US President Barack Obama will address Americans Tuesday night before a joint session of Congress. Mr. Obama is expected to unveil plans to resolve the country's ongoing financial crisis. Africans are hopeful that President Obama would also outline the need to strengthen US-African relations. Some are optimistic that aid to Africa would be increased since Mr. Obama's father hails from Kenya. But some political analysts say Africa should not hold its hopes too high after the recent global economic meltdown that has adversely affected the country's economy. Kabiru Mato is a political science professor at Nigeria's university of Abuja. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that Africans should be cautiously optimistic about what President Obama would be saying today.
"I think the expectations are not really high as a result of several reasons, one is of course the routine American government and president making a presentation on the state of the nation. Secondly, the fact that the American economies just like the industrialized economies across the world are being ravaged by the global financial meltdown. I expect that the address will basically feature centrally more on the steps that the government is going is taking in order to alleviate the suffering of American businesses and people," Mato pointed out.
He said President Obama should make entrenching democracy a center piece of his policy toward Africa.
"We expect also that this time around there must be some concerted effort on the part of the president or the American government to make sure that African governments or African countries receive in terms of the desire to establish good governance and the way to entrench democracy etcetera to make it a priority as the president (Obama) rightly mentioned in his inaugural speech were he discouraged those who think they can get to power in Africa through our following traditional short cuts to desist from doing that," he said.
Mato said although he understands the hopes and aspirations of African towards President Obama's presidency, he said the U.S. president's first priority is towards the American people.
"I don't think really it (African hope) is misplaced on one hand and on the other hand I am not also infatuated by the fact that President Barack Obama is an American president. So, his first constituency is first and foremost is the American and the interest of the American people will form crops of whatever decisions he is going to take that is about it. But secondly and more importantly if you look at the euphoria that greeted the ascendency of Barack Obama to power in November and the expectations of the entire global community not even to talk about Africa in particular poses a very serious political challenge to the president and his government," Mato pointed out .
He said there was need for the US government to partner with Africa in its bid to be more democratic.
"We will expect perhaps more constructive engagement, more constructive support and relationship that would ensure Africa emerges from the very shackles of backwardness that it has found itself in. Much more than the mere dumping of millions of dollars all over the continent to address specific issues and in most cases a lot of these aids does not either come in form of cash or even if they come in form of cash, they are not properly appropriated by the respective African ruling classes," he said.