US President-elect, Joe Biden may have his domestic worries but Nigerian NGO – Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) – while congratulating him and his Vice-President-elect on winning the November 3rd, 2020 presidential poll also has a task for him.
Declaring the outcome of the election as “the progressive change that reflects the aspirations and desires of the people of United States as well as high anticipation of the international community for the US leadership in pressing global matters”, CISLAC called on the President-elect to privilege Nigeria in his foreign policy by paying more attention to ensuring accountability and good governance in Nigeria.CISLAC said this is because further deterioration of the socio-economic situation would have negative repercussions for the global security, including the United States of America.
While looking forward to working with the President’s-elect administration as the US support has been instrumental in advancing CISLAC’s goals in the past, the statement by Mallam Auwal Ibrahim Musa aka Rafsanjani, Executive Director, CISLAC & Head of Transparency International Nigeria is at the same time arguing for making Nigeria-US bilateral trade to benefit Nigerian society. According to CISLAC, this is because strengthening of the Nigeria-United States bilateral relationship through trade, investment and transfer of know-how remains paramount to mitigate the fast-growing unemployment challenges and boost industrialisation with youth employment opportunities.
Lamenting how trade relationships with developed countries have sadly deepened the economic inequality in Nigeria, the statement, however, expresses belief that trade could serve as a catalyst for economic and human development if conducted in equity and fairness. Stretching the argument, CISLAC says it is in the interest of the United States that bilateral trade benefits all segments of the Nigerian society by contributing to poverty reduction in a country with over half of the 200 million population live in abject poverty while just over 50 thousand of Nigerians enjoy immense wealth of at least 1 million USD in assets.
Also included in the shopping list covered in the congratulatory message is formulating and implementing what it calls a coherent policy to address the lingering insecurity in Nigeria. The NGO is arguing that every Nigerian could witness the impact and consequences of the generalised insecurity kidnapping for ransoms, rural banditry, attacks by insurgents and wide socio-economic dissatisfaction. Citing recent public riots across Nigeria, CISLAC says the breakdown of the law and order happened in spite of the immense wealth from natural resources of Nigeria. It, therefore, feels the importance of drawing the attention of the President-elect to what it calls the systemic corruption that has eaten deep into Nigeria’s public sphere including unaccounted asset recovery and normalised money laundering. “It is estimated that the cost of corruption in Nigeria runs as high as 30% of the country’s GDP”, CISLAC pointed out, adding the downside of the Nigerian Government claiming recovery of assets worth billions of dollars but without proper accountability on the management and utilization of the assets as to prevent re-looting.
CISLAC is also imploring the US and the international community to contribute to strengthening electoral reform beyond Smart Card Reader innovation; expand shrinking civil society space; work against what it calls unchecked pocket-serving ethno-religion politics in Nigeria including recurring but divisive and unhealthy separatist agitations.
CISLAC finally reiterated its earlier position against imposing sanctions on Nigeria, saying such would be counter-productive and harm the poor.