Tillerson’s Visit; North Korea and US By Emmanuel Onwubiko  

OPINION

The United States’ secretary of state is on whistle stop diplomatic shuttles to selected African nations with his last lap expected to commence today when he arrives in Abuja,  the beautiful capital city of Nigeria, reportedly the largest black nation globally.

Mr. Rex Tillerson is only just visiting the African continent clearly a year plus some months after his boss, the maverick Republican President of the United States of America Mr. Donald Trump clinched the World’s most coveted political office in one of the most contested elections in the political annals of the United States known as the World’s largest democracy. Donald Trump defeated all the establishment candidates in his party in which he is an outsider and also was victorious against the political party in power the Democrats which featured who would have become the first ever Woman President in America and the erstwhile Secretary of state abd wife of former US president Mrs. Hilary Clinton. Hilary Clinton was also a Senator representing New York at the Congress. 

The above prelimary facts adumbrated, but there are two imports or significant fallouts from this belated visit of the current second most powerful political office holder from the USA.  One, is that Africa matters less in the whole gamuts of political permutations and calculations of the current United States’ president Mr. Donald Trump whose major emblematic theme is America First.

Secondly, the belated diplomatic shuttles by the United States’ secretary of state may have been caused by the frightening explosive confrontations between the highly isolated North Korean regime and the United States which escalated with the rapid conducts of nuclear ballistic tests by the reclusive dictator of North Korea who has consistently repudiated the United Nations’ sanctions’ regime.

The feisty relationship in the Korean peninsula almost boiled down to the first ever Nuclear World war.

So as soon as the congress of the United States of America confirmed the erstwhile crude oil mogul Mr. Rex Tillerson as secretary of states his major diplomatic shuttles were his loaded diplomatic visits to South Korea, Japan, China and he indeed paid a visit to Russia whereby he is reported to be enjoying a robust friendship with the political authorities there headed by President Putin whose administration is being accused of interfering through cyber attacks in the elections that saw the Democrats losing to Donald Trump the outsider who became the then Presidential candidate of the Republican party.

The visit of the secretary of state to Africa and specifically to Nigeria has coincided with what is regarded as rare breakthrough in diplomatic truce between North Korea and South Korea in one hand and North Korea and the Trump’s led United States’ administration on the other. 

Mind you, as I write, the North and South Koreas are still technically at war  after the armistice declared soon after the Korean War nearly half a century ago.

Again, it was the South Korean leader who brokered peace between the reclusive young North Korean leader and the debonair business mogul turned politician Mr. Donald Trump who is the United States president. Few days back, South and North Korean presented a common team that participated at the Olympics that just happened in South Korea in which the biological sister of the North Korean leader headed. 

Trump, it would be recalled had blamed the past administrations of the USA in the last 25 years for pampering North Korean regimes which enabled the so-called rogue regime to further  advance on the building of its nuclear powers.

Mr. Tilllerson initially hinted over a period of four months now that although the USA was willing to dialogue, but he nevertheless backed the tough talking president Trump who had threatened categorically to drop the World’s mother of all Nuclear bomb on North Korea – the type never seen before in the history of ballistic weapons’ development history globally. The North Korean leader had earlier teminded the America’s tweeter loving  President that the Nuclear botton was always on his desk and Trump retorted by saying that America’s Nuclear botton was not just near him always but that it was more functionally bigger than that of North Korea which in any event may be fake. 

It can therefore be said that the current visit of the United states’ secretary of state to Africa could not have happened if the North Korean leadership had not  played down on war mongering rhetorics against the United States and even proceeded to offer his willingness to meet with Mr. Trump as soon as possible.

Before listing out what seems like agenda items for the visiting top official from the United States of America, we will very quickly take analytic view of the circumstances that occasioned the breakthrough between North Korea and the United States which obviously made it practically possible for the US secretary of state to visit the less strategic African continent and Nigeria in particular whose crude oil it no longer patronises. 

As stated earlier, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offered the opportunity of direct talk with the United States president for May 2018 and the US president reportedly accepted this offer described by international policy analysts as an extraordinary development’ following months of extensively threatening tension in the Korean peninsula.

Relatedly, the South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eu-Yong, was quoted by media as stating that the North Korean dictator has also accepted to freeze further Nuclear tests which is the primary trigger for the verbal exchanges between president Trump and the regime in North Korea.

