KOJO ANNAN’S INDISCRETION MAY HAVE HURT HIS FATHER, BUT HIS GENERATION THINK AND BEHAVE THE SAME WAY
The Scriptures tell us the sins of the father shall be visited on their children up to the fourth generation. That was then. We now know that the sins or the indiscretion of the son is sometimes visited on the parents in very profound ways. Those who now link the indiscretion or the poor judgment of Kojo Annan to his father, the Secretary-general of the United Nations may have parted ways with the Scriptures for once, and it is remarkable that most of them are all conservative ideologues indicting Kofi Annan for the indiscretion of his son. Some of them are Bible reading evangelicals who like Rev. Bush and Rev. Falwell are ever so proud to wear their faith on their sleeve, every where they go, making the rest of us look like we are anti Christ and anti God. They had successfully used that tactic to gain the upper hand in the last Elections despite their own transgressions which are far more serious and costly, in my judgment, than what some of them now want Kofi Annan to be crucified for.
My argument here is that such indiscretion of a son does not, and must not rise to the level of asking his father to resign his job, even before the allegation has been fully investigated. The Volcker Investigation which is under way, is to determine the seriousness of the allegation made against the Secretary-general, and whether or not Kofi Annan, as the father of Kojo and the big boss at the UN, was really culpable, or whether or not he had knowingly aided and abetted his son’s presumptuous sweetheart deals with a company doing business with the United Nations. In making their case, however, Kofi Annan’s detractors would appear to forget that Kofi Annan was never a Chief Executive comparable to the role of a President and Commander-in-Chief in America or else where in most of the democratic States around the world. Not even close.
The Security Council plays the collective role of the Chief Executive at the UN, and it was specially designed that way, because the body was not yet prepared to elect or appoint the President of the World, and no other Secretary-general, in recent memory, has understood that prism and epitomized it in his day-to-day activities, and the way and manner he carries himself and the way he expresses or projects himself at every opportunity. He is the consummate Diplomat who, at every opportunity, has avoided being tagged as the Lord of the Manor, because he understands his role very well, and has no illusions about his constitutional limitations as Secretary-general and as the servant of the Security Council and the General Assembly.
The overzealous Senator from Minnesota should have demanded the entire resignation of the Security Council which includes the United States for their failure in closely supervising the Food for Oil program, and putting in the necessary check and balances to ensure that a Dictator, but a legitimate Head of Government like Saddam Hussein, at the time did not find his way around it siphoning all the money into his private pocket. The United States and Russia have had a longer history of dealing with Saddam, and should have known better. Putting the whole blame on Kofi Annan was a travesty of justice if the truth must be told. Come on now. The Secretary-general can advise the Security Council. He does not impose his views on the Security Council. Period. But he Norm Coleman had chosen to go after the servant while sparing the big boss at the United Nations. We would probably have more to say on that when we know the outcome of the Paul Volcker investigations. Paul Volcker is a no nonsense professional highly respected around the world for his integrity. I can hardly wait to read his report. Now back to Kojo and his poor judgment on putting his father on the spot and tarnishing his squeaky clean record so far.
I can tell you from personal experience that most children, around the world, would do what Kojo has done without necessarily taking their fathers into confidence, or sharing needed information with them on the minute details of their business deals. It is even more so, when such children are over 18, and are therefore considered as independent adults in their own right, even by African standards.
If any one must have a good understanding of what we are talking about here, I submit that President Bush himself has to be that person. Before he became President, he was campaign manager to his father’s successful bid for the White House in his days as Vice President to Ronald Reagan. It goes without saying that George W. as a first son, and as a highly valued and beloved son of Barbara and George Snr, certainly must have used his father’s influence, connection and visibility, first of all to gain admission to Yale University and later on to Harvard Business School. He probably used the same connection, as we were told during the last Election campaign, to avoid going to Vietnam which I perfectly understand as a father to a Naval officer who had served for a short time in Iraq. I could have done anything to stop my son from going to Iraq, if I had the leverage I might also add that the President’s short time involvement in Oil Business and his ability to buy and sponsor a Base Ball Team were all linked, one way or the other, to the fact that his father was President of the United States at the time, and was once an Oil magnate in Texas. The President sure had some talents of his own, but his perception and recognition as the President’s son had helped rather than handicapped him, if you can believe that. His cozy business relationship with the House of Saud, and his early involvement with the Osama Bin Laden’s family were all linked to his father’s long time association with the Oil Business moguls in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, a point that is very well known and documented, and therefore needs no repetition here.
It therefore beats my imagination that George W. would therefore support the call by Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota, that Kofi Annan must resign his job at the UN, simply because his son may have used his name and connection to get some favors in high places, and because of other unsubstantiated charges. I am sure the very moralistic President that George Bush professes to be, cannot, in good conscience, do that without having some sleepless nights, because his entire life is riddled with similar favors by people and organizations that are fully aware of his position as a child of privilege. As a matter of fact, he had managed to emerge as the candidate for the Governorship of Texas and later as the Republican candidate for the Presidency in 2000, partly because he knew how to tap into the reservoir of goodwill his father and Barbara had built over the years.
I am not knocking George Bush Jnr. for pulling those levers, because I would do the same, if I were in his shoes. His initial stance on the Kofi Annan saga was noncommittal and disappointing. He was neither for nor against the call for Kofi Annan’s resignation. But the Press Conference held later by the US Permanent Representative at the UN, former Senator Danforth, one of the ablest and most forthright Americans, you will ever know, had cleared all of my doubts. The current US Administration still has confidence in Kofi Annan, and was not calling for his resignation as previously implied or insinuated. The US Administration had merely supported the ongoing investigation initiated by Kofi Annan himself, and would await its findings before rushing to judgment.
