Amaechi's Speech: The Potentiality Of Diplomacy

by Odimegwu Onwumere

“Arms are the tools of war, but not necessarily the most powerful tools; words, ideas, and reputations, may be more powerful” – John Poreba

It will never elicit any form of argument to say that providence has made Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers one of the blessed-people in Nigeria, no matter all odds. But he seems to not know how to present his speech most times. Many people have characterized his speeches as “blunt, annoying, but although brilliant” in his first tenure as governor.

This is his second tenure! Some of the people who have followed him in the last dispensation of his government hardly said anything without sanctioning him about the manner he talked. Though, defining the essentiality of his utterances as truth, it took most of them discipline, time and confidence to go along with him. Amaechi hardly exhibit father and child relationship. He even have said it in many occasions that he was not a killer but arrogant. His perceived arrogance could be likened to not insulting people, but the lack of diplomacy to be choosy with words, in a very charming style.

“In truth, Amaechi’s style of public speech-making can be very unsettling even to his aides and political associates and very annoying to those who believe that a governor should be discrete, economical with the truth and put political friendship and future above all other in criticism of issues he himself finds unsettling.” (The Tide, Aug 9th, 2010).

But to Amaechi, the same report said, diplomacy with words means, being untruthful to self, political self-censorship, battle against the truth and a contradiction of his owed favour for openness and accountability. True success does not come from doing or saying nothing, or avoiding annoying truths on friends nor is it about the fear of making mistakes. It is instead the willingness to stand firmly by what he truly believes in; never bothered by the many ethno-political passion such positions naturally ignite.

Amaechi reasserting himself is not a joke. But we think he is always promoting himself and taking credit for what diplomats would loathe with shame to admit. We think he must stop being a disingenuous person he has always been, even though that many believe that he is transforming Rivers State.

“Things are really changing in Rivers State, only that Amaechi is a military civilian in his action. He can remove anytime and put anytime.” (Okwyjesus. Nairaland, June 06, 2009). This comment was made when Amaechi dissolved his cabinet.

In the same forum, another commentator said that it is unfortunate that some governors in their bid to satisfy the whelm of their political party and also consolidate on their power put the interest of the people on line. “Amaechi based his selection of cabinet members on loyalty, not on competent or credibility. Nevertheless, he can boost his CV by identifying with Fashola who will enlighten him on how to track down erring cabinets.”

While it is reported that Amaechi said that he loves using unsettling way in his political speech so that he would continue not to being untruthful to self, political self-censorship, battle against the truth and a contradiction of his owed favour for openness and accountability, he should embrace the fact that there is Public Diplomacy through Political Oratory. We have agreed that “true success does not come from doing or saying nothing, or avoiding annoying truths on friends nor is it about the fear of making mistakes” but there are still ways to say the TRUTH without offending anybody. This is called diplomacy.

Speeches at the Brandenburg Gate: Public Diplomacy through Political Oratory by John Poreba: “Political speech may achieve notoriety simply by virtue of the environment and political context into which it is delivered. Each speech attempted to convey its points through the timely inclusion of vivid imagery, logic, and, of course, symbolic and tangible backdrops (i.e., the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall).(George Bush’s “Bullhorn address” at Ground Zero following the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center is another example of how venue can amplify the impact of a speech. In response to a rescue worker’s shout, “I can’t hear you,” President Bush — although not particularly known for his eloquence — shouted back, “I can hear you! I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” The crowd erupted in cheers and patriotic chants).[x] Symbolism allows the speech to resonate long after it’s over. In 1963, Berlin provided such an environment for President Kennedy.”

Like the above suggested that Bush lacked eloquence, Amaechi lacked both eloquence and oratory, the effect is enhanced by taking whatever he said to be political authority without mere facts of diplomatic speech held by him; it could be said that he lacked also society aptitude but is well endowed by his addled individual aptitude for rhetoric and oratory. It is not good for any individual, let alone a public figure, to always say things in the manner of unofficial commentators commenting to an argument on the Internet. “Internet presents opportunities for, as well as threats to, our diplomats.” (Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt. Westminster Hall, 21 December 2010).

It is regrettable that in the last dispensation, Gov Amaechi called the non-indigenes in Rivers State “aliens”; a people who never put in a position that makes them vulnerable to reprisals of his. Amaechi said this because he wanted only 20 percent of the “aliens” in his government? But this statement is like Britain a Prime Minister can sign international treaties and take a country to war without a vote in Parliament. Amaechi didn’t consult his then slant House of Assembly if they would welcome the non-indigenes before his despicable comment.

It will do Amaechi good than harm if he puts about the public interest before he says anything in this second missionary journey. This will help to ensure for the public that his government is open, fair and democratic. His undiplomatic speeches have become not only annoying, but unfashionable and lazy. He should not always assume that anything done behind the curtain of democratic government is right, when they offend the psych of some people.

“Democrats must really be smart.” (Senator Kyl’s Speech Opposing CTBT. Disarmament Diplomacy, Issue No. 47, June 2000). Amaechi should always mind the cacophony of his undiplomatic voice that is like the WikiLeaks. He should think of alternative political intelligence. Amaechi should always learn the definition of Wikipedia of diplomacy, as the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states.

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