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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Nigeria: Eizenstat Speech

Nigeria: Eizenstat Speech
Date distributed (ymd): 990419
Document reposted by APIC

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

Region: West Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+ +US policy focus+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains excerpts from the April 12 speech in Lagos by U.S. Under Secretary of State Stuart Eizenstat, on U.S.-Nigerian relations. A previous posting contains a letter to Nigerian President-elect Olusegun Obasanjo from the New York-based Africa Fund, concerning the need for continued dialogue with pro-democracy and human rights groups on democratization in Nigeria, as well as selected links to other recent documents on the transition to democracy in Nigeria.

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

Eizenstat Outlines Partnership Hopes With Nigeria

April 15, 1999

Lagos - Remarks by U.S. under secretary of state for economic, business and agricultural affairs Stuart Eizenstat
on April 12 in Lagos:

Excerpts only. Full speech available at 19990415_feat11.html [type URL on one line] The speech should also be available later at the State Department web site (, along with other background information on U.S. relations with Nigeria.

This is my first trip to Nigeria, and it's another example of the commitment by this administration to support sound African efforts to build democracy, to grow economically, and [to] develop sustainably.

I am here to make clear that the U.S. understands that this is a critical time for Nigeria. With its recent progress on human rights and economic reform, and with the completion of your elections, Nigeria stands at a crossroads.

There is a potential for Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, to turn the corner on a new chapter in its history, to democratize and reap the untapped economic and social potential of your human and natural resources. We are prepared to work with you to write a new chapter in U.S.-Nigeria relations.

We are ready to stand side by side with you as you forge a new future, one in which you can be an engine of growth and development and an anchor for democracy and stability not only in West Africa, but for the whole continent and indeed a model for the developing world around the globe. With the successful transition from military to elected government on May 29, all sanctions will be removed, and the door will be open for a U.S. partnership.

General Abubakar deserves a great deal of credit for taking important steps in protecting human rights and beginning economic reform. President-elect Obasanjo has shown courage over his lifespan, particularly his years in prison. He is widely respected as the only military leader who ceded power peacefully to a civilian government, and for his enlightened role in Transparency International and other international humanitarian organizations. We look to him to further the remarkable work of General Abubakar and to represent all of Nigeria's people in leading your country out of the darkness of over 15 years of military rule and into the light of democracy.


Your movement away from military rule and toward democracy, along with President Clinton's decision to grant a one-year waiver of your narcotics decertification, now make it possible for the U.S. to begin to engage across the board on many fronts, starting on May 29. We have proposed to the government, to the Vice President-elect, who I met last night, and to the new transition team that I met today that we establish a new U.S.-Nigeria Joint Economic Partnership for Bilateral Growth and Development.

This is a joint commission that, by the way, we do with only a select number of countries around the world -- I don't go to every country. We don't have the resources and time. Literally, there are two handfuls of countries that we have these joint commissions with -- Poland, for example, because of its importance in Central Europe. Egypt, because of its importance in the Middle East. You would be one of a few countries with whom we would do that. We would organize our Departments of State, Transportation, Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, the USAID, and many others to work on a regular basis with your counterparts to support your efforts at prioritizing your development needs.

We will also work to increase participation by our U.S. private sector, which is going to be one of the engines, along with your private sector, for genuine growth. They are already Nigeria's largest foreign investors and number one trading partners, and I had the privilege of meeting with many of those business leaders last night.

With the end of sanctions when the new president is inaugurated, we will do the following:

  • This year alone, we will provide over $30 million in assistance to Nigeria.
  • Our Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will immediately open again for business to provide loans and insurance to help Americans invest in Nigeria through large and small projects. OPIC's programs will help leverage capital and know-how that will be of great value to Nigeria. Nigeria will be able to take advantage of more than $650 million in OPIC equity funds for Africa for infrastructure and other projects. Our Export-Import Bank will begin looking to promoting U.S. exports to Nigeria.
  • Our Trade and Development Agency (TDA) will start undertaking feasibility studies for business-related development projects.
  • Our military will be in a position to begin closer ties with the Nigerian military and to assist in building its capacity to support democracy and stability.
  • And we will work closely with the entire international community and international financial institutions like the World Bank and the IMF and the Asian Development Bank to help support your success.


We also call upon our own enormously talented private business community to maintain the high standards of corporate governance that they have here* and to bring their best global practices with them when they invest in Nigeria. Again, as I mentioned, I met with many of them last night, and they have told me that they will continue to be good corporate citizens, to promote good labor conditions, sustainable environmental practices, and they will continue to invest -- as they have already done so -- in strong local communities. They cannot be surrogate governments, but they can help an effective government do its job even better. But they've also told us that what they need is an environment free of violence and characterized by open and inclusive dialogue among all parties.


Let me tick these off and then go into some detail about each. They fall in basically four areas -- fighting corruption and building the rule of law; privatizing your State-owned enterprises in the right way; being part of an IMF program, which will eventually allow debt rescheduling; and integrating Nigeria with the rest of the region. Let me take each of these.

First, with respect to corruption. Corruption can bleed the public trust. It transfers wealth from the many to the few. It is the enemy of sustainable development. And frankly, corruption has crippled this great nation, and it must be rooted out in every institution of government and in the courts. I have, frankly -- and I wouldn't say this if it were not the case -- been very encouraged in my meetings with President-elect Obasanjo's advisers, with the Vice President-elect, and indeed with the current government that this will be a top priority, and that indeed new institutions will be created to combat it.

