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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

USA: Nigeria Policy, Letters

USA: Nigeria Policy, Letters
Date distributed (ymd): 000822
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: West Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+ +security/peace+ +US policy focus+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains two letters to President Clinton on policy toward Nigeria. One focuses on a range of issues and is from groups that are members of the Washington-based International Roundtable on Nigeria (IRTON) and Advocacy Network for Africa (ADNA). The other focuses specifically on the Niger Delta, signed by groups around the world associated with the Delta, as well as individuals and other groups.

Two related postings yesterday included a statement from the Africa Fund and the Africa Policy Information Center, and excerpts from the new book on Nigeria: This House Has Fallen.

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

August 21, 2000
President William Jefferson Clinton
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington DC

Dear Mr. President:

As members of the International Roundtable on Nigeria (IRTON) and the Advocacy Network for Africa (ADNA), coalitions of educational, advocacy, environmental, faith-based, labor and human rights organizations, we write to express appreciation for your decision to visit Nigeria this month.

Your choice of Nigeria is particularly important at this time. The incredible sacrifices of the Nigerian people over the last seven years have made it possible for the country to move toward the establishment of a more open, just and democratic society. Their courage and efforts should be noted and applauded, and we hope you will do so publicly throughout your visit.

Moreover, Nigeria's significance to West Africa and the entire continent cannot be underestimated. Nigeria can be a source of encouragement or discouragement for the rest of the continent. How Nigeria brings peace and stability to its own country is one important example. Your visit offers a rare opportunity to highlight positive developments in Africa and to reaffirm the support of the people and government of the United States for the people of all of Africa in meeting those challenges and issues which still remain

We understand that your visit will be short. Nevertheless, we hope that you will be able to address some very critical national, regional, and continent-wide issues where the United States can and should help. Our recommendations are listed below and expanded upon in enclosed background materials.

U.S./Nigeria Bilateral Relations

Nigeria today enjoys an elected civilian government. Both the administration of President Obasanjo and the newly elected legislators and governors have shown a welcome commitment to reestablishing the rule of law, respect for human rights and
official accountability, and a new priority for alleviating poverty.

Your recent reception of President Obasanjo and your reciprocal visit to Nigeria underscore Nigeria's movement from a pariah state to a partner state and welcome re-entry into the international community. However, much more needs to be done. Nigeria's transition faces many challenges and threats. We believe the following should be the top U.S. priorities:

Supporting Democratization, Human Rights and the return to the Rule of Law

  • Increased diplomatic and financial support for human rights work and the strengthening of state institutions such as the Oputa Panel and the National Human Rights Commission to complete their work.
  • Strong encouragement for the Nigerian government at all levels and civil society throughout the country regarding the importance of working together to ensure the success of the transition.
  • Urgent emphasis of the necessity of a transparent independent monitoring system of police and security forces, including investigations into all allegations of human rights abuses and reports or excessive use of violence by security forces.
  • Support for verifiable accountability of military, police, and all participants in U.S. training programs, to ensure that they have not committed human rights abuses in the past, and are monitored with follow-up programs after they have been trained.
  • Increased priority and expanded assistance to the Nigerian judicial system through the U.S. State Department Rule of Law program, especially to; a) Re-emphasize the importance of a sound legitimate National Constitution that represents the will of the Nigerian people, b) Appeal to the Nigerian people to address issues of religious tolerance and belief sensitively, fairly, and non-violently, and, c) Commit vigorous U.S. support of Nigerian efforts to reform the criminal justice and penal system.

Corporate Accountability and the Crisis in the Niger Delta:

  • Urge the Obasanjo administration and U.S. corporations to ensure transparency and adherence to the rule of law in bringing lasting peace to the Niger Delta, including investigating human rights and environmental violations.

Only an open and transparent accounting of the past, as well as the transparent enforcement of the rule of law in the present will help bring lasting peace to the Niger Delta region. Oil corporations as well must submit to a full investigation into commission of or complicity in the commission of human rights and environmental violations. Additionally they must play a role in consolidating stability, democracy and the rule of law by ensuring that their activities do not contribute to further human rights or environmental abuses. We urge you to encourage U.S. corporations in Nigeria in particular to recognize that and to ensure transparency in all their transactions in Nigeria.

Nigeria's democratic leadership throughout the region is contingent on its willingness to protect minorities and resolve the refugee crisis emanating from its own recent history. This is particularly so for the thousands of refugees from the Ogoni and other minority communities of the Niger Delta who fled from violence during the Abacha regime.

