“The way to get on in the world is to be neither more nor less wise, neither better nor worse than your neighbours”. – William Hazlitt
“Only mediocrity can be trusted to be always at its best”. – Max Beerbohm
While Chief Ojo Maduekwe’s statement is very commendable, we should look beyond mere rhetoric, as all our leaders and representatives have been posturing over the decades. The problem is that most of them do not mean what they say, and neither do they practice what they preach, not only to their fellow Nigerians, but also to the world in general. In most cases, our rulers come up with great ideas and words to that effect and espouse seemingly noble causes that will make the country’s image, and indeed, the lives of their people better, but end up not doing anything at all. Of course, Nigerians are used to this, but it is our sincere hope that this will not the same way as things have been going since independence.
On the face of it, I quite agree with Maduekwe’s new diplomatic policy – that is, encouraging other countries to promote the positive aspects of
However, charity begins at home, so they say and should apply. What the Honourable Minister, and the rest of the Nigerian Government should be applying their energy and efforts to, is contributing to this new image by exorcising the devil in their own midst. The fact remains that corruption is still endemic in
Another instance is the shenanigan of the Speaker of the House, Patricia Etteh, a former hair-dresser, who has proved to us that what a Nigerian man can do in terms of corruption, a Nigerian woman can surely do better. Her silence has been deafening on this issue of the house renovation contract scam. If the Number 4 citizen of
With several corrupt former Governors still parading themselves imperiously on the streets of Abuja, still on the beck and call of the President, and appear seemingly untouchable, it will be hard to convince the world that we are still waging this war against corruption in government in earnest and with sincerity of purpose. And this renders Ojo Maduekwe’s utterances useless, and unfortunately irrelevant.
Chief Maduekwe explained further: “Our foreign policy has come of age and the age of innocence is over. We remain proud of our track record right from Tafawa Balewa up till now. The country that has the largest black nation in the world could not have done otherwise. A world where every six black man is a Nigerian could not have done otherwise, or where every four Africans is a Nigerian could not have done otherwise. We should ask ourselves some hard questions: to what extents has our foreign policy benefited Nigerians? To what extent has our foreign policy put food on our tables? In other words, where is the citizen in our foreign policy?”
The man is somehow asking the right questions and making the right noises, however, it is unfortunate that he is talking about “track records”. This is arrant nonsense and double speaks. There is no track record to be proud of. Successive Nigerian governments have nothing to be proud of in terms of promoting positive image of
How helpful have Nigerian foreign missions all over the world been towards Nigerians living abroad, for instance? There are too many instances of neglect to be mentioned, but it is all the same sad stories. Nigerian diplomats have never taken care of either our image or the Nigerians living abroad. In fact, coming to think of it, in generality, how helpful have Nigerian governments been to even Nigerians living in
We are very high and famous on good intentions, but low on implementations. The former Education Minister, Tunde Adeniran himself, presenting a book; what was his achievement as the education minister during Obasanjo’s administration? What positive changes did he bring about in the education sector during his tenure that warrants him writing a book?
Despite all these, we are glad to know that at least a Nigerian Government is starting to take note and make moves to address the problems of
So in a way, I agree with the words of Ojo Maduekwe, to the effect that it is an obvious fact that Nigerians are perceived in several ways, – in a negative light – more often than not. However, there is an urgent need to do a lot more, rather than wait for that ‘someone’ or ‘the government’ or ‘the society’ to heal the wounds that we all carry around – our cultural identity as “Nigerian”.
All over the world, it is a known fact that one out of every black person is a Nigerian and every four African is a Nigerian. Our duties towards redeeming the image of the black race is beyond what lip-service can do. A little bit from each and everyone of us counts. Standing out of the crowd for something good, can, and will surely make a difference. We have to start a sharing of responsibilities, positive values and accomplishments, a projection in the positive light – of our heroes past and present and the accomplishments and the potentials of our fatherland. It is time for a positive change.
As our Foreign Minister himself posited,
In a country where a convicted ex-governor can return to his home state and be given a hero’s welcome, where the same convict has the ear of the President of the country as to what to be done with the Niger Delta problem as a “consultant” and who threw a multi-million Naira, well-attended party to entertain important guests on his daughter’s wedding, it does not bode well for, nor confer any legitimacy or sincerity on Maduekwe’s and the Government of Nigeria’s position on citizenship diplomacy. It is sending out the wrong signals from this government to the world that they want to impress. The government of
More action, less rhetoric.