Monday, January 25, 2010

Ojo Maduekwe is Nigeria's Minister of Foreign Affairs. Like other Nigerian government officials who have the fortune/misfortune of an audience, he can be very interesting to listen to. Maduekwe is notorious for publicly stating that the unfortunate 'child witches of Akwa Ibom' were frauds, paid to put on a show. He once famously and incredulously claimed that there were no homosexuals in Nigeria, an assertion that only one man has ever been able to make in the recent past - Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And, right before the Abdulmutallab suicide bomb attempt that has created a diplomatic problem for Nigeria, Ojo Maduekwe defended the  N2.7 billion he spent solely on travel by claiming Nigeria needed the "visibility" that his many foreign trips afforded the nation.

And now, in an apparent quest to live up to his new nickname,"Mr. Visibility", Ojo Maduekwe is taking to the airwaves to do some damage control almost a month since Abdulmutallab's attempt, Nigeria's inclusion on the "Terror Prone" countries list and over 2 months since Nigeria's President was last seen alive. Specifically, Mr. Visibility was interviewed on BBC's Hardtalk.

It must be said that during scandals of international proportion, a swift offensive response is always the best defense. Abdulmutallab's suicide bomb attempt occurred on December 25th, 2009. Nigeria was publicly placed on the "Terror Prone" list ten days later on January 3rd. As the Foreign Minister, and considering the President's 'absence', Maduekwe would have done well to start giving interviews earlier than mid-January. After all, Dora Akunyili, Nigeria's Minister of  Information was on many a show, expressing her disappointment and frustration, sometimes a little too forcefully, but clearly nonetheless. Yet, it is a good thing that finally, a high ranking official sat down to answer questions about what exactly, if anything, is going on in Nigeria's hallways of power. It is regrettable that just like his boss, he chose to give that first long interview to a foreign news outlet - a significant miscalculation that should not be easily forgiven.
"Without being immodest about it, when this President chose ... his Foreign Minister, he chose a Minister who has had considerable experience in government. Ten years, consistently. This is my third outing as a minister. So the important thing is to understand the President's policy, his vision, his goals...And he believes this Foreign Minister understands what those visions are..."
                            - Ojo Maduekwe on BBC Hardtalk (January 21, 2010).

Although Maduekwe was able to dodge a few direct questions, he did not do as well as he should have considering the serious situation Nigeria and its citizens are presently in. Admitting that he is yet to speak with President Yar'Adua, who many believe is no longer alive despite a  phone interview with him, was the death knell that discredited everything else he had to offer. No matter what Maduekwe thinks and/or wants the viewing audience to think, a Minister cannot replace a President, not even if their brains are synced to each other. Maduekwe's proclamation that he knows the wishes of Nigeria's missing President, despite said President's absence and lack of communication, came across as aloof, inexperienced and pompous.
"The more dignifying thing to do is to ... ensure that his absence is not, in any way, putting the momentum of government's activities at a low ebb..."
                              - Ojo Maduekwe on BBC Hardtalk (January 21, 2010).

Maduekwe's attempt to deflect questions on the lack of transparency regarding Yar'Adua's condition was infantile. His apparent conviction that the President's disappearance and lack of communication was "not unusual in history" illustrate that he no longer is suited for any form of public office. It is unacceptable to claim that one is doing better than before when one is doing miserably and that simply because one is doing better than before, they should not be expected to do more. These basic tenets go for Nigeria, its president, its government and mouthpieces, as well.