U.S. Economic Policy regarding Nigeria

  • Cancel Nigeria's bilateral debt to the U.S. We are concerned about this administration's approach to debt cancellation for Nigeria. We urge swift implementation of steps to cancel Nigeria's bilateral debt to the U.S., and strong U.S. leadership for multilateral debt cancellation without onerous conditionalities which undermine democracy and/or genuine development.
  • Provide strong U.S. leadership to secure multilateral debt cancellation without onerous and counterproductive conditionalities which undermine democracy and/or genuine development.
  • Increase diplomatic and financial assistance to Nigeria in recovering its looted assets. Based on the critical role your Administration played in the successful recovery of assets stolen by the Nazis, we call for vigorous U.S. leadership in helping Nigeria recover it looted assets.

Returning the use of these two essential resources - debt payments and looted assets - to the Nigerian government to use to strengthen its capacity to eradicate poverty is a prerequisite to successful economic development and the entrenchment of a stable democracy which serves Nigeria's peoples.

  • Assure Nigeria that the U.S. is interested in authentic trade partnerships with African countries - fair trade, not simply free trade - and will support the following: a) respect for the rights of African countries to define their own economic agenda and priorities; b) respect for local business initiatives rather than imposition of a U.S. economic agenda that would be harmful to Nigeria's internal economic diversification or development; and, c) respect for successful traditional African practices regarding life forms rather than the application of intellectual property rights claims by external entities.

Regional Issues


We welcome the decision to strengthen the regional peacekeeping capacity in particular for Sierra Leone, and reiterate that such assistance must be predicated on improving respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. Further, we urge the U.S. and Nigeria to help clarify and strengthen the mandate of the United Nations Mission to Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). In addition, we urge you to call for Nigerian support of the recently approved International Criminal Court (ICC) for Sierra Leone, and aggressive enforcement of embargoes on conflict diamonds and small arms trade as essential requirements for bringing peace and stability back to West Africa.

While the ICC for Sierra Leone may help bring an end to impunity, and the strengthened peacekeeping capacity may begin to deter the RUF from continuing its violent campaign against the civilian population of Sierra Leone, it remains unclear what your Administration's long-term U.S. political policy or strategy is regarding peace and democracy, and reconstruction and development in the region. This trip would be an opportune time to announce a more comprehensive approach that goes beyond the current military strategy.

HIV/AIDS and Health Infrastructure

The most important continent-wide challenge facing Africa is the devastating AIDS pandemic. This and other poverty related health problems must be dealt with in unison rather than in competition with one another.

  • Dedicate a modest 5% of the annual U.S. budget surplus to a global health emergency fund to assist in HIV/AIDS epidemic response and health infrastructure expansion.

A massive infusion of funds is needed immediately, not only for education and prevention, but also for treatment and for restoration of basic health services that can deliver both disease prevention and care. In this context, the recent U.S. proposal to lend Africa $1 billion a year at commercial rates is a cruel hoax at best and a vivid example of government-subsidized corporate greed at worst.

Today multiple strategies to fight the epidemic are available, and can make a dramatic difference even in the worst-affected countries. Why not take the opportunity of your visit to Nigeria to call for dedicating a modest 5 percent of the annual U.S. budget surplus -- approximately $9.5 billion this year -- to a global health emergency fund? This would send a signal in favor of global responsibility rather than reinforcing the perception of globalization as only an opportunity for corporate profit.

We look forward to your response and working together on these critical issues.


Advocacy Network for Africa
Ezekiel Pajibo, Facilitator
c/o AFJN
3015 Fourth St. NE
Washington, DC 20017

Africa Faith and Justice Network
Larry Goodwin, Executive Director

Africa Fund
Salih Booker, Executive Director

Africa Policy Information Center
Cherri Waters, President

African Gender Network Organization
Egondu Onyejekwe, Coordinator

Career Resources Network
David Kosoko, Director

Center for International Policy
Clarissa Kayosa, Demilitarization for Democracy Project

Coalition for Democracy in Sierra Leone
Dr. Ritchard M'bayo, Chairman

Comboni Missionaries
Paul Donohue, Director of Communications

Global Alliance for Africa
Thomas Derdak, Executive Director

International Student Organization, Coppin State College Dr. Fellina Nwadike, Advisor

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Kathleen McNeely, Program Associate

National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America Frederic Coker, Vice-Chair

Society of African Missions Office of Justice, Peace and Environmental Care
Stephen G. Price, Director

Society of St. Ursula, Africa Liaison
Maureen Healy

Randall Robinson, President

United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society Jaydee Hanson, Assistant General Secretary

United Methodist Women Office of Public Policy
Susie Johnson, Director

Washington Office on Africa
Leon P. Spencer, Executive Director

Washington State Africa Network
David Mozer, Chairman

Women's International League for
Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section
Phyllis S. Yingling, Chair

World Relief
Ami P. Henson, National Advocacy Director

Concerned Individuals Write President Clinton about the Niger Delta 08/02/00


Shell-nigeria-action mailing list

President William Jefferson Clinton
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Clinton:

Your Visit and Repression in Nigeria

In August 2000 you will be visiting Nigeria, one of the most economically and strategically important countries in Africa. Nigeria exports fifty percent of the oil extracted from the Niger Delta to the United States of America, amounting to one-twelfth of the US oil consumption. No doubt the two countries are important to each other, and you intend to raise issues of trade and debt relief with the Nigerian government.

