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November 26, 2006
Image removed.Saharareporters, New York

If the ongoing underground mobilization of Nigerians in the US becomes a reality, then a massive protest capable of derailing the launch of the "Heart of Africa" propaganda project of the Obasanjo government may be in the offing, the controversial project already cynically described as the "Heart of Waste" might face monumental opposition from Nigerians in the US. The launch of "Heart of Africa" project in London last week were marred by protests from members of the Movement of the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) UK chapter. The protest was led by a British citizen who publicly denounced the Nigerian government delegation at the launch venue, accusing the Nigerian government of killing 700 MASSOB activists in the South Eastern Anambra State.

So far, Nigerian pro-democracy, human rights and a few socio-cultural groups are poised to confront the "Heart of Africa" delegation with protests over what they describe as another wasteful "white elephant propaganda project". The Nigerian government through its Ministry of Information, plans a public outing in Washington DC early next week. The "Heart of Africa" project is massively funded by the federal government of Nigeria, it is designed to promote Nigeria positively around the world with the help of private consultants.

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But Nigerians in the US are not buying it, most members of the opposition groups engaged in the mobilization against the launch says that self-inflicted poverty, breakdown of infrastructure, corruption, insecurity of lives/property and generally bad governance of Nigeria rather than Western media conspiracy is responsible for the sorry state of the nation, insisting that those cannot be resolved with a fancy pet propaganda project driven by corruption and aimed at draining away needed resources from priority programs that can alleviate poverty for average Nigerians, which would have made the on-going propaganda project(s) unnecessary. They cited the case of Angola, an oil producing nation that had just ended a 20-year civil war as an example of an African nation where serious government initiatives are yielding economic developments that has made Angola a magnet for foreign investors and tourists in the last two years.

True to this charge, the "Heart of Africa" project spends tonnes of money on placing irrelevant multi-million dollar adverts on CNN and other expensive foreign media outlets to promote Nigeria. Recently, the project invited the Eddie Robinson Foundation-sponsors of the Eddie Robinson Motherland Football Classic-to play American football games in Abuja Nigeria starting from Decemeber 16th 2006. The Nigerian government through the "Heart of Africa" project paid the Eddie Robinson Foundation $5 million to play the classic in Nigeria even though Nigerians don't understand American Football at all. Nigeria is a popular soccer playing nation in Africa. Also, a huge amount of money had been paid to consultants to arrange international media coverage for the event, already American cable sports channel,ESPN has declined to broadcast the games.

Apart from the wasteful American Football Classic, the Heart of Africa project delegation travels with a retinue of Nigerian government officials including "embedded journalists" who sources said are close to 250 persons per trip. All of them are paid 'estacodes' that runs into millions of dollars. This culture of waste, corruption and patronage remains one of the many reasons adduced by protesting Nigerians in the US, who are bent on disrupting the event. Other complaints stated include the selective anti-corruption war being waged by President Obasanjo whose former senior special assistant, Emmanuel Nnamdi 'Andy' Uba was caught up in a money laundering scandal that led to his abrupt resignation few weeks ago. Mr. Andy Uba who smuggled large sums of money on President's Obasanjo's plane to New York in 2003 was not arrested or questioned by the EFCC as widely expected by Nigerians. Instead, he is known to be the 'sole candidate' for the Anambra State gubernatorial elections coming up in 2007. He enjoys the full backing of the president in his exploits that is already marred with electoral irregularities as well as massive intimidation of opponents with the EFCC and deadly cult gangs recruited from the universities around South Eastern States . The groups also cite the continued detention of political activists like Gani Adams of the OPC, Chief Ralph Uwazurike of MASSOB, Alhaji Asari Dokubo of NDPF and the killings of Niger Delta civilians by the Nigerian government as part of the reasons why the programs will be heavily resisted next week.

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In another development, a group of Nigerians have sent a petition to the US Attorney General, Mr. Alberto Gonzales asking that the US authorities thoroughly investigate President Obasanjo and his aides for money laundering activities. The petition which was signed by Nigerians all over the globe stems from the money laundering scandal involving President Olusegun Obasanjo's former senior special assistant, Mr. Emmanuel Nnamdi Uba -A.K.A Andy Uba which led to a recent out of court settlement in which Mr. Uba paid a fine of $26,000 to the US treasury department. The petitioners express worry that the civil forfeiture case brought against Mr. Uba amounts to a slap on the wrist compared to the gravity of the case presented in the sworn affidavit presented by the special agent who investigated the case, ICE agent Guy Gino.

The group specifically requested that President Obasanjo's aircraft involved in the currency trafficking to the US be confiscated until a new president is sworn in in May 2007. The leader of the petitioners, Dr. Baba Adam told Saharareporters that his group intends to have a definite action taken against President Obasanjo and his entourage when they visit Washington DC in December attend a dinner to honor President Obasanjo by the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation. The petitioners also call on the US government to investigate the controversial Washington DC -based Leon H. Sullivan Foundation for acts the petitioners described may have compromized their not-for-profit  (501 c 3)status with the US federal government.

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