President Barack Obama has picked Ghana rather than Nigeria for its 1st visit to Africa, in a move obsevers see as an endorsement of Ghana’s stable polity in contrast to Nigeria’s troubled political watersAccording to a report in Guardian newspapers today, THOUGH President Barack Obama is not visiting Nigeria yet, but the country is still an important partner of the United States (U.S.), the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said yesterday at a State Department press conference in Washington DC.
Clinton said President Barack Obama’s preference to visit Ghana in his first call on Africa in July is mainly to indicate to Africans his deep commitment to the continent.
At the 100 days press briefing held by the Obama Administration for the foreign press last month, the question had been raised that the Obama Administration was yet to visit Africa. But on Saturday, the White House announced a first presidential visit to a sub-Saharan African country.
Clinton spoke yesterday in Washington DC at a global press briefing hooked to New York and Rome, which was her first meeting with the foreign press corps to enunciate the new U.S. administration’s diplomatic agenda.
Although the U.S. President will not be visiting Nigeria now, Clinton said the U.S. government would follow up on its commitments to Nigeria, dispelling the notion that Obama’s visit to Ghana ahead of Nigeria is an indication of less commitment to Nigeria. But she warned during the press briefing that America’s diplomacy globally will no longer be limited to government to government, but will now include more and more government to people and people-to-people.
But the U.S. Secretary of State did not counter the view that President Obama was visiting Ghana to highlight good governance in that West African country as the White House press statement had announced on Saturday. Obama in his 4th major trip abroad will be visiting Ghana on July 11 and leaving the next day after a trip to Russia, and Italy among others, including participation at the G-8 meeting in Italy in July.
According to Hillary Clinton, Obama’s choice of Ghana is “meant to tea-up” U.S. relationship with sub-Saharan Africa, and the choice should not be interpreted in any other way.
She stated that “our relationship with Nigeria is an important anchor in Africa, ” disclosing that she has spoken several times with Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister and looks forward to having more of such discussions with the Nigerian government.
But she declared that “Nigeria has a central role to play in its own democratisation and development,” hinting at what many have interpreted to be the Obama Administration’s principled stand against the electoral chaos and Niger Delta crisis in Nigeria.
Secretary Clinton added that Nigeria is also important in regional issues in Africa, but stressed that America’s relationship towards the continent “transcends one country in Africa.”
She added that “President Obama is very focussed on Africa as I am, and I hope to visit Africa later in the year. President Obama is of course going to Ghana to make sure that in the beginning of his administration, he can travel not only to Egypt in Africa, but also another country in sub-Saharan Africa.”