Nigerian Warns Of Africa “Scramble�

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Africans must prepare themselves for the “fourth scramble for Africa” by outside powers, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, said in a gathering to pay tribute to the departing president in New York City, Tuesday.

Speaking to hundreds of invited Nigerian and American guests during an evening dinner billed as “A Night of Celebration And Tribute,” the  Nigerian leader said unlike the first three scrambles for Africa –slavery, colonialism and the Col War were the first three, he said – the African continent is now in a position to protect itself.

Obasanjo said the new scramble for Africa was for the continent’s energy resources and that it primarily pits China against the United States. China has one of the world’s fastest growing economies while the United States, which has an insatiable appetite for oil, has been trying to diversify its sources as the Middle East is more embroiled in conflict.

Obasanjo said oil is a God-given resource and that while it does benefit the entire world’s economy, the primary beneficiaries should be the areas where these reserves are found.

Obasanjo is stepping down next year after he completes his second Presidential term. He was lauded for ushering in civilian rule in Nigeria and his crackdown on corruption.

Obasanjo said it was important that his ruling party’s torchbearer succeed him as president in order to continue the party’s platform. He also said the gains made towards democracy were not yet irreversible.

Among the prominent guests in attendance were P.J. Patterson, former Jamaican Prime Minister, and Andrew Young, former US United Nations ambassador and Atlanta mayor.

Obasanjo warned that the continent was yet to recover from the pillage of slavery, colonial rule, and the Cold War, which pitted African countries against each other—fighting proxy wars for the East versus West. Unless African countries secured the peace and protected the resources the continent could end up losers again.

He recalled that he had many doubters when he embarked on pushing his country towards civilian rule. His guests laughed when he said: “Some say I am a complex man, while others say I am a simple man.”

The Nigerian seemed pensive at times as he spoke about what he called his humble upbringing, which he joked was a euphemism for “poverty,” and being raised by illiterate parents. He spoke about his military education in Ghana and later serving in the UN’s peacekeeping efforts in what was then Congo-Kinshasa, one of many peacekeeping efforts he has been involved in throughout his life. His supporters in attendance said Obasanjo should be considered for a Nobel Peace Prize, citing his leadership of several efforts to quell African conflicts. Obasanjo had “a hand in all the good deeds and things that have happened in Africa,” former ambassador Young said. Fred Nelson, a Chevron executive and Rep Donald Payne, also spoke.

The event –sponsored by Chevron, GoodWorks International, Zenith Bank, ExxonMobil, Shell Nigeria, Delta and Nasarawa State—was held at the Waldorf Astoria and hosted by Hope Masters, President and CEO of the Sullivan Foundation.

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