When the interviewer attacked with a statement that there was a failure of intelligence in Nigeria with regard to Abdulmutallab, Maduekwe failed miserably. There was no need for the long winded response about "collective responsibility" on his part. A simple answer pointing out that Abdulmutallab was introduced to radical Islamic thought in the United Kingdom and specifically at the United College of London, an institution very familiar to the London-headquartered BBC and many of its viewers would have sufficed. Adding to that, the fact that Abdulmutallab was trained in Yemen by terrorists released from Guantanamo Bay by US former President George W. Bush would have been enough to pivot from such a loaded and biased question. Plus, a comment about how American officials had information on the matter that they did not share with Nigeria would have been a crucial tool to create a diversion in the line of questioning by illustrating that Nigeria, America's ally, was erroneously left out of the loop. Maduekwe could have thrown in the fact that in the last few years many admitted and captured terrorists were countrymen of the interviewer and many of his British peers, not Nigerian. He did, however, note that the airport in Amsterdam failed to use adequate devices that would have caught Abdulmutallab's bomb-laced knickers.

Despite all this, Maduekwe did emit a quotable notable - "facts are sacred, opinions are free." One can only hope he will remember that statement as it will undoubtedly haunt him. But, his comment that he would not have encouraged President Yar'Adua to discuss the diplomatic problems with his counterpart in the White House is frankly disturbing. That he is a minister with at least 10 years experience in government and that he is currently a Foreign Minister fuels the 'lack of vision'-argument that President Yar'Adua has been consistently accused of. Diplomacy and the very history Maduekwe oft quoted, has procedures and precedent for situations such as when a Nigerian citizen was found to be a terrorist. Diplomacy requires that President Yar'Adua communicate immediately with the American President to convince him/her that Nigeria's President, not a Vice President (with little executive power) or a Minister (no matter how 'experienced') takes the matter of terrorism seriously and will work tirelessly as a partner in investigating and preventing a possible repeat. But, alas, Nigeria's President remains absent during these times of confusion and so, the Minister of Information can make statements that only serve to deepen the growing diplomatic rift. And, the Minister of Foreign Affairs appears before the foreign press and does not do as well as he should have.

From the Archives:
- Nigeria's President Absent During Crisis
- Nigeria Placed on "Terror Prone" List
- African Travel Post Abdulmutallab
- A Nigerian Terrorist & A People's Passivity
- 'Is Nigeria A Breeding Ground For Terrorism' (May 2007)
- America Speaks...Does Nigeria Respond?
- How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot With Al Qaeda
- More Yar'Adua Health Uncertainty
- Yar'Adua Health, Resignation & Nigerian Cost
- Yar'Adua And The Continuing Heath Issue
- The Consequences of Yar'Adua's Mysterious Health

If you enjoyed this article, please use the tools below to DIGG it, share this post on your favorite social networking site and/or bookmark it. Thank you.
AddThis Feed Button


20 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Seyi said...

@SSD, thanks for this piece.

I thought about writing on the same issue, but I didn't even know where to start. I was perhaps overwhelmed by Ojo Maduekwe's display of madness.

I will describe Ojo Maduekwe in one word - buffoon!

Maduekwe, Akunyili and Aondoakaa will be remembered as the biggest clowns of Yar'Adua's administration



sokari said...

The man like many Nigerian politicans is weak which is why they act like bullies. Sorry but this guy is a shame - as you say he picks up on some points re the bomber this is let down by following it through. Its the difference between a top striker and one who is in the 1st or 2nd division - they can run with the ball maybe even do a bit of tackling but they cannot finish it off and score the goal.

N.I.M.M.O said...

Thanks for this video. I'd been under the weather and did not see the interview realtime but suffice to say that Ojo did not disappoint with his ususal verbose emptiness.

Ten years experience as Minister? Sometimes, your experience actually becomes a liability. Ojo was minister under Abacha, I believe and I know as a fact that self-respecting people like Jakande do not even refer to that embarassing period of their lives again.

He even claims to have literally synchronized his brain with that of the President; a President he has not spoken with in almost 3 months. A foreign minister should have a direct line to the President 24/7!

Seriously, we have a problem.

Sarah Bude said...

I read and understand your article and some of the comments posted. I think Ojo Maduekwe is a brave man. Though some of his actions are quite disappointing and "bad", i admire his guts. Facing millions of people who doesn't like his way of "politics", still he is standing strong despite all the controversies. That is only the thing i admire about him.

joicee said...

