by Ross Alabo-George
Before yesterday the name Prof. George Ayittey did not ring a bell in West Africa, he was probably only known in his country Ghana, and maybe in some parts of Ethiopia where he has been a regular presenter of papers. He is an economist, not exactly a sophisticated brand like the Okonjo-Iwealas or Soludos, he has managed to sustain his job at The American University in Washington DC as a professor of Economics.
Just a few days ago, he launched his trade into the Nigerian political sphere; lashing out at President Goodluck Jonathan is a manner which he will not dare to council chairman in Ghana. As a right thinking Nigerian, I felt badly insulted, that a Ghanaian will be so bold to disparage the president of Nigeria in such a scathing way. As I write, I am not entirely happy with President Goodluck Jonathan, especially with his surrender to the Boko Haram politicians of Northern Nigeria, and consequential sacking of General Andrew Azazi. However, I felt deeply miffed by the statements of the Ghanaian professor whose online statements appeared suspicious to me.
His use of language was so entirely familiar and the flow seemed too much like a script written by either Mallam Nasir Elrufai or Dr. Aliyu Tilde, both die hard revilers of the president. I immediately sought to know who exactly this ‘renowned economist’ really was. My curiosity was further stirred when I observed speed with which the Ghanaian professor had learnt the constitution of Nigeria in just a few hours, and he was quoting sections of the Nigerian constitution. He also, in his interview kept referring to President Jonathan as ‘GEJ’. GEJ is not the name foreigners call Jonathan; he constantly lashed the president as ‘clueless’ a tag operatives like Mallam Elrufai want on Jonathan’s neck.
According to his faculty profile available online, Prof. Ayittey holds a B.Sc. in Economics from the University of Ghana, Legon, an M.A. from the University of Western Ontario in Canada, and a Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba. He has taught at Wayne State College and Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.
He held a National Fellowship at the Hoover Institution in 1988-89, and then joined The Heritage Foundation as a Bradley Resident Scholar. He founded The Free Africa Foundation in 1993, to serve as a catalyst for reform in Africa
Almost immediately he got the Heritage Foundation as a resident scholar, Babangida was honoured by the Heritage Foundation, a US right wing front whose philosophy is total world domination, economically, politically and militarily.
Nana Apau, a Ghanaian journalist, in his article titled – Ghana oil: seeking national or some personal selfish interests?- described Prof. George Ayittey as a major and well known African lobbyist in Washington DC. Prof. Ayittey was member of the African Oil Policy Initiative Group (AOPIG). It is the AOPIG that formed the US-Africa Energy Association, members of which included a number of serving and former Bush administration and several oil companies such as BP, Chevron, Texaco, Marathon, Shell and Anadarko. AOPIG and the US-Africa Energy Association lobbied the Bush Administration for the creation of AFRICOM. Nana accused Prof. Ayittey of lobbying for oil companies – inn particular Prof. Ayittey was accused of pushing Anadarko, a company that has become a player in the Ghana oil find. Clearly, the president was right when he said “criticizing Goodluck Jonathan has become a big business in Nigeria”. Who paid this lobbyist to disparage the president? Washington lobbyists like Prof. George Ayittey work hard for their money, but the nature of their work is to use their position and influence to push the interest their paymasters. This is exactly what Prof. George Ayittey has done – to amplify the mutterings of General Ibrahim Babangida his paymaster and friend. Ayittey’s sponsors belong to the same circle with the sponsors of Boko Haram, and their objective is to adequately embarrass the president internationally, so much so that the United States and our Western allies will see the Jonathan as a weak president. The end game however is the next elections in 2015. The sponsors of Ayittey are fraudulently building up a strong case against the president and his party. SourceWatch, an international magazine exposed Prof. Ayittey as one the major West African lobbyist in Washington. See: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=African_Oil_Policy_Initiative_Group Prof. Ayittey has consistently used his status as an African frontline economist to push the interests of his clients. The Centre for Media and Democracy (CMD) publishes SourceWatch, this collaborative, specialized encyclopaedia of the people, organizations, and issues shaping the public agenda. SourceWatch profiles the activities of front groups, PR spinners, industry-friendly experts, industry-funded organizations, and think tanks trying to manipulate public opinion on behalf of corporations or government. SourceWatch also highlights key public policies they are trying to affect and provide ways to get involved.
With his strong conservative leaning, being an associate of the Heritage Foundation, a fundamentally Republican think tank with long standing IBB affiliations, Prof. Ayittey’s comment on Goodluck Jonathan must not be taken lightly by this administration. It is an indicator that if US Republican candidate Mitt Romney wins in the coming US elections, right-wing lobbyists like Ayittey will drop rapid punches for their paymasters. This government must seek to counter this now, or else risk irreparable embarrassment in Washington DC.