#3 President Obasanjo Visits the U.S.

  OUTCRY Magazine Press Coverage, Oct. 28,  1999

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America Welcomes President Obasanjo of the Republic of Nigeria

Nigeria Realizes a Giant Dream Under the Banner of Democracy!

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President Clinton and President Obasanjo during the Joint Press Conference at the White House

At the National Democratic Convention of 1996, I was one of those reporters in Chicago in the middle of the United Center covering the process of the American democracy. As excited as I was and privileged to cover the occasion I was envious of American democratic process seeing what was going on in Nigeria at that time. The military rulers continued their reign of terror! Nigerians were suffering as these military leaders looted and looted the government's revenue from the oil wealth. As President Clinton correctly quoted Wole Soyinka the Nobel Prize winner, during the press conference at the White House, that Nigeria a land flowing with milk and honey was turned to a "garden of decay."

President Clinton's quote reminded me of  my tearful moment at the Democratic Convention in 1996 as President Clinton was renominated for the second time.

This was the final moment of the convention, music was playing, people were cheering and numerous balloons were falling.

It was a moment in history I would never forget as I stood there totally consumed by the awe of the moment. I was happy for President Clinton and greatly appreciated the democratic process just transpiring before me.  Yet, a section of my heart was filled with so much pain as I thought about the political situation in Nigeria. I questioned the motive of the military rulers in Nigeria and questioned myself. How can a man say he loves his own father and intentionally trash his house? I thought about the sufferings of Nigerians in the midst of plenty.

Here,  I was standing alone petrified by my own emotions and memories crawling through my heart as the moment stood still within me. I was thinking about the "garden of decay" in Nigeria. At this time, a female journalist realizing I was lost and sucked into the passion of the moment, came closer to me and tapped me by the shoulder saying, "Let's go home, Yinka, it's all over." I turned around and she evidently saw my eyes. As we made our way though the big crowd leaving the United Center, she asked me, "Why were you tearful and taken by so many emotions?" I responded saying, "One day I wished I could be in the middle of a Nigerian Convention hall like this observing a democratic process in action." She said, "One day I believe your dream will become a reality." After the conversation, she went her way, I took a cab back to my hotel. The following morning, I flew out of Chicago.

At that time, what this lady said in that brief  conversation about me being able to realize the process of democracy in Nigeria was like a song from a fictional movie. Honestly I never believed she said a prayer or what she said turned to a prayer. Perhaps an angel was passing by at that time. Whatever the case, three years after the Democratic Convention in Chicago, I was covering the State's visit of President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria elected by the people in an openly democratic election. Many of us outside Nigeria watched the democratic process with disbelief as if we were watching a fairy tale through the Internet. We could not believe what we were seeing happening in Nigeria. According to President Obasanjo's statement, "No human being can stop the mission of God and no military power can stop the will of the people!"

Today, Nigerians are realizing the giant dream of democracy God has granted them as a gift. Like I have said for many years during the corrupt rule of the military government and violation of human rights, "When God says it is time for the judgment day for Nigerian leaders, no human being has the audacity to stand in the way."

My popular slogan, "No matter what they said about us, no matter what we do to ourselves, Nigeria shall rise again." Long live Nigeria's democracy! Nigeria, the "Pretty Woman," is looking good and the "Sleeping Giant" of Africa is now wide awake!

"When God calls you to do a job and you refuse to do His will, God will punish you." ... President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Oct. 27, 1999.

God is now looking down to Nigeria saying, "Well done Olusegun, my son and keep up the good work!"

V. 'Yinka Vidal reporting from Washington, D.C.

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