A MEMBER of the House of Representatives, Mr. Wale Oke has finally told Nigerians why President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua headed to Saudi Arabia while the world was taking important decisions at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Nigerians who are getting used to their leaders craving irrelevance, and dragging the country down the line, had been told President Yar’Adua was not in New York because he had pressing engagements in Saudi Arabia like the opening of a new university. At the time the President was thus engaged, universities in Nigeria had been on strike for three months.

The annual gathering of Presidents and Heads of Government provide quicker access to striking international bargains that most countries use in driving their relations with each other. Countries that have realised the importance of these meetings do not joke with them. The UN, on its part because of the high number of Presidents and Heads of Government present, raise key issues that these politicians have to settle quickly, and lay the agenda for further meetings on related matters.

Mr. Oke, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Defence, said the President was angry on two scores and thought his absence from the UN General Assembly would be the best way to express his feelings.

The first was that US President Barack Obama chose Ghana over Nigeria in his first visit to Africa. Most Nigerians would be angry to know this was a sore point in Nigeria-US relations to the extent that the President would boycott the UN over it.

When this issue was hot, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, our sterling Minister of Foreign Affairs had told Nigerians that President Obama personally apologised to him in Rome and said he was planning a visit to Nigeria soon.

Has that position changed? What really would an Obama visit have offered Nigeria except for meeting the ambitions of those dying for the photo opportunities?

The other reason, according to Mr. Oke was that the decision to replace General Martin Luther Agwai, former Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff, as leader of the UN peace keeping force in Sudan, with a junior Rwandese officer was an unacceptable insult to the President.

Should the President not have complained to the UN?  How would the world know the depth of his hurt? Did he think UN meetings would stop because Nigeria’s President was absent?

Mr. Oke’s reasons make no sense in terms of the larger picture of the implications of the UN General Assembly for Nigerians. Who did the President consult before this curious decision?

It may also be important to know who offended the President last year when the UN Secretary General had to cancel a meeting scheduled with President Paul Biya of Cameroun on Bakassi. Our President was absent and gave no reason.

Nigerians are appalled at the inaction that has descended on the Presidency, it is indefensible, it is more insulting to offer bland explanations for it.


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