Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Ambassador’s Refusal to Meet the Union Caretaker Committee

So the new Nigerian Ambassador to Hungary, Mrs Adeola Adebisi Obileye, refused to meet with the Nigerian Union Caretaker Committee. To tell the truth, I am not surprised at our Madam’s decision, after all, the position is a sacred one. Only a gullible Nigerian would be so ignorant of the fact that our public officials have gradually switched the aphorism civil servant to civil master.

Even the former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, systematically turned himself to God during his eight-year rule marked by unjust severity and arbitrary behaviour. Sarcasm apart, is our Madam right or not? Follow me down the path where you and I must discard sentiment for proper reasoning.

Before I go in perspective, I would like to point out that I intend to be balanced and objective as much as I could. Hum, here we go again; hiding under objectivity to perpetrate crime of subjectivity. Don’t be fooled, for objectivity sometimes means act of subjectivity. See, I am on the horns of a dilemma, precisely the same dilemma which has always disquieted me.

I am going to deal with the Ambassador’s justification for not meeting with the Caretaker Committee. I would try to highlight the reasons as well as proffer solutions. Since the 2nd Secretary, Ms Abimbola Aiyenuro, insisted that a protocol had to be followed, let’s reason together. I would have imagined a situation like this:

The Ambassador could not meet with riffraff. Go and table whatever problems facing you before my able and competent Head of Chancery. He will alleviate your acute mental or physical pain and if he couldn’t, make you carry your wahala go back Nigeria. What are you doing here anyway? You just dey spoil our country name. I beg commot make I see road o jare.

By not passing through the appropriate authority, the C.T.C may have transgressed, which the Embassy abominated. The Head of the Chancery may also have been angered along the way. The man has been here for a while as the head of the mission in the absence of the Ambassador, no one booked an appointment with him; then suddenly the problem became so urgent to meet with the new Ambassador!

Does it mean that the C.T.C would never have tabled the issues unless there’s an Ambassador? It’s what I was saying when I suggested that the C.T.C should tarry a little before meeting with the Ambassador. I had argued it was too early, even unnecessary for now. But I was accused of criticizing the Committee. It should not be lost on us that most Nigerian diplomats are here for Nigeria and not for Nigerians, an attitude antithetical to my beliefs.

I hope the C.T.C has learned a valuable lesson. It is impossible to beat the diplomats in this diplomatic game. This is the main reason I had alerted the C.T.C to trudge with caution. I wonder why the experienced member of the Committee didn’t propose the fineness way to go about it. Perhaps consultation with the former executives would have done the magic.

Dr Husain Omar who had worked at the same Embassy for example, should have enlightened the other members about the significance of diplomatic protocol. Public officials cherish it like my seven-month-old boy breast feeding. In my humble opinion earlier communicated, I had stated that it would have been better if the Committee allowed the Ambassador herself to initiate such meeting. Better still, the Committee should have had her address the Nigerian Community as a whole. But no one listened to a small voice of "dissent".

There’s no doubt the fact that the issues tabled before the Embassy are monumental, and I had written about them somewhere else. Standard Machine Readable Passports (MRP) if procured will definitely solve the problem of proxy passports in Hungary which is tarnishing the country’s image every now and then. It’s quite unfortunate that Nigerians must travel to Nigeria or neighbouring country before obtaining a Nigerian passport.

Likewise the verification and authentication of Nigerian documents. I think the C.T.C asks the right question: "how come we have an Embassy in Budapest and all documents concerning Nigerians have to be authenticated in Abuja?" I shall deal with this in my next article. Consular Day for Nigerians is not a bad idea either which if accepted will be a sign of respect for Naija citizens in Hungary. However, I do not share the sentiment that Nigerian Embassy needs Nigerians.

The C.T.C did make a few general observations though, especially "that the Nigerian Embassy has a very negative impression of Nigerian resident in Hungary". I would add that it’s an open secret that Nigerian Embassies all over the world do not respect its citizens. How would they when the lies we often told have reached their desk. And how do you expect them to even respect the Nigerian Union in Hungary when certain former executives have been caught in the web of shoddiness and, or ostentatiousness.

Meanwhile, I quite understand the C.T.C’s frustration. I mean if the Ambassador had agreed to meet with them, why renegade on her promise? But then her responsibility as the Ambassador is to delegate authority. Isn’t it? Hum, diplomacy palaver. Whatever the case may be, I prefer a "symbiotic working relationship" rather than a "master servant relationship".

Finally, as we await the feedback from the Embassy, let me part with this: leadership, says former Turkish President, is not about being nice but about doing the right thing. I trust both parties would not be swayed by the sentiment they represent.

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