That ought to be the correct role and stance of the preeminent leader of the Free World and the only remaining super power and clearly the leading nation in the world today. When a nation is as powerful and as uniquely qualified and blessed as the United States, she cannot afford to flaunt her powers and make other member nations nervous about their own safety and security.
North Korea and Iran and all other nations have cause to be envious of the United States and few other countries with nuclear power and nuclear capabilities. Having nuclear capability and power is always a major deterrence for other nations which might be planning to attack you, because they all realize you might use it, if provoked, or in self defense. Very few nations go to war, if they are not sure of victory or if they think, the outcome is going to cost too much in men and materials and other collateral damages. That is why the US and the West cannot mess around with North Korea, at this point in time, because North Korea may respond in kind, and the US and her allies cannot guarantee the outcome of such foolhardiness on their part. That is simple common sense.
Not to lose my focus the central theme of this article is the indiscretion of Kojo Annan that may have hurt his father’s credibility and reputation as the best African born Secretary-general, if not among the very best in UN history. I submit that Kojo Annan belongs to the group I call the mumsy/popsy generation. This generation refers to their mum and dad as momsy and popsy, and they are damn crazy and self-centered, if my experience is anything to go by. I don’t know about you. The present generation of children of today are quite different from our own generation in the way and manner we defer to our parents. Most of them, not all, only think of themselves and what they want out of life. Majority of them can care less about how their behavior impacts their parents credibility and reputation. I can clearly see from a CNN report relayed from Lagos, Nigeria on Kojo and his views on his father’s predicament. You just know the guy does not appear to fully appreciate the seriousness of his indiscretion to his father’s reputation. It was clear to me he must have acted on his own as an adult, and most certainly did not think for a moment about how his work for any agent of the UN might have been perceived by a third party and much of the outside world. Kofi Annan, the father is just too seasoned an international civil servant, in my judgment, to condone such a behavior, if he had prior knowledge of it.
I talk of the outside world because the way Africans view the word “nepotism” is not exactly the same way, the white world views it. I cannot now recall how many wives and children of our current Nigerian President may have used their connection to Obasanjo to open so many doors, they, otherwise, should not have been able to open. I cannot recall the number of Federal contracts, including Telephone GSM contracts and State Government contracts, many of them have been able to secure because of their last names and their blood relationship to the President. I think the late Barkin Zuwo, the ex-Governor of Kaduna State in Nigeria had brilliantly captured the attitude of most Africans and Nigerians to the issue of Nepotism and Corruption in our society. A house search was once conducted in the Governor’s Mansion in Kaduna while Barkin Zuwo was the Governor. So many bags of local and foreign currencies that should have been deposited in the Banks, were found under the Governor’s bed and in many of the closets in the Mansion.
The CID team that made the discovery were astounded, but the Governor was not fazed. He later called a Press Conference wondering where else could the CID men expect to find so much Government money, if not in the Governor’s Mansion. He was acting in the same mindset as Louis the XIV of France when he made his famous statement “L’Etat c’est moi” “I am the State. My word carries the force of Law”. Most Africans once they get to power or if any of their relations get to power, see the development as a huge window of opportunity to use their names to get by. Kojo Annan may well have fallen into that group for all you know.
The leaders themselves believe the same thing hence they encourage their children or relations to just mention their names any where they go. If they want to be a little bit meticulous, they give their relations their complimentary card to give to anyone in a position to help them. Sometimes, the leaders write at the back of the card. “Please help.” They don’t even have to sign the card. The people who receive the cards know what that is supposed to mean, and they often oblige without any question, and the practice is not considered egregious or corrupt in the African society. It is part of the perquisites of office in our own part of the world. I can only hope that Kofi Annan did not have to give his complimentary card to his son for the same purpose. I know of officers in the Federal Public Service of Nigeria, in my days, who used to file such complimentary cards or hand written notes even if it was written on toilet paper. They do that, just to cover their behind, as they say in America.
If that is indeed the case, the Paul Volcker’s investigation might come up with things like that, if it has ever happened. I am sure it did not, And if it did, let the chips fall where they may. But until that happens, and the report confirms it, it will be jumping the gun to believe that Kofi Annan was guilty as alleged or insinuated. I would at least wait till the report is out, and so should Norm Coleman and his band of conservative hatchet men including Saffire who have already concluded that Kofi Annan was guilty as rumored, even before the investigation is concluded.
I would only want to end this piece with a word of advice to the momsy and popsy generation of children like Kojo who only think of themselves, and think very little of how their behavior in public might be interpreted or misconstrued to damage the reputation and credibility that their poor parents have labored so hard to build up over the years. My heart goes out to Kofi Annan who evidently loves his son as a good father should be, but have little control over what his child does as a fully grown adult. I am also thankful to the rest of the world and belatedly to President Bush for allowing wiser counsel to prevail on the Kofi Annan and the Oil for Food Scandal in Iraq that seeks to put a Nobel Peace Laureate of a Secretary General in the same spider hole or trench with the Butcher of Baghdad. That was so sad, and the world must not allow a reoccurrence of that anywhere in the world.
I rest my case.
Dr. Wunmi Akintide.