Hardtalk and foolhardiness: An Open Letter to Chief Ojo Maduekwe

I was fortunate to miss the live broadcast of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) interview with Chief Ojo Maduekwe (COM). I say fortunate, because when I watched it, I was convinced I’d have ended up in the Intensive Care Unit of the Basildon Hospital being treated for some heart condition or the other.

To call this interview a disgrace is the biggest understatement of the new decade and is an insult to the adjective “disgrace”. I once asked if it is possible to renounce my Nigerian citizenship until the PDP is out of power, COM’s interview reinforced that desire a hundred fold.

I do not claim any expertise in the finer points of diplomacy, but I think there is some dignity in being forthright, even if sparingly. This is even more so when there is little to be gained by lying. Without casting aspersions on the educational pedigree of COM, I was left questioning the intelligence of this man who is the face of Nigerian foreign policy.

Jonathan: Why is your government being so secretive about the health of the President Umaru Yar’Adua?

COM: No.

Can someone inform Chief that “no” is not an answer to “why”! If he was trying to be diplomatic, he failed. Woefully. I could think of a 10 other answers that would deflect the leading content of that question without being as crass as that response appeared.

When Jonathan retorted that public pronouncements have been limited, our esteemed COM went on to “list” the pronouncements that the government has made regarding UMYA’s absence, namely one. A single statement. One lone, glorious communique, stating that he went for medical treatment and that he has an inflammation of the heart. O, how profound and unlimited this single statement is. Our brilliant lawyer COM was unable to come clean about the exact name of the ailment. Or perhaps he forgot? Or maybe that’s the finer aspect of diplomacy that I do not understand. Can someone kindly inform COM that it is called pericarditis? Or at least that was what we were told by the Nigerian Government.

Chief, Jonathan pointed out that there has been little information on how is treatment is progressing. Our brilliant COM intoned that UMYA spoke to the BBC. Please, for crying out loud, why do we have ministers make an art of providing idiotic remarks as answers to basic questions and observations? I cringed further when Jonathan reeled out verbatim the “lyrics” of UMYA’s phone conversation, where UMYA stated that he “hopes that very soon there would be tremendous progress that would allow me to get back home” Hinging the fortunes of a nation on the hopes of a terminally ill man?

Jonathan’s observation that the UMYA hopes there would be tremendous progress implies that progress has not occured yet brought out the religious side of Chief, as he said “we should say amen to that”! It is an insult to all forms of spirituality when these base men tot God’s name and religious cliches when they are confronted with issues beyond their spastic mental capacities.

Please tell COM we know he is not God. A point he was keen to re-emphasise over and over during the interview. Perhaps he has been treated for God-complex in the past and some psychiatrist told him that part of the therapy is to reiterate to himself that he is not God. But it looks utterly ridiculous, with that grimace like grin on his face, uttering over and over again to a barrage of questions, “I am not God”. Did someone ever tell him he was God? Or that is how he is adulated in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

For me, the most shameful aspect of this interview was in the penultimate remark by Jonathan when he told COM “all we have heard is prevarication”! (at 22:33 during the interview). Please Chief, you were called a liar – to your face! Did you know what prevarication means? It means lying, deception, confabulation… I could think of a dozen not so palatable synonyms for prevarication. I know COM is not a career diplomat, but for crying out loud, can’t political appointees be taught basic English?

It would amount to a great waste of my time if I write out all that I have in mind regarding COM and his recent press performances both here in Britain and in the United States. But I’ll conclude that if this is the best Nigeria can offer to the international community as a foreign minister, it is little wonder we are derided as a nation. Silence, I am convinced, would have been more golden than the naked dance in the market square which our Foreign Minister engaged in over the course of the past 2 week. I am ashamed of this bunch!

By the way, has anyone seen Dora Akunyili?!!!


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