#USAfricaSummit : An Open Letter to President Barack Obama - Ajibola Adigun
As you play host to African heads of states at the US-Africa Summit in Washington, I would like to express my appreciation to the American people. I am much obliged to the taxpayers at whose expense so many of my friends and colleagues have been hosted under the auspices of the Young Africans Leadership Initiative. I hope you will seize the opportunity this summit avails you. I hope you will have the temerity to repeat to President Zuma of South Africa and his cohorts what you told the young Africans you met with last week, that they should look inwards for solutions to Africa's problems.
Please be brave enough to stick to the theme of the summit: investing in the next generation. Own up to the old guard of African leaders how you are not helping matters too with your actions. They learn best by imitation and some of our woes in Africa have been copied from your actions.
President Goodluck Jonathan will ask for your help in combating the menace of Boko Haram in Nigeria. He may broach the topic of a $1 billion loan or even aid supposedly needed to combat terrorism. You must ask him to account for all the previous aid that has gone down the drain in the past. I know America is trying to play catch-up to China, but please know that the best way to endear America in the hearts of the African people is to reiterate the principles that make for a free
continent. They are as important as China's gift of the African Union building.
The announcement of $900 million in new investment is welcome news. However, you must not ignore that none of these leaders have satisfied the Mo Ibrahim requirement for good governance for the fourth time in a row. You must be the voice of reason and avoid encouraging backhand deals that make politicians richer and encourages them to continue stealing with impunity and granting amnesty to their cronies.
The late inclusion of civil society groups and exclusion of human rights organizations from the agenda are ominous signs of the importance (or the lack thereof) that you pay to these concerns. The exclusion of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, Sudan's Al-Bashir, and Eritrea's Isaias Afwerki who are in the same company with Gambia's Yahya Jammeh, Angola's dos Santos, Cameroon's Paul Biya and their ilk that have ignored the rules of constitutional democracies show a Janus-faced approach to these matters. All tyrants are as bad.
As long as you suck up to them, the legitimacy granted them in this PR stunt will be used to curry favour from the Chinese and the Russians. Since there is no love lost between the citizens of Equitorial Guinea, which has one of the worst human rights records in Africa and the fiefdom of Africa's longest serving dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, your invitation allows him room to maneuver.
Another round of pandering to the leaders of these countries in the imitation of the foreign policy of the post-independence era as a new bride courted by everyone will not help anybody. As long as you suck up to them, you allow them room for comparisons. It is hard to ask you to be true to the man you once were when I solicited votes on your behalf in 2008. You once said, and repeatedly too, that "there should be no contradiction between keeping America safe and secure, and respecting our constitution." Sadly, following your lead, civil liberties are being sacrificed on the altar of political expediency here in Africa. We have asked the betrayer to appeal to the wicked. To what end?
It is on this note that the US-Africa leadership summit must be a true meeting of the mind and redemption of the hope that the deliberations yield fruit for the next generation that I end this letter.