It would be recalled that for one year since the emergence of President Trump in the White House, North Korea had fired nearly a dozen of ballistic missiles reportedly capable of reaching all the United States even as it tested what is widely suspected to have been a hydrogen bomb.

President Trump has immediately accepted the unusual offer even as observers had warned of repercussions should the United States president simply attends such a high profile meeting with a highly unpredictable dictator if the United States does not work out all the necessary pre-conditions for such a meeting.

Washingtonpost.com had reported that there has never been a face-to-face meeting, or even a phone call, between sitting presidents of both nations because American presidents have been wary of offering the Kim regime the validation of leaders – level summit on the global stage.

The United States’ media is reporting that a senior White House official has stated that the North Korean leader’s message included a “commitment to denuclearization” and emphasized that the USA would demand verification that the North is meeting its obligations in any prospective deal. 

However the tough talking Trump who mellowed down significantly is however of the opinion that existing sanctions against North Korea will stay in place which his administration tightened the noose and the United Nations also imposed its range of stifling economic sanctions on North Korea.

Washingtonpost.com specifically confirmed that the news of the offer of a truce stunned United States’ political leadership and foreign policy analysts, who as recently as last month were fretting over the possibility of a military conflagration on the Korean peninsula. 

This writer, similarly expressed anxiety in a piece over the extensive global wide damage that any nuclear war in the Korean peninsula could have to all of mankind including Nigerians.

Thankfully, sense and rationality have overcome ego and meaningless political pride.

Speaking about the imminent diplomatic visit of the American secretary of state to Nigeria, as a continuation of ongoing African diplomatic shuttles, the generality of Nigerians are expecting a set of demands from this historic meeting which basically can be summed up to an urgency of the moment to restore respect for the fundamental human rights of Nigerians by the president Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and most especially the right to life which has come under unprecedented attacks by what looked like ‘state – sponsored or rather state – sympathetic’ Fulani instigated attacks on different farming communities all across Nigeria. The Buhar-led government has failed to act decisively to disarm these armed Fulani herdsmen and bring perpetrators of large scale violence to trial. Also members of the Internal security team made up of an all Hausa/Fulani officials have failed to dispassionately confront the national security threats posed by armed Fulani herdsmen. 

During his stopover in Abuja, Nigeria, the secretary of state of USA  is expected to hold a press conference at the presidential villa on Tuesday by 11.45am.

Tillerson is expected to be joined in the press availability by Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama,” the embassy stated.

Tillerson has been on a weeklong tour of Africa. He has visited the Horn of Africa just days after he announced a new $533million aid package for Africa out of which $128 million was ear-marked for Nigeria and countries of the Lake Chad region.

When Tillerson meets Buhari, both men are expected to discuss counter terrorism effort and humanitarian issues in Nigeria’s Northeast and the Lake Chad basin.

He is also expected to discuss how to advance peace and security, promote good governance, and spur mutually beneficial trade and investment with the president.

During his trip, he is expected also to meet with US Embassy personnel and participate in events related to US government supported activities.

There is little doubt that these agenda items listed out by the USA’s embassy in Nigeria for their top political office holder visiting Nigeria for the first time since president Trump emerged at the World’s political stage, Nigerians expect the United States secretary of state to demand from the Nigerian regime that it respects the democratic rights of persons with independent voices and stop the needless interferences in both the legislative proceedings and the encroachment by the security forces under the Nigerian presidency targeting independent minded judicial officials.

America should demand that the armed security forces responsible for gross human rights violations since the last couple of years like the killings of unarmed civilian protestors under the auspices of the now proscribed indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) are prosecuted in a transparent judicial proceeding or else they should be reported to the international criminal court in the Hague, Netherlands.

Above all, the United States’ secretary of state should demand transparent and accountable electoral system for next year’s general election and ensure that it is not manipulated by the INEC made up of appointees of the incumbent president who is eyeing second term despite woeful first term.

The United States should demand that the president of Nigeria respects the constitutional checks and balances which makes for good governance and multiparty democracy just as the misuse of the anti-graft agencies to fight political opponents must be denounced. US must stop Nigeria from seeking to kill persons who believe in free speech just as the American top diplomat should discuss the incessant bloody attacks against Christians by Boko Haram terrorists in the North East of Nigeria. 

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is the Head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) andblogs@www.emmanuelonwubiko.comwww.huriwanigeria.comwww.huriwa@blogspot.com.

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