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Friday, July 10, 2009

Nigeria's Obama Angst

"Why would Obama want to come to Nigeria? To lend credence to the putrefying edifice that the nation has largely become?" one writer asked in the Guardian newspaper. Wole Soyinka, a Nobel prize-winning writer, said he would "stone" Obama if he legitimized Nigeria by visiting.

It is unsurprising that Obama's first visit as president to sub-Saharan Africa, an Obama-obsessed region that views him as a native son, would inspire continental envy. But in a country where democratic expression has been stunted by flawed elections, the move has given critics a fresh opportunity to stick it to their government. They call it a clear indictment of Nigeria's ever-present corruption, President Umaru Yar'Adua's slow progress, the conflict in the oil-rich Niger Delta and what some here see as cooled relations with the United States.

"Most people believe it's deliberate, not a mere oversight, and it's a statement and the message is well conveyed," said Reuben Abati, editor of the Guardian. "Nigerians are very angry with their government."

Nigerian officials, for their part, shrug off the angst. "It was a non-issue," Jibrin D. Chinade, Yar'Adua's special adviser on foreign affairs, said in an interview. "There is no message."

link: For Nigerians, Obama's Snub Prompts Soul-Searching -


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