use the language that you and I and others who don’t easily pidgin to write this letter to you. The issues that I want to address are already in the public domain, and for which you have spoken extensively.

Mr. Ambassador Sir, a lot of us Nigerians are worried at your unnecessary interference in the internal affairs of this country, and how you carry on as if Nigeria is a vassal of your country. We are not. Therefore, why you used to dish out very damaging press statements concerning this country, I cannot understand. I cannot also understand our country’s unnecessary love and fear for yours. In some time past, I remember that it had to take the governor of Lagos state, Babatunde Fashola, to chide you for mentioning that a prominent hotel in Lagos was going to be bombed, and that chiding was what I presume made you rescind from further making those inflammatory and apocalyptic statements about Nigeria. If you know that some terrorists were going to attack a hotel or any public facility, why would you be running your mouth publicly instead of collaborating with the government to nip that attack in the bud? That was the question the governor asked of you, and from that point on, I have not heard you via your embassy make these inflammatory statements that cast a shadow on my country, as if there are no bad people in your country who have bombed hotels and public buildings. Some of us were even wondering Mr. Ambassador, that if you are that good, and have a knack for busting plans by terrorists who want to bomb public buildings, why you do not take preemptive  steps to prevent them before they happen. Why didn’t you bust the Boston bombers before they struck?

Mr. Ambassador, you also carry on as if yours is a perfect nation, and that we are very inferior human beings to be taught a bitter lesson for deigning to govern ourselves the way we want. Look at how you scorned and ignored us to our advantage when one of yours imported the Ebola Virus to Lagos, Nigeria. In spite of repeated appeals to your country for help with your so-called Z-Map ‘experimental’ vaccine, you brazenly turned us down. We pocketed this insult and managed to carry on without you, to the extent that when a similar incident took place in your country, your people administered antibiotics instead of your world famous Z-Map. Your people are running here and there now seeking to learn from this country you left in the lurch. Again imagine how your country treated us over the gay bill passed by our country’s National Assembly. Your president, Mr. Know-it-all-Obama, went to town casting aspersions on us and breathing down our necks that we must repeal that law. As an individual, I have not supported a law that discriminates against a person on the basis of their sex. If you, like me, do not like the law, the best is for you to express your opinion and let well alone. Nigerians are not Americans and Americans are not Nigerians. We are a peculiar people with our peculiar laws, traditions, morality and religious orientation under several notions of God. If we decide that an American culture like man-doing-man or woman-doing-woman is anathema to us, you cannot on the basis of that begin to collude with other countries in Africa to undermine our national integrity.

The area in which we know that you have been covertly working against the interest of this country is with that arms deal, said to be for the prosecution of the war with Boko Haram. My country wanted to buy from yours but still smarting that we did not repeal our gay laws, and that we did not open our military cum strategic secrets to you, you refused to sell to us. Your argument is that you cannot sell to us because you do not trust our military not to resell those arms to the terrorists. Mr. Ambassador, we are not fools – nearly 99% of all the arms being manufactured and used in wars and in trouble spots the world over are British, American, Russian or European. The manufacturers of arms are in it for the money and not for the morality. And I put it to you sir that a lot of American, British and Russian arms are in the hands of the ISIS terrorists, in Afghanistan and Yemen and it is your government that sells those arms to them. So your argument for not selling arms to us, and colluding with a brother African state to block a legitimate or illegitimate arms transaction is a knife that strikes deep at the heart of what you claim your country stands for – liberty, equality and the rule of law. It is also an insult – no different from the many insults that Nigerians have been pocketing from brother African nations over the years. Listen, if you’re not selling you are not selling, so step aside. You have decided not to buy our oil as well but there are countries like China, the largest economy in the world willing to do so.


Mr. Ambassador let me remind you again – Nigeria is not your vassal. Nigeria’s problems can be solved by Nigerians and not by a self-appointed police. That we borrowed from your constitution and your system of governance does not mean that we must be like you. Nigeria has its own stamps, rickety buses, and its own financial system. So does the US. But has there been any instance where we have criticized your own laws, culture, traditions, food and drink, and declared them unfit for Americans and therefore to be the basis for our relationship with you? No we have not. That’s not the Nigerian way. But if you tell us that a lot of your actions are predicated on the protection of your vital interests and investments, perhaps we would take a listen and perhaps understand why you are covertly undermining my country. But the United States and its government being represented here by you in Nigeria is getting unnecessarily meddlesome and too visible in our internal affairs. We hardly see the ambassadors of China, Russia or that of Australia or the UK strut from one Nigerian market square to the other the way you do, yet they seem more diplomatic and keener to maintain relevant and productive ties with Nigeria.



Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku is author of Mamud & the Moringa Tree & editor in chief of Bob MajiriOghene Communications, Abuja.