Despite leaving Nigeria early for the funeral of late South African leader, Nelson Mandela, President Goodluck Jonathan has been snubbed by the South African authorities at the State Memorial Service of the anti-apartheid leader.
An official release of programmes during the memorial service shows that the Nigerian president was missing on the list of world leaders billed to give tributes. The world leaders who will be giving tributes are, United State President, Barack Obama; President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil; Vice-President Li Yuanchao of China; President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia; President Pranab Mukherjee of India; and President Raúl Castro Ruz of Cuba.
Other leaders billed to give tributes are the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon; and the African Union Commission Chair, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
Though Mr. Jonathan is not the only head of state that would not give tribute- there are about 90 heads of state attending the funeral, the apparent snub handed Mr. Jonathan also appears to rubbish the enormous effort played by Nigeria to bring an end to apartheid in South Africa at a time when Western governments were pussyfooting to pressure the apartheid government to renounce its policy of segregation and its brutal abuses against the black majority. Some Western governments including the U.S. had even designated the ruling Africa National Congress (ANC) as a terrorist organisation, and Mandela a terrorist.
This point was also highlighted by the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, on Monday in a chat with journalists.
“There are more questions to answer. When you look at the part of the world where ovation is now the loudest, it was the part of the world the pain was the most vicious. In a very cruel irony, history is being revised.
“The people, who collaborated with the government that enthroned apartheid at that time, are the people that are paying the biggest tributes now. But I ask myself: is this not the time for deep reflection? I doubt if any African country expended as much time, as much money and as much commitment as the Nigerian Government.
“I was a teenager then in 1976 when anti-apartheid campaign really gained resurgence in every home in this country. Nigeria paid a huge price for what South Africa has become today. I remember the anti-apartheid campaign was at the core of Nigerian foreign policy.
“Apart from scholarship given to South Africans, I remember President Yar’Adua met Thabo Mbeki in South Africa and he was telling me about their relationship, which he said was dated to when Mbeki used to come to Zaria for student exchange programme. I remember we did not go for Commonwealth Games because of South Africa. I remember we took drastic measures against the foreign collaborators of apartheid regime and nationalised assets.”
However, Lagos-based lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, says Nigerian politicians are to be blame for the pedestrian level the country presently occupies in the international community. He says the complete atrophy of the respect the country was accorded in global affairs was as a result of years of misrule and corruption by the country’s politicians.
“Nigeria has lost its social, political and economic glory domestically and that glory that is lost cannot be recovered at Mandela’s funeral,” he said.
“While Nigeria officialdom maybe in a state of discomfiture by the non-recognition of Nigeria in the protocol of the funeral, the point is that it is not what Nigeria did for South Africa or for Angola or for any of the frontline states like Namibia that Nigeria will be remembered. It not the support Nigeria gave to the ANC… that Nigeria will be recognised by, it is what Nigeria has done for itself and what Nigeria has not done for itself. And we’ve done a lot against ourselves. Look at our country; our country is broken in many respects and no you’re talking about xenophobia, what led to it? Nigerian young people go overseas and become criminals the way we are criminals in our own country. People leave the shore of Nigeria to be criminals outside our shores. Right from the time they leave Nigeria they’re going overseas to be criminals. We are exporting blue-collar crimes and Yahoo Yahoo to all sorts of countries, to Malaysia and are we blaming those countries for our own woes?
“How you will be regarded abroad is determined by how you’re regarded at home. Now how is the Nigeria state regarded by Nigerians? The Nigerian state is regarded by Nigerian as an uncaring state, as a heartless state, as a state that has no love for its people, as a state that has abandoned its people. So how has the Nigerian state treated its own people before we start taking offence at how the Nigerian state is treated by another country?
“Those who may be belly-aching about not being giving recognition by the organisers of the funeral of Mandela should know that while they may not be regarded, the South African people regard Nigeria. Go and read all the accounts, the role that is played by Nigerians is recognised in all those imperishable works and this cannot be obliterated by this treatment that is accorded to Nigerian officials that we at home have contempt for. If we are disgraced outside, that disgrace didn’t come from outside that disgrace come from within because we have disgraced and debased ourselves. Do you expect anybody to take you seriously when what your rulers are known for is taking your money and cashing them away? In fact it s better they are humiliated outside so that they can come back home and be serious. If bad people are accorded all the respect and dignity that good people should be accorded how do you think they will change.”
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