*Say meetings ill-advised, unwitting jamboree of shame
The Nigerian Academy of International Affairs, a body of former foreign affairs ministers and retired diplomats, have condemned leading presidential candidates and serving governors, among others, for leaving Nigeria to hold political meetings in London, Paris and Dubai.
The academy, set up for open and private debate on the emerging new world order, lamented that such a decision had already exposed Nigeria, directly or indirectly, to unwarranted Western influence.
In a statement by its President and former Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, the academy described the political meetings held by some presidential candidates in London, Paris and Dubai last week as ill-advised and unwitting jamboree of shame.
The presidential candidates – Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Bola Tinubu of All Progressives (APC) and Mr. Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP) – had held separate meetings with Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike and his allied governors in London, Paris and Dubai.
Other governors at the meetings are Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde; Benue State Governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom and Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu who allied with Wike after Abubakar emerged the presidential flagbearer of PDP and nominated Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate.
As the feud between Abubakar and Wike grow worse by the day, Tinubu and Obi had preyed on the crisis, now courting Wike and his allied governors for support ahead of the 2023 presidential election scheduled to hold on February 25 due principally to his political influence in the south.
Concerned about the decisions of the presidential candidates, the academy said it was most unfortunate and heart-breaking that some Nigerian leaders had to abandon the shores of Nigeria for the ex-colonialists’ capitals of London and Paris in search of delusion-solutions to Nigeria’s problems.
Akinyemi, who issued the statement on behalf of 17 other former foreign affairs ministers and retired diplomats, lamented that some horse-trading, which dominated their so-called talks on bringing “enduring hope to Nigeria,” centred on counting their chickens before the eggs are hatched.
He said the ill-advised and unwitting jamboree of shame displayed by the leading political leaders in London, Paris and Dubai “has demonstrated once more that the Nigerian environment created and polluted by them is not conducive to their vainglorious self-importance and unearned esteem.
“Consequently, and because of their Neo-colonial mentality which blinded them from seeing and appreciating the goodwill and resilience of Nigerians, they preferred savoury Western atmosphere.
“The implication of which is the exposure of Nigeria directly or indirectly to unwarranted Western influence, particularly as they were perceived to be washing our dirty linens in the full glare of the world,” he lamented with grave concern about the future of Nigeria,
Rather than finding solutions to diverse challenges confronting the country, Akinyemi lamented that deliberations at the meetings focused on dividing and allocating the national cake to themselves even before the cake is baked, as regards allocation of principal offices of the National Assembly, ministerial posts, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and others.
He observed that the political leaders should have devoted sufficient time to finding solutions to the pervasive insecurity, economic recession and poverty in the land, problems which they caused or contributed substantially to their creation.
He therefore said the unnecessary and inexcusable trips to London, Paris and Dubai demonstrated the insensitivity and reckless disregard for the plights of Nigerian workers and pensioners whose salaries and pensions have not been paid for a long time.
According to him, it is really revolting and unacceptable that Nigerian leaders should always fly out of the country in search of the magic wand to solve the country’s problems.
He further observed that it would have been more cost effective and appropriate “to brainstorm here in Nigeria in order to get wise counsel from the rich pool of very capable and patriotic Nigerians.
He noted that the solution to Nigeria’s problems “lies within Nigeria and among Nigerians,” warning them against the norm and practice that Nigerian leaders had “to fly to Western capitals to rule the country by remote control in the same way that many nonchalant State Governors rule their states from Abuja.”
He also observed that during the gravest period of the country’s existence between 1967 and 1970, civil war, peace meetings and conferences were held only in Africa, noting that none of such conferences and meetings was held in Europe or the Americas.
The former foreign affairs minister noted that it was this kind of neo-colonialist behaviour that led “to our absence from the global scene. Nigeria is not invited to G-20, BRICS or any significant meetings.
“Countries that watch our leaders’ pattern of behaviour such as the obnoxious conclaves in London, Paris and Dubai will have no respect for Nigeria. No wonder South Africa has eclipsed Nigeria from the global scene.”
While former Director General, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Prof. Bola Akinterinwa serves as its Secretary, the members of the academy comprise Lt. General Agwai Martin Luther, Prof. Joy Ogwu, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia (SAN), Prof. Jide Osuntokun, Prof. Alaba Ogunsanwo, Prof. Akin Oyebode and Amb. Godknows Igali and Director General of NIIA, Prof. Eghosa Osagie, among others.