Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), a Nigerian Non-Governmental (NGO), has congratulated US President-elect, Joe Biden for winning the November 3rd, 2020 presidential poll.
This is even as it has called Biden’s presidency to privilege Nigeria in his foreign policy by paying more attention to ensuring accountability and good governance in Nigeria because further deterioration of the socio-economic situation would have negative repercussions for the global security, including the United States of America.
In a statement signed by its Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, CISLAC declaring the outcome of the election as “the progressive change that reflects the aspirations and desires of the people of United States as well as high anticipation of the international community for the US leadership in pressing global matters”, CISLAC said it was looking forward to working with the President’s-elect administration as the US support has been instrumental in advancing CISLAC’s goals in the past.
Rafsanjani, who is also Head of Transparency International Nigeria, also is argued that the Biden’s presidency must also make Nigeria-US bilateral trade to benefit Nigerian society.
According to CISLAC, this is because strengthening of the Nigeria-United States bilateral relationship through trade, investment and transfer of know-how remains paramount to mitigate the fast-growing unemployment challenges and boost industrialisation with youth employment opportunities.
Lamenting how trade relationships with developed countries have sadly deepened the economic inequality in Nigeria, CISLAC, however, expresses belief that trade could serve as a catalyst for economic and human development if conducted in equity and fairness. Stretching the argument, CISLAC said it is in the interest of the United States that bilateral trade benefits all segments of the Nigerian society by contributing to poverty reduction in a country with over half of the 200 million population live in abject poverty while just over 50 thousand of Nigerians enjoy immense wealth of at least $1 million in assets.
Also included in the shopping list covered in the congratulatory message is formulating and implementing what it calls a coherent policy to address the lingering insecurity in Nigeria.
The NGO which promotes transparency and good governance, further argued that every Nigerian could witness the impact and consequences of the generalised insecurity kidnapping for ransoms, rural banditry, attacks by insurgents and wide socio-economic dissatisfaction.
Citing recent public riots across Nigeria, CISLAC said the breakdown of the law and order happened in spite of the immense wealth from natural resources of Nigeria. It, therefore, stressed the need to draw the attention of the President-elect to what it called the systemic corruption that has eaten deep into Nigeria’s public sphere including unaccounted asset recovery and normalised money laundering.
“It is estimated that the cost of corruption in Nigeria runs as high as 30% of the country’s GDP”, CISLAC pointed out, adding the downside of the Nigerian Government claiming recovery of assets worth billions of dollars but without proper accountability on the management and utilization of the assets as to prevent re-looting.
It is also implored the US and the international community to contribute to strengthening electoral reform beyond Smart Card Reader innovation; expand shrinking civil society space; work against what it calls unchecked pocket-serving ethno-religion politics in Nigeria including recurring but divisive and unhealthy separatist agitations.
CISLAC finally reiterated earlier position against imposing sanctions on Nigeria, saying such would be contra-productive and harm the poor.