Tuesday 9 October 2007

Ojo (Maduekwe) has lost his mojo

Updated with video link ...

The BBC has now updated the HardTalk site with the Ojo Maduekwe interview - listen (Real Media file, you can obtain RealAlternative [Link to executable] to play this back in Windows Media Player).

Parseltongue from Nigeria

Unfortunately, the BBC has not updated its HardTalk site to include its recent guest. Having been creating a large carbon footprint around Europe, well visiting sunny Madrid and now settling down in my hotel in Paris, I searched for world language channel and landed on BBC World.

Just in time to see Chief Ojo Maduekwe the current Foreign Minister of Nigeria being grilled by Stephen Sackur.

Never have I seen someone so given to platitudes and banality exhibiting such a complete lack of grasp of his portfolio or realizing the importance of the quality of his responses.

Nigeria not in front

On three critical African issues, I failed to see Nigeria offering guidance, leadership or vision, just diplomatic talk aimed at appearing present but offering nothing.

Darfur – He expressed regret at the loss of African life especially Nigerians, he was not forceful about the need for real action and when cornered he tried to say it not really an entirely African problem (some truth) and the lack of resources for the soldiers was still praised as success on the part of Africans.

I doubt if he had deigned to grace Darfur with his presence as it does not exude the opulence megalomaniacal Nigerian politicians like to be found in.

Twice if not thrice in the whole interview, this offered one opportunity to damned Wole Soyinka with praise without acknowledging the cause Wole Soyinka lamented about.

Nigeria not forceful

Zimbabwe – Nigeria has no view on approaching the Zimbabwean issue to alleviate the sufferings of the people. Whilst it would have been undiplomatic to ask Mugabe to step down, he should have been more forceful about the need for change in that country.

Where Nigeria should have been a mover if sanctions should be considered, he skirted that question by saying when it comes to that situation, Nigeria would make its views known.

You do not need another person of great political importance to dampen the aspirations of a people in Africa than to have such a person in the position of Nigeria’s Foreign Minister.

Then he offered the democratic exercise in Nigeria as a template for the resolution of the issues in Zimbabwe, I was left breathless and astonished.

Nigeria an example?

Nigeria – Once again, regret was expressed at the death of people during the elections and whilst agreeing in a circulatory way that the elections were flawed he laid into Wole Soyinka for not being a politician and talking about political processes.

It force the Stephen Sackur to express a bit of frustration at how such a respected Nigerian could be discounted in such a way on issues that affect every Nigeria.

Ojo would not have it as he praised the success of the transition and then offered it as a tribute to those who died during the elections and pledged that the President offered to make election reform a fitting legacy to those who lost their lives.

Nigeria’s political class

Indeed, I need to watch this interview again, but my first impressions left me seriously unimpressed and not amused. It appears politicians and ministers have a view of themselves being above the fray in Nigeria and would not brook non-politicians commenting about Nigerian situations especially when expressing exasperation at the Nigerian polity.

There are people who might think he acquitted himself well, but I would say we have had better brains and articulate people with a good grasp of their briefs represent Nigeria before not to talk of the fact that the attack on Wole Soyinka might just be the mindset of denigrating world-respected Nigerian technocrats and great minds whose views gain greater audiences than the clowns who cannot even do balloons.

PS: Parseltongue made popular by the Harry Potter books is the language of snakes.

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