Richard Ginika Izuora
The International Policy Institute, the Centre for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) has expressed its disappointment with President Muhammadu Buhari’s treatment of the protesters and handling of the EndSARS protests.
This was contained in a joint statement regarding the EndSARS protests issued on Wednesday, November 11, by the director of the Africa Program, CSIS, Judd Devermont, and Matthew T. Page, a fellow with the Centre for Democracy and Development in Nigeria.
According to the statement, “Nigeria had crossed the Rubicon” with respect to the events that happened in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests.
“Like many Nigerians, we expected a swift U.S. condemnation of the massacre, echoing the UK and European calls for the Nigerian government to show restraint and respect Nigerians’ right to peaceful protest.
“But after waiting 48 hours for Washington to issue a short statement condemning the killings, we couldn’t help thinking: has U.S. policy toward Nigeria veered so far off course? And if so, how could an incoming Biden administration get it back on track?” the statement queried.
The CSIS accused the Trump administration of being shambolic in its relationship with Nigeria, calling African nations “shithole countries,”; complaining Nigerian immigrants would never “go back to their huts,” or griping about meeting with Nigeria’s “lifeless” president.
“In 2018, Nigeria’s army used Trump’s own words to justify killing dozens of protestors, shooting some in the back as they fled.
“Meanwhile, the Trump administration has fixated on great power competition and pushing a neo-colonial mercantilist approach to trading and investing in Africa, embodied by Trump’s “I’ve so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich” remark to a group of African leaders.
“It all adds up to a fraying U.S.-Nigeria policy that is inert, ineffective, and lacks a moral compass.”
It also revealed how the USA has repeatedly turned a blind eye to military corruption, abuses, and humanitarian law violations while pushing ahead with controversial arms sales.
“Missing an opportunity to promote reforms, U.S. policymakers have not pre-conditioned arms sales on Nigerian efforts to rein in abuses, compensate victims, and hold perpetrators accountable.
“By glossing over this and other major human rights abuses, U.S. officials have lost sight of a bigger strategic priority: building a strong, values-based relationship with the Nigerian people.”
Regarding the way forward, the CSIS stated “U.S. policy toward Nigeria needs to change. The #EndSARS movement is a sharp reminder that Washington’s focus on core American values—good governance, respect for human rights, and shared prosperity—is slipping.
The Biden administration must be more responsive and skillful in engaging with the Nigerian government, but it also needs to work on rebuilding America’s relationship with the Nigerian people.
“To be more effective than its predecessor, it must own up to past failures and avoid making the same damaging trade-offs Trump has.
“Rather than kowtowing or finger-wagging, U.S. officials should welcome frank conversations with Nigerian government officials in which they articulate what reforms or remediation must happen before bilateral relations progress.
“Instead of repeating past mistakes or turning a blind to repression and corruption, the United States should align with the #EndSARS movement and its call for good governance, democracy, and human rights.”