Opinion: Jonathan and the Ministers of Rome

by Emma Okocha

Jonathan Goodluck

Ashiru, wearing the signature bow-tie strings of Bolaji Akinyemi, did not understand the main planks of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy. Unable to advise the Presidency on the repercussions of an Abuja red carpet reception for Al Bashir, the Sudanese, Butcher of Darfur, we knew his days were numbered.

The United Nations has over twenty-five indices of development. These include specific percentages of death and birth rates per given national populations.  Average national per capita earnings, literacy percentage levels.

Indeed, Cuba with an incredible 98% educated citizenry remains the world’s leading educated nation with the highest concentration of the most literate society since the Fidel Castro Revolution in 1959.

Furthermore, female Cuban doctors exceed the UN development requirement which proposes one Resident Doctor for every five hundred people.

There are other indices including average employment rates of citizens, mandatory provision of shelter to the people, etc.

Ignoring the persiflage raining from the besieged Governor of Rivers State and the return vitriol, from the Finance Minister on the state of the Nigerian Economy, we shall immediately analyze the recent sack of the nine ministers and the impact of that Presidential action on the unfolding national political development.

Inside the Cabinet in a Presidential system, the Foreign Minister in that order of Protocol is usually considered the numero uno. Coming after the Vice President and of course, the leadership of the National Assembly, the Foreign Minister is the international window and the spokesman of the President.

Nigerian Foreign Ministers from Jaja Wachukwu (Balewa), Okoi Arikpo (Gowon), Joe Garba (Mohammed) and later Bolaji Akinyemi, Ike Nwachukwu (Babangida) were great international actors, who during their stint, no matter the pressure, spoke for the nation. Africa and most of the time, the international community would take note, eventually moving to respect Nigeria’s aspirations.

Dr. Jaja Wachukwu,  Philosopher, Orator, educated in Dublin, handled Nigeria’s initial international forays with adroit perseverance, upholding the African policy as pronounced by his Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa. His Diplomacy in the Congo catapulted Nigeria’s leadership in the continent and his tenacity and evenhandedness saved the convicted Nelson Mandela from the Apartheid gallows. Dr. Okoi Arikpo’s effect during the war ensured the OAU’s support for the Federalists and the frustrated Biafrans derogated him, calling him the “Rainmaker.”

Joe Garba’s elan and stately eloquence was as a result of constant preparation and education on the job. Away from the Federal Guard duties, Foreign Minister Garba found his way to Harvard and surrounded himself up to his brief at the United Nations with eggheads.  Dr. Obazee, one of those Ciceros around him at UN General Assembly, is presently the Secretary, Anambra State Government.

No wonder his tenure and that of Prof. Bolaji Akiyemi signposted the Golden era of Nigeria’s Diplomacy. It was this era that went further to redefine the Balewa Africa Policy, adding more teeth to our continental mobilization. In 1975, Nigeria’s Murtala Mohammed at the OAU Conference in Addis Ababa, rocked the international community when he declared Nigeria’s support for all the African Freedom Fighters.

At the same time, debunking foreign imperialistic interventions in the continent, the regime moved for a direct confrontation against Apartheid with the recognition of the MPLA in Angola.

In our time, the Foreign Ministers especially those that served Abacha to Jonathan, in many ways muddled those sublime and well invested platitudes of the African Policy. Ikhimi was an embarrassment, especially after the hanging of Saro Wiwa, brought odium to our international status. He was perambulating the world defending the indefensible.

That African policy which over the years had added to Nigeria’s prestige supported ‘Operation Coretta’ the Cuban unprecedented Middle Power Intervention in Angola and Ethiopia.  With Nigeria’s total commitment the Soweto children rose up from their ghettos, ,walking the bloody revolution that sacked the evil Apartheid system in Southern Africa.  On the other hand, the same policy had cost Nigeria so much money and blood.

Without any clear alternative, without any consensus and mandate from the people, the Jonathan Presidency revised our productive African policy.

As a result, these later day Ministers, walking the muddle, have remained colorless. When they speak on world and African issues, they fail to communicate to the people. Rather, they are concerned with the juicy postings of staff, remunerations and the status of the ministry’s level 17 officers who according to the last staid Foreign Minister would now be upgraded as Ambassadors!

Ashiru, wearing the signature bow-tie strings of Bolaji Akinyemi, did not understand the main planks of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy. Unable to advise the Presidency on the repercussions of an Abuja red carpet reception for Al Bashir, the Sudanese, Butcher of Darfur, we knew his days were numbered.

For all his many defects, that particular national embarrassment prompting Abuja, to shake the “Darfur Hands of Blood”, before the lens of the Human Rights Community, was an obvious demonstration of Nigeria’s condoning of Genocide.

A signatory of the Rome Treaty, the Bashir Abuja welcome disfigures Nigeria’s obligations to the Black Peoples of the world and eats into her leadership status in the continent.

Under no pretext would a continental power like Nigeria, ever contemplate giving a red carpet reception in honor of an ICC, indicted Genocide perpetrator. Nigeria’s gravest foreign policy faux pas since Independence would continue to haunt this administration even after the sack of its Foreign Minister. Next to the Foreign Minister in the same order of Presidential Cabinet protocol, is the Defence Minister. Pray, who is the Defence Minister supervising our Armed Forces and Security Agencies especially at this time the country is going through civil strife?

Since Danjuma, we have held our breath and watched lackluster midgets appointed by Obasanjo, and others to head the very serious portfolio of supervising our revered Armed Forces.

We saw Governor Kwankwaso and recently Mrs. Obada and we wonder, judging from their antecedents if these Ministers before their appointments, ever saw a Frigate, ever read an Operational Order or can analyze, or brief on a CIA Report coming in from a troubled part of the continent.

Why, in this vast country would any responsible government not take her time and nominate a serious, software mind with some military and security background to serve as our Defence Minister, at this time!




Read this article in the Sun Newspapers


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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