We were informed that your administration intends to use this visit to seal an agreement of military cooperation between the United States and Nigeria. We are however concerned and would like to alert you that a major thrust of this agreement will be the training of the Nigerian military for operations in the Niger Delta. These operations intended to violently suppress the stout resolve of the people to control their God-given natural resources. We are further concerned that there are no guarantees that US military aid will not inadvertently be used to fuel the already volatile situation in the Niger Delta. We would like to believe that the policy of the US government in Nigeria is not one of ensuring the unhindered flow of oil to the US at any cost to the local population.

We appeal to you to use the opportunity of your visit to Nigeria to condemn the activities of the Nigerian armed forces in the Niger Delta; in particular the destruction of Odi community in Bayelsa State. Your silence on this issue will only be sending a dangerous signal approving the Gestapo policies of General Obasanjo's government in the Niger-Delta. As you wine and dine with your host General Obasanjo, he continues to supervise the murderous activities of Nigerian security forces in the Niger-Delta. This is intended to subdue the peaceful demands of the people for a better environment and self-determination.

We commend your strenuous personal effort in seeking a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. We appeal to you to show the same vigor and dynamism in addressing the Niger Delta crisis. Far from what the official Nigerian script to you may be; the stark reality is that you are visiting a nation on the path of an impending violent internal implosion -- one that will negatively impact the entire African continent. However, this dark scenario can be averted by the convocation of a conference of freely elected representatives of the different ethnic nationalities. This is to engage in dialogue, and agree on the modalities of continued co-existence within Nigeria. The current political atmosphere as currently being fostered by your host is the signpost for the eventual violent disintegration of Nigeria.

Following the footsteps of President Carter, and even your own special envoys, including Rev. Jesse Jackson; we urge you to use the opportunity of your visit to Nigeria, to visit and sit with the Niger Delta people in order to have a deeper understanding of the issues that drive the people in their quest for change. This will be consistent with your administration's avowed commitment to putting people above special interests.

The integrity of your administration is at stake on this issue, as Americans and the world will be watching this test of the level of commitment of your administration to human rights and democracy. We ask you not to miss this historic opportunity to influence positive democratic change in Nigeria and to avert the possible breakdown of civil society as a result of current inequities.

Yours truly,


Agbere Community Association of Great Britain and Ireland Bayelsa Center USA
Bonny Indigenous Group (BIG), Niger Delta
Canadian Voice of Women Youth Circle
Christians in Action, Kirksville, MO, USA
Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) Rivers/Bayelsa States Branch Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) South-South Zone, Niger Delta Coalition of Petroleum Producing States of Nigeria (COPPSON), Inc. Communities for a Better Environment
Community Initiative Project, Ghana
Delta State Peoples Forum
Egi Ethnic Coalition,
Emu Community Association of Great Britain
Global Youth Connect
Ibom Peoples Congress
Ijaw Association of Greater Kansas City
Ijaw Council for Human Rights
Ijaw National Congress USA
Ijaw Peoples Association of Great Britain and Ireland Ijaw Relief Foundation UK
Ijaw Youth Council
Ilaje Youth Movement
Isoko Ethnic Minority Rights & Environmental Protection Council Kansas, Kansas City-Yenegoa Sister Cities Committee, USA Mangrove Action Project
Minority Rights Protection Council, Nigeria
Missouri, Kansas City-Port Harcourt Sister Cities Committee, USA MOSOP IN THE AMERICAS
Movement for Reparations to Ogbia (MORETO), Niger Delta National Union of Ogoni Students (INT'L), USA
Niger Delta Peace and Development Coalition
Niger Delta Peace Project
Niger Delta Women for Justice
Nigerian Institute of Human Rights
Nova Southeastern University - School of Social and Systemic Studies
Odoni Development Association UK
Oilwatch International, Quito, Ecuador
Our Niger Delta
Pan African Youth Movement (PAYM)
PEACE Incorporated
Print World, 81/3, North Malaka, Allahabad, India Rivers/Bayelsa Union of South Florida
SAMFU Foundation
Society for Awareness and Growth in Etche (SAGE)
Third World Social Services
Urhobo Ethnic Minority Rights Protection Council, Niger Delta Women in Nigeria (WIN), Rivers/Bayelsa States Branch Youth Organization of Bhutan, USA

plus over 200 individual signatories

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC provides accessible information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.

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