- Category: DANIEL ELOMBAH
- Published on Saturday, 20 November 2010 18:52
- Written by Daniel Elombah
Former British Prime Minister, Mr. Blair was in Nigeria this week where he declared that the President Goodluck Jonathan's administration has a huge support of the international community. This statement appears to have irked or excited some Nigerians commentators depending on their position in Nigeria’s political divide.
However, a more pertinent question is: Why is Tony Blair in Nigeria?
Blair who was at the presidential villa on Wednesday according to a statement issued by the office of the media aide to the president told the president that there was a huge amount of goodwill in the international community towards supporting his efforts to achieve rapid socio-economic development in Nigeria.
Interestingly, Blair was in Abuja with Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JP Morgan, one of the world’s largest banks. They had audience with President Jonathan. Blair in a chat with newsmen afterwards said international confidence in Jonathan’s administration was the reason the JP Morgan bank upgraded its representative office to a branch.
But Jonathan on his part at the meeting said Nigeria would welcome support from international finance organisations and global banks such as the JP Morgan through long-term financing for the super-grid project which is critical to assuring the sustainability of stable power supply in the country, adding that his administration was according the highest priority to stabilizing and boosting power supply in the country.
Mr Blair as an international lobbyist was therefore in Nigeria to lobby on behalf of JP Morgan for a cut from the impending contract for the super-grid power project. So it’s all about lobbying, government contracts and dollars!
Blair’s Post-Prime Ministerial employment portfolio has skyrocketed since 2007, earning for himself extra-ordinary income as a financial consultant to some multi-national companies. Mr Blair earns £2.5-million-a-year salary as part-time advisor to the Wall Street bank JP Morgan.
Blair also consults for the top Swiss financial services company Zurich on "developments and trends in the international political environment". Zurich refused to say how much Mr Blair will earn. The former PM, who stepped down in June 2007 after more than a decade in power, is currently serving as an unpaid international envoy to the Middle East.
He chaired the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he rubbed shoulders with many of the world’s leading, and wealthiest, business people. He has previously said he is ready to take on a "small handful" of appointments - including working as an adviser to the government of Rwanda.
So whenever these former leaders – Blair and Clinton – come around with their shiny suits, we should keep our antennae up! It has nothing to do with their love for Nigeria; it’s all about the money.
Late on Sept. 6, 2005, a private plane carrying the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra touched down in Almaty, a ruggedly picturesque city in southeast Kazakhstan. Several hundred miles to the west a fortune waited: highly coveted deposits of uranium that could fuel nuclear reactors around the world. And Mr. Giustra was in hot pursuit of an exclusive deal to tap them.
Unlike more established competitors, Mr. Giustra was a newcomer to uranium mining in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic. But what his fledgling company lacked in experience, it made up for in connections. Accompanying Mr. Giustra on his luxuriously appointed MD-87 jet that day was a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton.
Upon landing on the first stop of a three-country philanthropic tour, the two men were whisked off to share a sumptuous midnight banquet with Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, whose 19-year stranglehold on the country has all but quashed political dissent.
Mr. Nazarbayev walked away from the table with a propaganda coup, after Mr. Clinton expressed enthusiastic support for the Kazakh leader’s bid to head an international organization that monitors elections and supports democracy. The same way that President Jonathan achieved a propaganda coup with Tony Blair.
Mr. Clinton’s public declaration undercut both American foreign policy and sharp criticism of Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record by, among others, Mr. Clinton’s wife, then Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
Within two days, corporate records show that Mr. Giustra also came up a winner when his company signed preliminary agreements giving it the right to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium agency, Kazatomprom.
The monster deal stunned the mining industry, turning an unknown shell company into one of the world’s largest uranium producers in a transaction ultimately worth tens of millions of dollars to Mr. Giustra, analysts said.
Just months after the Kazakh pact was finalized, Mr. Clinton’s charitable foundation received its own windfall: a $31.3 million donation from Mr. Giustra that had remained a secret until he acknowledged it last month.
The gift, combined with Mr. Giustra’s more recent and public pledge to give the William J. Clinton Foundation an additional $100 million, secured Mr. Giustra a place in Mr. Clinton’s inner circle, an exclusive club of wealthy entrepreneurs in which friendship with the former president has its privileges.- read this New York Times Story here http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/us/politics/31donor.html?pagewanted=all
The story above shows the importance of insisting that whenever these western powers and their minions in their shining suits come calling, our antennae should be on very high alert!
Of course, there is nothing wrong with Tony Blair helping JP Morgan and Nigeria strike deals and attract investments? Blair’s high fees or value in terms of new investment dollars coming through that effort may not even be the issue here? Some may point to possible international credibility in mobilizing foreign investments and getting large projects funded in Nigeria?
Moreover, lots could be said for the fact that in today’s world relationship can be very critical to anchoring and clinching a major deal or attracting large capital unless it’s an open tender. only those who don't understand these factors underpinning business relationship that may become confused or stand against it.
But If an international company is confident of the viability of its business proposal, why enlist the support of an influential person, in the person of Tony Blair to smoothen its paths? Is that not another form of bribery? On the same level as I-Gate bribing Atiku Abubakar in order to win telecom contracts in Nigeria?
Why would such multi-national comanies go through third parties, just like the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra used the influence of former US President Bill Clinton to secure monster deal worth tens of millions of dollars in Kazakhstan against competition from more established competitors: as noted above, “Mr. Giustra was a newcomer to uranium mining in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic. But what his fledgling company lacked in experience, it made up for in connections”.
Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that all relationships amount to sweet-heart or under-hand deals. Neither are we saying that Tony Blair came with Jamie Dimon to offer kick-back to Nigeria, Unless we are equating the nasty historical experience in Nigeria and some corrupt governments as the global norm.
However, the point I am making is that Tony Blair's declaration that President Jonathan is acceptable to the international community should be taken for what is; flatter, to allow JP Morgan execute their business coup and earn mouth-watering deals in petro-dollar contracts, while Tony Blair smile all the way to his banks!
Blair should shun flatter and stick to his business in Nigeria and make his money. He should abstain from instructing us on the antics of the international communities and their relationship with third world countries. Their view of Nigeria does not go beyond being a market for their products.