President Goodluck Jonathan has told the gathering of World leaders at te G8 summit that the Nigeria is now stable and ready to play a leading role in global affairs.
Jonathan who was in Canada as one of seven African leaders invited for an outreach session between G-8 leaders and African heads of state, spoke on the sideline of the summit in an interview with the The Globe and Mail newspaper of Canada.
The President said the recent transfer of power in the country – after a constitutional crisis – “to a man from a different language and religious background,” was proof that Nigeria is stable.
“That should tell the world that politically, Nigeria is stable. From 1999, when the last military head of state handed over to the civilian government, Nigeria has been stable.
“Nigeria is struggling. Every country has issues. If the purpose of these multilateral organisations is to improve the quality of life of society generally, then of course Nigeria is a good candidate for it,” Jonathan said.
Speaking on the new G-20 economic block just formed, which has brought more of the world into the club that steers global economic policies, Jonathan said the emerging group must better represent Africa.
He argued that the G-20 would need greater representation from the continent if it wants to chart a better common course for the global economy.
Africa, a continent of about one billion people, has only one G-20 representative: South Africa.
“It’s not just an issue of fairness but common interest. Just as the old G8 club needs to expand to include rising economic powers, the new G-20 must find a place to encourage the next wave of markets they will need in Africa.”
He continued: “Africa should have a place in the G-20 to press policies that will help it produce, rather than have it beg for assistance. And other nations should see Africa’s potential for their economies.
“For the developed side to develop, they need the developing countries. If you manufacture and there’s nobody to buy, you cannot sell. Nigeria has over 150 million people. So, even for economic reasons, you need to encourage them.”
Jonathan also urged G-8 leaders to deliver on their pledges to Africa such as the one made in Scotland in 2005 to double aid to Africa: “They promised $25-billion, but so far just about $11 billion has been given. And that’s one of the areas we can mention to them – if they can give this. Canada has done very well. They have met their commitment. But others have not.”
He said African countries were invited to the G-8 summit out of recognition that they needed to be encouraged, “and a substantive place in the G-20 will give them a chance to press that case in wider economic talks, such as liberalising trade rules to reduce barriers that discourage African agricultural exports.
“As long as we are not encouraged to export our produce, then we will continue to be begging,” he said.
Jonathan, who is scheduled to speak to the G-8 summit on its Millennium Development Goals, told journalists he would raise his concerns with world leaders, calling arms proliferation “one of the things that disturb me most.”
“I have said it severally that we don’t manufacture these small arms and light weapons. They are manufactured by the developed societies but dumped in Africa and they have become a major source of our own underdevelopment,” Jonathan said.
“That tells you that in a place where you don’t have peace, you can’t have economic activities that can stimulate wealth creation,” Jonathan said.
He linked the spread of such weapons to political instability as well.
“That is why you see a lot of military organisations struggling to topple governments in Africa. Where the governments are relatively stable, they use them (weapons) for criminal activities like piracy, trans-border crimes, armed robberies, and causing general insecurity, and even kidnappings.
“If these things are allowed to continue, then of course, economic development of the African continent will continue to recede instead of advancing,” Jonathan said.