newly-minted piece of commemorative cloth from Ghana, printed
President Obama's first visit to the heart of Africa since taking
Ghana's gain is being seen as nearby Nigeria's loss. Nigerian
over why Obama is skipping the oil-rich country is
a fever pitch. On the cloth is President Barack Obama and
lady, Michelle, and Ghanaian President John Atta Mills and first
'Snub' from Obama Reflects
'Death of Nigerian Diplomacy'
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)
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,"
"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
'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.
"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.
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.
"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
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
SEE ALSO ON THIS:
My Joy, Nigeria:
Residents of Elmina,
Ghana 'Demand' that
Obama Visit the Town
The Ghanaian Times:
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
Comes to Nigeria, 'I Will Stone Him'
by WORLDMEETS.US June 20, 1:19am]