This will send an important signal early in the life of this new government to U.S. and foreign investors that there will be a new Nigeria. Corruption, though, is one piece of it. But when we talk about fighting corruption, there is also a positive side to this, and that is creating good governance. Indeed, hand in glove with fighting corruption is creating good governance.


Now governance goes beyond just addressing corruption. It's the whole relationship between government and the private sector. It's creating accountability and transparency and openness. It's creating a legal and judicial system that works. It's assuring that contracts are respected, that there is contract sanctity, that the terms can't arbitrarily be changed in midstream, that when there are disputes, they can be taken to a court and be resolved in a fair-minded way.

This is what good governance means, and it's essential that your newly elected national government go forward with these efforts and end the shamefully wasteful impact that corruption and bad governance has had on the lives of your people. You deserve better, and frankly I believe with the new government, you are going to get it.

We ourselves know that corruption is also not just a one-sided story; it's not just the countries that receive it. We know that we in the West have a responsibility because it is oftentimes our citizens who are giving the bribe. It takes two in this case to tango. And that's why we've taken the lead in the United States since 1977 when I was President Carter's chief domestic adviser, and we drafted the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

It's taken 20 years since then to get other industrial democracies to begin to criminalize their payments of bribery to developing countries for contracts. Now we have it. Just six or eight weeks ago the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention has gone into force and we hope that soon 30 countries -- it's not there yet -- but soon 30 countries in the West and around the industrial world will criminalize the payment of bribes to developing countries. ...

Second is privatization. Privatization is also crucial, and it has to be done in the right way. I know that there are worries about how to privatize critical functions in ways that achieve real and equitable results. Of course it has to be done properly, but the reasons to do it are overwhelming. It will spur change.

It will bring in foreign investment that creates jobs. It will bring world-class management. It will create resources for your treasury that you can reinvest in education and in agriculture and in infrastructure. It will reduce your budget deficits, improve your service delivery, and set the stage for economic expansion.

It will help assure a predictable investment climate, based on the rule of law as a magnet for domestic and foreign investment. And let's see if we can't get some of that $50,000 million in your own capital that has gone out of Nigeria and is waiting for a signal to come back.

One of the things that I've talked about with your new team coming in and your existing team is to try to pick out a few projects that will have an immediate benefit for your people. Things so that they can tangibly see that democracy works for them.

One good example would be getting your four oil refineries, or at least several of the oil refineries, back to work. It's just inexcusable that in a country with one of the largest productions of oil, people have to wait in line for hours for gas. If these refineries can come back, then that will be ended. And electricity grids so we don't have power outages.

Third is engaging in the importance of a discipline of the IMF. If you can go from your current staff-monitored program (SMP) over the next several months to what we call an ESAF [Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility] program, that program will provide resources from the IMF, but equally important it will make you eligible for debt rescheduling through the Paris Club. And you will find if you do so that we will be supportive. The IMF Executive Board has said that it will consider granting Nigeria an Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility once your current reform program is successfully completed.

This ESAF program will provide you access to balance-of-payments support and it will open the critical possibility of debt rescheduling from the Paris Club of creditor nations. We will support you in the Paris Club under these conditions, if you stay the course and reform. And this will help alleviate in the early years of this new government some of the debt burden that you now have.

There are other things that need to be done. I mentioned a fourth area, which is regional development. We want ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] to become a stronger institution to bind this region together. Let me give you an example of what can happen. Right now in the countries of ECOWAS, in which Nigeria, of course, is the largest member, only 10 percent of the total trade of the countries in ECOWAS is among and between those countries. Only 10 percent. Contrast that with Europe, where 60 percent of the trade amongst the countries of the European Union is between themselves. To give you a more pertinent example -- the creation of MERCOSUR in Latin America.

In MERCOSUR, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay joined together a few years ago, and trade among those countries leaped 20 percent a year in the first seven years of its existence in the 1990s. If that happened here, think of the wealth that would be created for all the countries of ECOWAS, and it will happen, if you lower the barriers to your trade.

One important project which can also link this region together is the West African gas pipeline, in which our company, Chevron*, is involved. This would use Nigerian gas for Togo, Benin, and Ghana. There are so many other things that can be done in the short term. ...

All of the things I've talked about are not just coming from the United States. These are consistent with your own Vision 2010. So indeed this is an exciting time. What a wonderful time to be a Nigerian. What a wonderful time to look forward to a bright future. What a wonderful time to build a new democracy.

What a wonderful time to put together a shattered economy. And in that effort I pledge to you that if you will stay the course, we will stay the course. We have faith and confidence in your resourcefulness and in your abilities. We want to work with you as your partners. We want to be and meet you as equals, with equal interests and equal responsibilities. We look forward to seeing Nigeria in the 21st century take its place as a thriving, democratic leader in a region with vigor, creativity, and renewed purpose. And I promise you that as you make that journey, no more will a democratic Nigeria be isolated. You will be part of the global world, and you will be a full partner of the United States. And if you will stay the course, we will stay the course. Thank you very much.

APIC note: Four members of Congress are requesting an investigation of Chevron's involvement with human rights abuses in Nigeria. For more information see the postings in the shell-nigeria-action listserv:

Letter from Reps. Kucinich, McKinney, Payne and Waters, March

Call for action by Essential Action, March

Article in Village Voice (April 1, 1999)

See also the Human Rights Watch (Africa) report on the involvement of international oil companies in Nigeria. For the full 200-page report, see the HRW web site ( For a press release and summary see the Africa Policy web site (

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.

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