Thank you for this video...now atleast we know the type of governmenbt we are dealing with here...where the foreign minster has not been has not spoken to the presidednt in two months...and the president has not given any official statement regarding the christmas day incident.

I have a gut feeling that sadly Nigeria's name on that terror list is there to stay,....It does not help matters that the poeple are still being killed in the underlying name of religion(jos riots).

Don't you just love it when he interjects his speech with references to Almighty God and so on...hehehe

Anonymous said...

I´ve watched the video..It was indeed very cringeworthy, my opinion..Ojo Madueke on HARDtalk=epic fail!

- Ekinem R. E. from Facebook

Anonymous said...

He makes a valid point or two but his presentation is comical. I'm actually shocked that a guy of that percievable interlect would get that far in a nation as grand as Nigeria. Clearly not a front office guy.

The points he makes about blanket hostility to their efforts regardless of their achievments muct be accepted as fact. I would call him an apolohgist for Nigerian messiness but he is part of the problem.

- Nelson A. from Facebook

Anonymous said...

He needs to think before he states, no wonder people dislike him.

Hopefully you'll also check out my fresh new blog- designed by me of course :: follow http://urbansplasher.blogspot.com or click on my name.

Mola OG said...

He is a bloody politician and you can see through his BS.. The guy is pissing me off...

Mad Nigerian said...

SSD, you dont want to get me going. You don't want to hear what i have to say about him

Anonymous said...

IMO he was better in his responses than the Information minister who was just blabbing when the incident happened. Would you believe she said that he "sneaked" into the country?

- T. A. from Facebook

Anonymous said...

Shuuuo! Was he afraid he was going to fuel controversies if he mis-spoke about some issues? Whatever was up with him, it most def ain't helping any matters. See how he's talking as if he doesn't know what's going on.

Dee! said...

The guy is just a "talk talk" minister! Talking anyhow is in him. Thank God that not all Nigerians can be brain washed like they think! Nonsense!

Jennifer A. said...

It is just insane that the president is still absent in the midst of this chaos. I agree that Mr. Ojo could have easily diverted the suicide bombing to Yemen rather than carry the blame on the head of the Country...that would have been an easy diversion. He should have grabbed the opportunity...but then again, no matter what he said on the interview, I have to admit that it must not have been easy for him to represent, seeing as Nigeria has been in a lot of trouble lately. Kudos to him, and I hope the rep of the country can be salvaged soon.

The Activist said...

Is Ojo serious? Did Yar'adua hand over to anyone? Bullshit!!! They are all failure joo

Mrs Sweetwater said...

OOOO wait.. No He Diddddnnnnn't..
does he realize he is not invisible and people know about his stuff too ?

wowwww, and that hat - please, (side eye and necktwist)

fngcenter said...

Nigeria is Blessed. Let us work together to make our country great

Anonymous said...

When the journalist spoke of being asked for a bribe and the foriegn minister responded "did you report it". In my head, I was thinking 'for what? The guy he is reporting to is almost certain to ask him for a bribe to investigate it too'. Picture it: "well Mr Whiteman Sir, bribary is a big problem in Nigeria and as you can see we are determined to clamp down on it. You can assist this endevour by buying my lunch for me. My lunch usually costs $20. In US$ too.'

- Nelson A. from facebook

Anonymous said...

Hey I watched the interview.
I think Madueke held himself firmly from the attacks showered by the reporter. As yardy cabinet menister i was not expecting anything different from him.
As for those who think the guy made a fool of himself, well you are free to think so. I for one saw his courage in fending off the white boy whopse was clearly to put madueke off balance.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, interesting, however, sometimes i think we give (or expect) too much (credit) from our leaders. Incompetence can simply not be downplayed by prominence, years of service (not necessary experience), age and the likes.

As such, what we should champion now ought to be intellectual (& educative) competence and not political (& or social) pedigree.

Post a Comment

Get curious...share your thoughts, long and short. But, do remain civil.