President Obasanjo’s Diplomatic Finesse; Unheralded In Nigeria!
Tuesday, 31 January 2006
President Obasanjo’s chairmanship of the African Union (AU) came to a close last week, after about two years of his stewardship of AU the new umbrella body for the continent of Africa, after the demise of its progenitor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU)
President Obasanjo’s leadership of the apex body for Africa witnessed remarkable improvements for our continent, as the AU doused many crises and it also engaged in new initiatives for the progress and development of African throughout our continent and even for Africans in the Diaspora.
AU under President Obasanjo’s leadership flowed with new ideas; Such new ideas or initiatives includes the New Economic Partnership or NEPAD, as well as dispute resolution that was robustly and vigorously pursued at the instance and direction of President Obasanjo, who frequently, at risk for his life, personal safety and convenience, pursued in resolute manner, all interests concerning Africa and Africans, be they political, economic, military or strategic.
Anyone who with eyes, ears and anyone who can read or reason must have seen, heard or read about the roles, played variously by President Obasanjo in the disparate crises that preceded his ascension to power in Nigeria, such as the crises of war and desolation that had ravaged Liberia for about 15 years, and the twin or sister brutal war and horrors that went on in Sierra Leone for about a decade as well. Ditto Sudan, Congo, Ivory Coast etc
During the period under consideration, President Obasanjo was saddled with dispute resolution in the quagmire left behind by the notorious tyrant Mobutu Sese Sekor in the Congo before Laurent Kabila and now, Joseph Kabila.
As these crises were being effectively managed, more seemed to have sprung up in rather very quick successions! There was the military coup in Sao Tome and Principe that was reversed solely due to the crisis management acumen of our president. There was the self-succession plot that fizzled in Eyaedema’s Togo and there is the intractable fractiousness of Ivory Coast, to which President Obasanjo had to personally intervene again, with a quick visit to Ivory Coast, just last week and only a few days before handing over the reins of AU to Nguesso Nguema
President Obasanjo has been super active in the demand for debt relief or debt cancellation for Africa and other developing countries of the entire world, and the said debts were cancelled or written off! These facts are not any less important, even though Nigeria did not directly benefit from the debt cancellation or debt relief efforts, as our creditors had obviously set different parameters in their determinations of what countries were able to repay such debt and what countries weren’t! Nigeria is solvent and awash with petrodollars said the London and Paris clubs of creditors and off we must go to pay our debts, they decreed!
Nevertheless, the achievement in the debt relief or debt forgiveness for Africa should be seen for what it is, a monumental feat, hitherto thought impossible! And the impossible became routine accomplishments during President Obasanjo’s stewardship at the African Union. President Obasanjo of Nigeria is respected and admired internationally
Correspondingly, however, our president is not popular in Nigeria! He continues to endure bad press, harshest of criticisms that best qualifies as destructive criticisms!
It is quite easy to discern the unmitigated hatreds that are directed at President Obasanjo by his political opponents, the bulk of those in the practice of journalism in Nigeria, and even some members of his political party, the PDP
The PDP has overwhelming majority in Nigeria’s current political arrangement and political fortunes; the PDP produced governors for 28 states out of 36 states in Nigeria? That ought to mean ease policy formulations and implementations, PDP is in majority and the other political parties are really not much of an opposition. They are in disarray!
The opposition parties in Nigeria at the present time are not vibrant and they have presented no meaningful opposition whatsoever! Our current opposition parties have presented no alternatives to current policies by government. The opposition do not have their house in order.
It was reasonable to expect therefore, in the circumstances, that the PDP would literally railroad and slam-dunk policies with little or no resistance, but the PDP have been bedeviled with intra party intra familial battles of the most useless types!
The PDP is in a position in Nigeria, or ought to be in a position to churn out policies and legislations etc, very easily, particularly in view of their super majority at all levels. The PDP controls the presidency, both houses Nigeria’s national assembly and an overwhelming majority of governors! So that if PDP had its house in order, it could literally make laws, rules, regulations and policies with practical effect of moving Nigeria to the direction that we all want, but that has not happen speedily
The PDP super-majority could effectively, metaphorically or even practically make rules that were capable of turning men into women in Nigeria, had the PDP had such manifestoes and focus!
But what do we have in Nigeria? The most corrupt governors are of the PDP, Alamiesegha, Dariye etc; the most corrupt federal ministers that have faced the law are PDP members! The disgraced former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun is a PDP member and all those who ensured the failure of the National Identity Card project were PDP henchmen, the most troubled states, Anambra, Oyo and Edo states are all presided over by PDP
In essence, those individuals who have embarrassed and betrayed the president are members of his own party the PDP.
Nigerians should demand accountability from governors and other local leaders, instead of the singular fixation at the presidency! Especially when the issues are purely local!
Some Nigerians have therefore argued that the buck stops with the president, especially if the individuals that he knew or thought he knew and trusted are the one making his sundry well intentioned policies ineffective or become outright failures! And when the president now demands absolute loyalty? He is heckled and booed by the same Nigerians who are demanding that he become more effective and successful policies wise!
When I think of President Obasanjo?s diplomatic finesse, Liberia comes to mind with the inauguration of President Sirleaf of Liberia, and I think of the peaceful resolution of the crises in Sierra Leone, and the stable situation that have come in the Congo, and the reversed coup in Sao Tome, the reversed attempt at self-succession in Togo, and the ongoing peaceful negotiations in Ivory Coast and Darfur in the Sudan, I also think of the gains of NEPAD and the debt relief efforts.
All these achievements and accomplishments were spearheaded by our indomitable President Obasanjo and yet, he does not get any respect, encomiums or accolades in Nigeria?
We should remember that he appointed Dr. Akinyuli, Professor Soludo, Mallam Ribadu, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, Mallam Rufai and all the other sundry overachievers in the current political stage in Nigeria. We will acknowledge all these, when President Obasanjo is 200 years old?
President Obasanjo has been a bulwark of success and the fulcrum of his drive is Nigeria and all of Africa, but he is most unfortunately under appreciated in Nigeria, hence he can be said to be the proverbial prophet without respect in his domain