By Emeka Mamah
Kaduna â€” The Na-tional Union of Textile Workers and Tailoring Union of Nigeria has asked President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua to explain to Nigerians why he preferred to travel to Saudi Arabia instead of the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations where he could have lobbied for the countryâ€™s seat in the UN.
The union also queried the rationale behind President Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s decision to drown the voices of over 140 million Nigerians on the international arena for small African countries against the backdrop of the countries’ huge expenditure on peace keeping missions all over the world. This was contained in a statement issued by the General Secretary of the union, Comrade Issa Aremu.
Aremu is also the national Vice-Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
According to Comrade Aremu, it was regrettable that President Yarâ€™Adua abandoned his mandate to Nigerians and delegated theForeign Affairs Minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe who istead of representing the country well, decided to wash her dirty linens on the Independent National Electoral Commissionâ€™s poor conduct of the 2007 general election.
The statement reads in part: â€œThe crisis of governance under President Musa Yarâ€™ Adua is taking its toll on Nigeriaâ€™s foreign policy. The earlier the President re-assures Nigerians that 140 million Africans who populate this great country have the necessary voice that must be heard clear and loud in global arena the better.
â€œThe President was absent at the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations this year. Nigeria is fast becoming an addictive absentee nation in the comity of nations in recent times.
â€œYarâ€™ Adua was reportedly represented by proxy in an assembly in which global elected leaders of both developed and developing nations compete for space and audience.â€
â€œThe agenda for this yearâ€™s Assembly include global economic recovery, climate change, declaration of commitment on the HIVs/AIDS, roll back malaria in developing countries (Africa in particular), international trade and development, nuclear arms proliferation among others.
â€œIt is a national scandal that Nigeriaâ€™s position is not known on all these critical global success factors. On the contrary, Minister Maduekwe ridiculed foreign policy discourse when he inundated international community with Nigeriaâ€™s domestic political mess manifested by the controversy over the re- appointment of Maurice Iwu, INEC chairman.
â€œUndoubtedly foreign policy mirrors domestic policy, but the Nigeriaâ€™s latest variant of the absurd is unparallel in contemporary international relations.
â€œThe point cannot be overstated: Nigerians did not vote for an unelected proxy Minister like Minister Maduekwe to speak for Nigerians at global arena. It is therefore uncharitable and indeed unaccountable for Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s administration to so casually deregulate an important segment of good governance: foreign policy.
â€œPresident Yar Aduaâ€™s absence at the UN raises the noise level of the increasing self-inflicted marginalization of the country in international arena. The country is regrettably sliding back into an insular pariah state with respect to international relations.
â€œThe President must urgently reassure Nigerians that his presidency would not silence Nigeriaâ€™s historically tested voices in international arena. And the time to do this is NOW: at 49th Independence Anniversary!
â€œWe cannot be counted as a serious contender for a seat on the Security Council when we inadvertently suck in into self imposed isolation and leave the centre stage diplomacy for corner and token diplomacy as dramatized by the Presidentâ€™s ill informed visit to Saudi Arabia.
â€œA photo picture in Ryhad is certainly NOT a substitute for Nigeriaâ€™s representation at the General Assembly of the UN in New York.
â€œFor many developing countries, the UN is the source of much of their diplomatic influence. UN is the principal outlet for foreign relations initiatives. For better, for worse we saw how countries of equal status like Nigeria, namely China, Iran, and South Africa made their impact at the 64th General Assembly.
â€œThe pre-eminence of smaller Republics like Libya speaking for Africa in a rather clumsy and self serving disastrous manner (as Kaddafi did!), underscores the failure of leadership on the part Nigeria, the largest and the most resourceful in the continent.
â€œSerial absence at the general assembly means Nigeria is denied the most cost effective global arena for global engagement. This is simply intolerable and clearly unacceptable.
â€œAbout 49 years after independence, Nigeria has never had it so uneventful in terms of foreign policy activism.
â€œEven the so-called â€œlow-keyed conservativeâ€ first decade after independence witnessed significant enduring foreign policy initiatives.
It was under Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa that Nigeria championed the expulsion of racist South Africa from the Commonwealth, abrogated Anglo-Nigerian defence pact and severed diplomatic relations with France for daring to ignore Nigeriaâ€™s warnings on her despicable atomic tests in the Sahara desert.
â€œTafawa Balewa would also be credited with skilful diplomacy which led to the formation of Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) in 1963. Even as late as the Second Republic democratic NigeriaÂ was reputed for activist diplomacy which made Nigeria a proud frontline state in the battle against apartheid and which led to serial independence of Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia.
â€œOnly the period of â€œbruised and withdrawn periodâ€ of the Nigeriaâ€™s unfortunate civil war has Nigeria been noted for inactivity in foreign policy initiatives as in present time.