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Issues On Mr. President Trip To Brazil
Brazil has come and gone but its echoes have kept reverberating across the country over President Goodluck Jonathan’s participation as the head of the Nigerian delegation.
The President has jetted out of the country last Monday amidst violence in Kaduna and Yobe states, an action that has continued to provoke public outrage even with his return. Over 90 people were killed in the Kaduna violence precipitated by the bombing of several churches by the Boko Haram Islamic sect and reprisal attacks by Christians.
On the President’s large entourage were 116 officials, the largest national delegation by any of the countries that participated at the event. The team was made up of 25 personal aides; 18 aides of the First Lady, Patience Jonathan; two members of the National Assembly; five ministers, two governors, and 63 officials from the Ministries of Environment, Foreign Affairs, National Planning and Petroleum Resources.
It was against these backdrops that members of the opposition and analysts picked on the President, describing his action as a “sign of insensitive and confused leadership.” Jonathan, it would be recalled had pledged in January, in the wake of the fuel subsidy protest, to travel at less weight and expense as part of measures to cut sky rocketing cost of governance.
They argued that the President should have delegated the Vice President or the Minister of Environment to represent him at the summit since it was not a UN General Assembly, while he attends to more pressing Issues of insecurity at home as he was well aware of the killings before he travelled. It was further argued that nothing should even have stopped him from cutting short his Trip to return home if he had travelled after the crisis erupted.
Examples were cited of world leaders who have either had to entirely cancel trips, rush back home, or send representatives to more important meetings, conferences and other forms of official visits on account of fundamentally critical Issues plaguing their citizens.
In April 2010, President Hu Jintao of China cut short his tour of Latin America and returned home after an earthquake in Western China. Other instances were in July 2011, when British Prime Minister David Cameron cut short a trade tour to some African countries and returned home owing to a phone-hacking scandal and in September of the same year when Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of Pakistan cancelled his official visit to the U.S. where he was to address the UN General Assembly to oversee flood relief operations. He had to ask his Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, to represent him and address the world body.
In April, President Silva Kiir of South Sudan returned home early from his visit to China, due to the tension along the border between South Sudan and Sudan. In the same month, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu equally cut short an official Trip to China because of a crisis after Syrian forces fired shots into a refugee camp across the border, wounding four people.
And while the Brazilian summit was on, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina cut her Trip and returned to Buenos Aires as the teamsters union continued to picket fuel plants as part of a 72- hour strike to demand a pay increase in defiance of a compulsory truce called by the Labour Ministry, prompting fears of major fuel shortages nationwide. She even had to meet with her cabinet almost straight from the airport, after landing at 9:00 p.m.
Leading opposition party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which kick-started the barrage of attacks on the President over the Brazilian Trip said he should have cancelled it as a symic act of a caring leadership and out of respect for the souls that were lost in the Kaduna and Yobe crises. The party through its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said: “In other climes, the usual thing is for leaders to cancel foreign trips or rush home from such trips when their countries suffer tragedies.
“Since our own President has not even left Nigeria when these latest tragedies broke, it is inexplicable that he will still hop into a plane with a huge entourage and fly out. He should realise that he is attending the conference because he is the President of Nigeria, not because he is Dr. Jonathan. Therefore, Nigeria’s paramount interest dictates that he stays at home and oversees efforts to prevent the precarious situation in Kaduna from degenerating into an allout religious war.”
The ACN said the fact that the Trip was announced by the Presidency as Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, was being terrorised by attackers raised serious concerns about the Jonathan administration’s commitment to the security and welfare of the citizenry, which is the primary responsibility of any government.
The House of Representatives also said the President should have delegated the Trip to Vice-President Namadi Sambo or any of his senior aides since it was “not special or of economic interest.” According to the House spokesman, Zakari Mohammed, “a Trip like that could have been delegated by the President so that he can stay at home to take charge of security.”
Mohammed noted that investors would not come to Nigeria if the country is not safe.
The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) also faulted the President, saying his Trip was disappointing. According to the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Rotimi Fashaki, “President Jonathan got a mandate to defend or enhance the interest of the state, including diplomatic visits. However, it is impolitic for him to leave the shores of the land for any meeting at a time there was an emergency situation in the nation.”
A human rights group, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) also condemned the President’s action, describing it as a display of “high sense of insensitivity to the plights of every Nigerian.” In a statement by its chairman, Debo Adeniran, CACOL added that “attending a climate summit when the climate of the nation is scorching every Nigerian is a misplaced priority.”
“What sort of investors do the President intends to attract to the nation when the entity called Nigeria is about to be no more? He should have delegated the summit to another key officer in his cabinet or even the Minister of Environment. Is it mandatory he attends the programme when his house is burning? It is worrisome and painful that President Jonathan seems relaxed in the face of escalating violence that is capable of disintegrating the nation,” CACOL said.
Former Lagos State Police Commissioner, Abubakar Tsav, even called on the President to immediately resign from office. His words: “He has lost control of the country and should step down; he has failed to provide security and well-being for the people, he is a failure and disappointment.”
While the camp of the critics swelled, the Federal Government said they were ignorant of the issue at stake. Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, who stated the position declared that Jonathan can rule from anywhere he chose in the world. He said: “The President can take decisions from anywhere in the world. His absence will not hamper his power to act. The Vice President effectively takes charge of affairs once the President is out of Nigeria and he is in touch with him on hourly basis.
He added: “There is no vacuum. The most important thing is that the President and the vice work harmoniously and are in constant touch. If the President panics, what will the people do? We must stop making politics out of the unfortunate incidents going on in Northern Nigeria.”
The President equally faulted his critics, saying he met with security chiefs and was satisfied with their plans to control the security situation in Kaduna and Yobe states shortly before his departure for Brazil. Jonathan, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, from Rio de Janeiro, dispelled the criticisms that the Trip amounted to abdicating his responsibility to Nigerians.
He therefore cautioned the opposition against cashing in on every crisis in the country to score political points. “The crisis in Kaduna and Yobe occurred almost on the eve of the president’s departure for this event and commitments had been made. The conference, Rio+20, is very important and nobody can doubt that.
“I think what we can do is to appeal to the opposition not to always play politics with everything; that is the major challenge we face, people always want to play politics with everything.” He further argued that Nigeria will not lose anything by the President’s Trip to Brazil but rather gain a lot.
The benefits of such trip, however, remain unclear as no investor would want to do business in a crises-ridden nation even as the global workers’ union, International Trade Union Congress (ITUC), has dismissed the outcome of the summit. The congress through its General Secretary, Sharan Burrow, said the declaration of the world leaders, Jonathan inclusive, “lacks the concrete direction needed to end senseless environmental destruction, drive investment into the green economy and guarantee social protection for all.”
المصدر: منتديات احباب عرب
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