Sunday, January 03, 2010

Princeton Lyman on Nigeria

At the recent Achebe Colloquium at Brown University, the former US Ambassador to Nigeria argues that Nigeria's strategic importance has been overplayed and is not really helpful for Nigerians.


Anonymous,  7:35 pm  

There is A LOT of truth in what he is saying but its always easy to look from the outside,although he is in a very good position to point out these faults. Nigerias history plays such an important part in the problems we face today.

The problems are glaring but they have been for over three decades now. It still hasnt stopped us from being the greatest african country no matter what, regardless of any negativity a lot of positivity has come out of Nigeria. We contribute immensely to the world economy.

But a change can make Nigeria even greater than what it is. Good leadership, development of other sectors e.t.c

essay finished. :)

Anonymous,  9:38 am  

Mr. Lyman undermines his own thesis by principally examining Nigeria's strategic importance through the prism of its relevance as an oil and gas supplier to the West, even though he claims not to.

Anonymous,  9:55 am  

Princeton Lyman touched on several truths that we Nigerians ourselves continually rehash, but I agree that his definition of a country's "relevance" is largely limited to such country's relevance to the US (and the West), which is naturally to be expected from someone who has spent most of his productive life promoting US interests.

Unfortunately, it misses the reality that Nigeria's greatest "strategic importance and relevance" is actually inwards: firstly, to Nigerians (and the potentially huge economic engine and market that they constitute) and then to West Africa and Africa.

And of course, he seemingly fails to grasp that China (the globally nascent economic, military and political powerhouse) certainly does not think that Nigeria is strategically (or, more precisely, economically) irrelevant.

Gotti22 10:41 am  

Thanks to Dr. Lyman for snapping our collective focus back to attention. However, much of this same Washington crowd were predicting not that long ago that China would remain an economic basketcase, that Brazil would sink on the weight of its debts and corruption, and that India was essentially a lost cause, among others.

At the end of the day, nothing has really changed with regards to Nigeria -- it's future and its fate still resides primarily in the collective actions (of commission and/or omission) of Nigerians themselves, not upon its so-called strategic importance to others. But we nonetheless should thank our friends for being honest with us and hopefully keeping us focused

Anonymous,  11:41 am  

Does Princeton Lyman actually understand what the concept of a "regional power" denotes? Sadly, American concepts of power is still firmly embedded upon military power.

Nigeria's strategic importance lies thankfully not in its ability to impose a military solution in Darfur and Niger, but in the fact that it supplies a large part of Niger's electricity capacity, that it provides secure oil supplies to several African countries on very generous terms, that it will supply most of the gas requirements for several West African countries (even Ghana, despite its recent discoveries), that two projects that will control much of African broadband and data transmission capacity are of Nigerian origin (Glo-1 and Main One), that Oando will play a prominent role in the development of Ghana's gas reserves, that Nigerian banks are among the biggest providers of credit in Ghana and are the biggest in the Gambia, and that Nigerian banks partially financed Cote D'Ivoire's telecommunications expansion, and such banks now provide significant employment and credit across the continent, that several African countries still rely on Nigeria for professional in health, education and other sectors (formally through TACs and informally), that Dangote's continent-wide expansion would make it the leading cement producer in the sub-region, or that Nigeria with all its acknowledged problems has still managed to become the second biggest economy in the continent and likely to become the biggest in the very near future.

It is such integration of economic interests which makes Nigeria a regional power of strategic importance, not whether it is supplying more oil to the US and defending its militarily defending its interests as an effective surrogate in Africa.

CodLiverOil 11:20 am  

This is a man, who has an external perspective, one who has moved in spheres of influence and power for sometime (at least 25 years).

I do not think that Mr Lyman feels threatened by Nigeria, he is not saying what he is saying to put the country down. I fail to see why people are getting defensive about this.

There are those who say blackman can't do anything. Many of them reside in South Africa (as well as in other parts of the world). They say blackman left to his own devices can do nothing. The way Nigeria is going is proving them right.

To all those who have not noticed, the nation is in decline. People say Nigeria is too big to fail. Excuse me wasn't the Soviet Union many times bigger, with more resources - did they not fail too? So size is no protection to disintegration.

Some people say the West is not so important. The West maybe in decline (but it is not rapid). All the new major players like China, Brazil, India, Indonesia and South Korea etc, the West played a key part ie the principal target of their exports. The source of new technology etc.

So to hear people say that the fact that Nigeria can expand into Ghana, Gambia or elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa. The size of these markets is dwarfed by those of the West. If one has to choose then the West would seem a better place to target your exports, as the rewards are greater, but there is no need to choose. I'm simply saying it would be unwise to exclude the West. I never heard of Brazil, ignoring the Western markets in preference to trade with the likes of Haiti, Dominican Republic or Ecuador (no disrespect intended to those countries).

It is better to have a friend that can tell you the truth, than those who deceive you into thinking you are more powerful than you really are. Should the country fail, people will say, why did no one warn us? This is such a warning and you have seen the response...

All people in Nigeria can talk about is oil, Mr Lyman has pointed out the reliance Western countries had on Nigeria for oil is fast diminishing. Most of West Africa (Ghana, Cameroun, Niger, Cote D'Ivoire, etc) and now other parts of Africa are discovering oil or , or are prospecting for oil. Uganda has struck oil, South Sudan has oil, it is rumoured that Somalia has oil. That is just in Africa, you've seen the strides Brazil has made. Now alternative sources of energy(renewable and nuclear) are increasingly coming to the fore, one had better read the signs and wake up, or continue sleeping and reap the consequences.

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