The U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has described the situation in Nigeria as heartbreaking. Mrs. Clinton gave this description recently while speaking at the Corporate Council on Africa's Seventh Biennial U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Washington. Mrs Clinton said "There is no doubt that when one looks at Nigeria, it is such a heartbreaking scene we see. The number of people living in Nigeria is going up. The number of people facing food security and health challenges are going up... because the revenues have not been well managed."
Speaking about her meeting with leaders in Nigeria, Mrs Clinton said she had stressed "commitment to partnering with Nigeria in areas such as electoral reform, anti-corruption activities, better stewardship of oil revenues, and efforts to build a more diversified economy, as well as the resolution of the conflict in the Niger Delta." On the Obama Administration's strategies to help spur economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Secretary of State said "We are eager to move beyond stereotypes that paint Africa as a land of poverty, disease, conflict, and not much else. And we will continue to lay a strong foundation for a new kind of engagement with Africa, one that is built on shared responsibility and shared opportunity, and on partnerships that produce measurable, lasting results,"
Mrs Clinton went on to say, "From our perspective, for too long, Africa has been viewed as a charity case instead of a dynamic continent capable of becoming a global economic engine of the 21st century. So it is time to change the narrative. We will focus on country-led plans and market-based investments in areas like food security, infrastructure, and women. We will focus on metrics and accountability, on nations eager to attack corruption and promote good governance"
On the need for responsible African leadership on whose shoulders the ultimate responsibility for the success of the Obama Administration's 'big agenda' rests Mrs Clinton said, "We have to acknowledge that none of this can happen without responsible African leadership, without good government and transparency and accountability, without acceptable rule of law, without environmental stewardship and the effective management of resources, without respect for human rights, without an end to corruption as a cancer that eats away at the entrepreneurial spirits and hopes of millions of people."
To read the text of the complete speech click here.
I am hopeful that all of this is not mere rhetoric of the kind that we have been hearing in Africa for decades. I wish to be optimistic, but since the Obama Administration has stated clearly that the success of its positive agenda for Africa relies entirely on African leaders being responsible leaders, I can only be as optimistic as my realism allows. And going by the record of most of Africa's leaders, I cannot be as optimistic as I really would like to be..