A newly-minted piece of commemorative cloth from Ghana, printed

for President Obama's first visit to the heart of Africa since taking

office. Ghana's gain is being seen as nearby Nigeria's loss. Nigerian

soul-searching over why Obama is skipping the oil-rich country is

reaching a fever pitch. On the cloth is President Barack Obama and

first lady, Michelle, and Ghanaian President John Atta Mills and first

lady Naadu Mills.

 

 

Modern Ghana, Ghana

'Snub' from Obama Reflects 'Death of Nigerian Diplomacy'

 

"Last weekend, a recently retired senior Nigerian diplomat sat, virtually alone in his club at a bar, doing more contemplating than drinking. He was interested in nothing but the impending one-day visit to the continent of Africa's own president of the United States."

 

By Sola Odunfa

 

June 12, 2009

 

Ghana - Modern Ghana - Original Article (English)

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka: One of the most well known and respected people in Nigeria, Mr. Soyinka has sparked a storm of controversy by saying he would 'stone' President Obama if he visited Nigeria, because this would be a kind of stamp of approval for Nigeria's corrupt leadership.

 

BBC NEWS AUDIO: Royal Dutch Shell agrees to pay $15.5 miliion to settle a lawsuit that accused the firm of complicity in human rights abuses in Nigeria, June 9, 00:04:48WindowsVideo

Last weekend, a recently retired senior Nigerian diplomat sat, virtually alone in his club at a bar, doing more contemplating than drinking. After watching him for some time I approached to cheer him up. He was interested in nothing but the impending one-day visit to the continent of Africa's own president of the United States.

 

"This cannot happen," he said.

 

"What cannot happen?" I asked. "This isn't the first time the most powerful man in the world will be visiting the continent of the dark man."

 

"Sola," he answered with a dry smile. "During my time in the foreign service, all of us in our missions in Europe and America would have been mobilized to ensure that President Obama at least made an airport stop in next-door Nigeria. We would have persuaded the White House that a touchdown in Nigeria would serve our mutual interests."

 

'GIANT OF AFRICA'

 

As the discussion, or more appropriately, the lecture went on, I found that the former diplomat's discomfort was caused, not by the apparent snub of the "Giant of Africa" as Nigerians love to describe their country, but by what he concluded was the death of Nigeria's foreign service. As far as my respected friend was concerned, the government had rendered the foreign service redundant.

Posted by WORLDMEETS.US

 

"That can't be the case," I said. "Remember long ago when Foreign Minister Ojo Madueke declared Nigeria's entire foreign policy was 'Citizens' Diplomacy'" That is, the government would do whatever was necessary to protect Nigerians everywhere in the world, including engaging in tit-for-tat actions when Nigerians are mistreated abroad.

 

"That was a hollow statement meant for newspaper readers," the diplomat replied.

 

In fact, he said, it was under military rule that Nigeria began practicing citizens' diplomacy: lawyers were recruited into the foreign service, trained in diplomacy and posted to key missions to advise Nigerians. When needed, such lawyers would attend court hearings to keep an eye out for Nigerians. According to him, in time, every government knew that if they mistreated innocent Nigerians in their country, their citizens in Nigeria would not be left untouched.

 

NIGERIA

GHANA

 

He also said that Nigeria became active in global institutions that formulate global immigrant policy in the interests of the large numbers of Nigerians in Europe and America.

 

Nigeria's clout as "Big Brother" was well established in Africa, especially in the western sub-region, so no serious international discussion on Africa would be held without the participation of Nigeria.

Posted by WORLDMEETS.US

 

"What has brought about the change," I asked.

 

He didn't mince words:

 

-- Perceived systemic corruption has led to suspicion within important circles

 

-- The economic downturn has resulted in a failure of government to back its diplomacy with funds

 

-- Lastly, President Umaru Yar'Adua, unlike former President Olusegun Obasanjo, hasn't demonstrates a serious interest in matters beyond Nigeria's shores.

 

It isn't only President Obama who is perceived by Nigerians as having snubbed their country. Even small African nations now behave with little concern for what the reaction of Nigeria might be.

 

SEE ALSO ON THIS:

My Joy, Nigeria: Residents of Elmina, Ghana 'Demand' that Obama Visit the Town
The Ghanaian Times: Minister Denies Obama-Visit Cloth Printed with State Funds
Ghana News Agency: Obama-Visit Souvenir Cloth Goes on Sale

The Ghanaian Times: 'Why Obama Snubbed Nigeria'
The Daily Sun, Nigeria: The 'Stoning' of President Barack Hussein Obama
This Day, Nigeria: Obama's Choice to Visit Ghana and Not Nigeria Should Be a Lesson to Us

Boobab, Nigeria: If Obama Comes to Nigeria, 'I Will Stone Him'

 

 

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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US June 20, 1:19am]