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.
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
This point was also highlighted by the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, on Monday in a chat with journalists.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”