By David Onmeje
Former American Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. John Campbell’s obsession with the destruction or destabilization of Nigeria is renowned. No one cares about his ranting anyway.
But what amuses Nigerians is that each time he explodes with his personal emotions and anger against a united Nigeria, which is waxing stronger on all indices, he vomits gibberish and commits amazing blunders.
What is more bewildering about Campbell is his refusal to deploy his supposedly deep knowledge and experience about Nigeria to positive preachments on uniting a nation or assisting it to overcome its foibles in consonance with the sacred principles of his home country, America.
Campbell has worked twice in Nigeria; first as a political counselor in the late 1980s and later, as American envoy to Nigeria from 2004 to 2007. Very few Americans parade such record of official interface with Nigeria.
Ordinarily, and barring mischief, John Campbell’s enriching knowledge of Nigeria should position him on a pedestal to even represent the country anywhere in the world as its special ambassador and speak accurate facts. But it appears he is possessed or hued from the wrong side of humanity.
Campbell dispenses himself more as a masochist and sadist, who is only delighted when nations go up in flames over unresolved problems or people suffer the agonies of conflicts. This diplomat is anti-progress.
That Campbell is loquacious is obvious. But whether he makes sense to even himself is exactly the issue. He strikes like a man whose conscience is dead completely, somewhat of a dementia. He had in the past predicted distasteful things about Nigeria, specifically, it’s disintegration. But Nigeria survived his wish of doom.
He again repeated the empty prediction, in the build-up to the 2014 general elections in Nigeria. Campbell predicted the total collapse of Nigeria. He said Nigeria will cease to exist as a nation beyond 2015. But Nigeria is in 2019 today and exudes no signs of disintegration.
And he adduced very laughable reasons. Hear him; “My view has not changed about the serious challenges Nigeria faces. I think the challenges are more pronounced than they were before the Boko Haram insurrection began in the North. Political life is also unsettled by the approach of the 2015 elections.”
Ironically and contrary to Campbell’s satanic prayers on Nigeria, the country emerged from the election stronger and more united. What’s more? Years later, Campbell’s “bad belle,” predictions were vacated by a serving American Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, James Entwistle who pointedly disgraced Campbell by asserting that though Nigeria faced “big challenges”, the problems were not beyond mutual resolution.
His position was more official hence as a serving envoy, he spoke at the behest of the United States Government. So, Campbell, a prophet of doom, was shamed.
Inexplicably, Campbell has refused to free his psyche from the affairs of Nigeria. He flaunts a fake sophistry of knowledge of affairs of Nigeria more than Nigerians. He is restless that Nigeria, like every other nation has managed its explosive problems and resolved them amicably overtime and she has refused to disintegrate to the excitement of the likes of Campbell.
And consistently, the American ex-ambassador to Nigeria throws some harsh salvos at Nigeria. It’s like his favourite past time is when he hurls meaningless jibes at Nigeria. He erroneously sees Nigeria as one small banana republic in Africa which must be denigrated by his tantrums and “superior” wisdom.
Having been silent since President Muhammadu Buhari shocked him with his unique leadership style in Nigeria, a diverse and complex nation, Campbell vainly scratched his head to find something to parrot.
So, the 2019 general elections offered him a faint opportunity. Nevertheless, he grabbed it with enthusiasm to replenish his image as the “bad news from America.”
In his recent post-mortem on Nigeria’s 2019 general elections to the American Council on Foreign Relations in Washington DC, Campbell mouthed that the election was bad news for democracy in Nigeria.
He discredited the polls, which again contradicted the verdict of international election observers who monitored it. Campbell was nowhere in Nigeria when the elections held.
He even convicted the judiciary in public court as unlikely to dispense justice to electoral litigants. He constituted himself into a mono-advisory body and advised the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) to review the conduct of the elections and make amends where possible.
Media reports quoted him as saying, “The poor quality of this election cycle and the low and declining number of voters do not inspire confidence, and some Nigerians have begun to question whether democracy is right for their country.”
For those who are familiar with Campbell this is not strange. He has vowed; his only mission on earth now is to discredit everything Nigerian.
What is new with his latest outbursts is the discovery of his capacity to twist obvious and indisputable facts. Campbell lied that President Buhari spent much of his first term abroad for medical treatment and hardly campaigned for his reelection. But in the last two years Buhari has been in Nigeria steadily.
That an American diplomat could condescend so low as to peddle such cheap lies is a big smear on the American image. It is shocking and embarrassing to his personality and his country.
But what is Campbell’s special interest in Nigeria’s 2019 general elections? Is he angered that America could not penetrate Nigeria to plant a surrogate leader? Granted that the Nigerian elections were rigged, as he wishes, is Campbell experiencing rigged elections for the first time in Nigeria alone? Are elections not rigged in America?
An American analyst recounted America’s experience about rigged elections in these words; “Since the 2000 election, which ended in a legal battle that stopped recounts of ballots in Florida, paranoia about the nation’s election system has mushroomed.
According to a Pew Research Center survey, just 48 percent of Americans were confident that “the votes across the country were accurately counted” in the 2004 election. After 2012, an election with a wider popular vote margin, that percentage fell to 31 percent. Among Republicans, it was 21 percent.”
During his electioneering campaigns, President Donald Trump bitterly complained about this possibility in the 2016 American presidential elections in which he was a candidate.
At a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Trump was insistent that 2016 presidential election is ‘rigged’ and he accused the media of colluding with Hillary Clinton’s campaign organization by refusing to report that Americans who died 10 years ago are casting votes.
At another instance, Trump tweeted that “large scale voter fraud” is endemic and that “naive” Republican leaders needed to recognize it.” In all the instances, we never heard the voice of Campbell nor did he reel out the unsolicited recommendations he has hurled at Nigeria. Campbell should desist from fouling the air about Nigeria.
Campbell should not delude himself that he is in a position to certify or endorse Nigeria’s general election before the world recognizes that Nigeria’s democracy has stabilized and it is unshakable.
Like the international election observer missions in Nigeria have pointed out rightly, the 2019 general elections are freer, fairer and more credible than preceding ballots in the country.
The elections were conducted for Nigerians and the people have widely acknowledged the innovations and improvements in the elections. Nigeria for once deserve kudos.
It is an election devoid of executive interferences, manipulation of the electoral umpire, near zero incidents of electoral violence and the face of victories cut across candidates of different political parties.
Campbell can jump into the Lagoon, but Nigeria is not dazzled by his malicious outbursts about the 2019 general elections. He has an incurable hatred on anything Nigerian and no one is prepared to placate him.
Onmeje is Managing Director, TheNigerian News Group and wrote from London.