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Nigerian System Can't Produce An Obama - Carrington

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Nigerian System Can't Produce An Obama - Carrington

Post  Admin on Tue Aug 26, 2008 11:45 pm

It would be difficult for Nigeria or any other African country to produce the Barack Obama phenomenon sweeping through the entire world, because none of them has created a political system capable of doing so.

These are the views of former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Walter Carrington - who, himself, is described as a phenomenon and a friend of Nigeria, for the role he played in the struggle in re-establishing democracy in the country by standing up against Sani Abacha.

Carrington, who is married to a Nigerian, on Tuesday laid bare the contradictions in the two systems and concluded that the current situation in the U.S. was made possible by its peculiar Presidential system.

His words: "Our national parties are institutionally very weak. They do not function the way political parties do in a Parliamentary system or in Nigeria's Presidential system.

"Earlier in this campaign, I heard from Nigerians both here and in the U.S. who could not understand how a young upstart like Obama could challenge the Clintons who represented the party's patriots. Wasn't there any party discipline? they asked. No, I told them."

Carrington explained that political parties in America are less structured along individual lines, thus making it almost impossible to be influenced by one man, nobody pays dues, and everyone is free to vote for individual candidates.

"You can register today as a Democrat to vote in the primaries and the next day as a Republican to vote in the Presidential election. In the general election, you can vote for a Democrat for one office and a Republican for another. There is no way your party can sanction you if you do.

"The idea that candidates owe their primary allegiance to the party is a concept no American can understand. The party in America is merely a vehicle for raising money and garnering votes. It exerts no discipline on elected officials except to support another candidate against them in the next primaries. They cannot take the party's label away from anyone. They cannot expel you from the party."

Carrington spoke in Lagos at a lecture organised by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Consulate in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA).

He noted that Nigeria's politics has been of the people, by the people, but not for the people. He said the challenge is for the Nigerian people to find a way to make their government work for them.

He stressed the importance of Nigeria to America, saying the crisis in the Niger Delta is of concern, as the cost of fuel is a central issue in the contest between Obama and the Republican candidate, John McCain.

"These domestic issues are greatly influenced by what happens here in this country of Nigeria.

"You have been our third largest source of imported oil. The expectation and hope was that by 2015, you will have become our first or second source by helping to wean us away from the unstable Middle East.

"But Nigeria's continuing failure to bring justice and development to her oil-producing region will cause increasing regional instability at home and financial instability abroad."

Carrignton served as U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria from November 1993 to October 1997.


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