Bassey Inyang in Calabar and Solomon Elusoji in Lagos
Nigerian leaders suspected of corruption may soon find themselves shut out of the United States after a special report from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) urged President Donald Trump administration to “revoke the US visas of political figures suspected (not necessarily proven) of kleptocracy.”
The CFR is a US think-tank which specialises in foreign policy and international affairs, and its reports help shape America’s foreign policy decisions.
The special report was co-written by John Campbell, the Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the CFR and an expert on Nigeria, having served as a US ambassador to Nigeria from 2004 to 2007.
Titled: ‘How the Trump Administration Can Help Combat Kleptocracy in Africa’, the report noted that “Nigerian kleptocracy has deep, pre-colonial roots, and successive regimes and administrations have used it as an instrument of political control.”
Campbell and his co-writer, Allen Grane, believe that banning suspected corrupt leaders from the US could be an effective measure to discourage corruption.
“This report surfaces in the middle of a stormy unravelling of corruption in Nigeria; billions of naira have been recovered from living apartments and septic tanks by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in recent weeks. In one prominent case, on April 12, the EFCC announced that it had found $43.4 million stashed in a vacant apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos. The cash was in US dollars, British pounds, and Nigerian naira. The original owners are yet to be ascertained, although names have been flying around.
“The individuals involved in this episode might be a place to start,” Campbell said.
Meanwhile, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, has tasked Nigerians to take responsibility for the socio-economic development and growth of the country.
The US envoy gave the task yesterday at the Drill Ranch in Calabar, Cross River State, where he joined other stakeholders in celebrating this year’s US Mission’s Earth Day event, dwelling on the need for bio-diversity conservation, especially the protection an preservation of the drill monkey and chimpanzees in the Cross River Rain Forest that have become endangered species.
Emphasising the importance of tourism derived from the preservation of the forest environment, Symington stated that Yellow Stone National Park in US generates about $600 million to the economy of the US annually.
Speaking in line with the theme of this year’s Earth Day, Symington observed that Nigeria can generate more than the US was doing given the abundance in bio-diversity.
“Nigeria has over 9.6 hectares of forest the Cross River National Park (CRNP) representing two thirds of Nigeria’s surviving tropical rainforest.
“Nigeria has the highest deforestation rate of natural forest in the world, as Nigeria has been losing an average of 11 percent of its primary forest per year. Degradation, fragmentation and changing land use patterns, illicit logging, overhunting, unsustainable harvesting of non-timber forest products, uncontrolled fire, unsustainable collection of firewood and urbanisation have depleted Nigeria’s rainforest,” Symington said.
Director of Technical Programmes of the Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF), Dr. Joseph Onoja, who also spoke during the event, said there was serious need for creation of awareness on forest conservation, and environment protection among the young people who are Nigeria’s leaders in future.
Onoja said in this context, the NCF was providing support to 150 schools in Lagos for the teaching forest conservation. He said through the method awareness on National heritage was being created.
Deputy Conservator of Park, Cross River National Park, Caroline Olory, who was at the event, said Nigeria has seven national parks, but the Cross River National Park, is the only one where an endangered species of the drill monkey can be found.
In her remarks, the Director of Drill Ranch, Liza Gadsby, said since human beings need everything about the earth, it behooves on the people to preserve the earth and its resources.