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Don’t ignore our report, US tells Nigeria• Senate says it’s jaundiced, raises committee

Posted by Onyedi Ojiabor, Sam Akpe, Ijendu Iheaka and John Alechenu on 2005/05/27 | Views: 721 |

Don’t ignore our report, US tells Nigeria• Senate says it’s jaundiced, raises committee

The United States on Thursday advised the Federal Government against treating the report prepared for the US National Intelligence Council with kid gloves.

The United States on Thursday advised the Federal Government against treating the report prepared for the US National Intelligence Council with kid gloves.

It said at a news conference in Abuja by the embassy’s Counsellor for Public Affairs, Mrs. Claudia Anyaso, that Nigeria should learn from the ravaging HIV/AIDS pandemic and the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C in 2001.

Anyaso recalled that 20 years before HIV/AIDS became a reality, a professor advised that measures should be taken to checkmate it but policy makers ignored him.

She said, “Not many people were thinking about HIV/AIDS until it was actually here. Now we have a pandemic in Africa on HIV/AIDS.

“The second example, there was a report done several years ago, a report done in the US on national security. It was a Congressional Committee that asked them to do the report. The report specifically looked at national security issues. The report was submitted and kept on the shelves. Nobody really took it seriously until 9/11.”

She said that many of the things contained in the report wanted the Congress and the US government to create homeland security to make the US more secure.

She, however, commended President Olusegun Obasanjo’s response to the letter.

Anyaso said, “Let me say that I commend the Nigerian government, the President in the way he handled this report. I believe that the Senate will be looking into the report. I think that was a mature way of looking at the report. And I hope that they (the Senate) will linger and take it seriously for what it is worth.”

Anyaso described the NIC as a think-tank, a sort of planning group inside the US government, whose reports are given to policy makers to make decisions.

She likened the body to the National Planning Commission in Nigeria.

The US official dismissed insinuations that the report was targeted at Nigeria.

“I think this report is looking at sub-Saharan Africa, not just Nigeria. Looking at trends that may take place in the future. For its worth, you will be the people who will look at the report, agree with the report, disagree with the report and see how some of those trends may be,” she said.

President Olusegun Obasanjo had, in his letter to the legislators, dismissed it as “glib talk.”

The Senate discussed the report on Thursday, describing it as “a product of accomplished terror psychologists.”

They maintained that the unity of Nigeria and the preparedness of the citizenry to chart a progressive path could not be dimmed by spates of conflict and poverty.

At the end of the debate, a six-member committee headed by Senator Jubril Aminu was inaugurated to do a painstaking study of the report, its implications and recommend actions that would forestall any unforeseen events.

Other members of the committee are Senators Victor Ndoma-Egba, Timothy Adudu, Farouk Bello Bunza, Tokunbo Ogunbanjo, and Julius Ucha.

While the Chief whip of the Senate, Mr. Udoma Udo Udoma, said the report could only serve as a wake up call, Tunde Ogbeha said there was little to fear about it.

In his contribution, Mr. Uche Chukwumerije, who commended Obasanjo for reacting swiftly to the report said, “Since 1959, America has forecast the collapse of Cuba under Fidel Castro but it is yet to happen.”

He added, “We should take the report as more of a warning and challenge in disguise; when a witch cries in the night, the living must take steps to ensure that the child does not die in the morning.

“This paper is not from prophets of doom but from accomplished terror psychologists, they are out to cause social self-dehydration, Nigeria is going to become a challenge to the Western World.”

The Deputy President of the Senate, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu, recalled that in 1998 and 2001, the same US Intelligence Council predicted that Nigeria was on the brink of disintegration and that when it collapses, it would be impossible to rise from the ruins.

“The Council even asked how many weeks we thought democracy would last. We dismissed their question with a determination to hold this country together,” he said.

Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora went spiritual when he told the Senate that many were the affliction of Nigeria but “God has always rescued us.”

But Senator David Briggidi advised Nigerians to accept the fact that “we have problems, but the project called Nigeria will not fail if certain things are done.”

Senator Kanti Bello described the report as “just a report” but urged the senators to “tell ourselves the home truth…this report spells doom, it is a prophecy of doom.”

Senator Bode Olowoporoku cited instances in the past where security report regarding collapse of empires and countries had ended up in failure.

He said, “If somebody says your business will not survive, if you are determined, your business will still thrive, the data on Nigeria is damning, it suggests that Nigeria was better than this 40 years ago.

“It is not their fault, it is because we are not doing certain things right. It is now time to sit down and build models of development, we need to sit down and re-appraise ourselves.”

Meanwhile, a former Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Alison Madueke (rtd), has described the release of the report as untimely.

Madueke, in an interview with our correspondent in Umuahia on Thursday said, “I don’t know their motive for releasing such a report but I think it is the most untimely comment about Nigeria at this point in time.

“Whoever put that report together should know that America has the potential for a break up, every country has such potential, and it is unfortunate that Nigeria has to be singled out,” he said.

Also, a former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, said that the report could be proved wrong.

Tsav told our correspondent in Kano, that it was not enough for Nigerian leaders to dismiss the report as a doomsday prediction without taking concrete steps to avert a catastrophe.

“The prediction will fail only if we stop rigging elections, it will fail if our leaders lead in honesty and make justice and fairness to all a priority. We can prove them wrong if we take a collective decision to contribute our quota towards making this country great,” he said.

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Comments (23)

emilia(Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria)says...

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