A Scapegoat in Diplomacy? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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A Scapegoat in Diplomacy?

Posted: May 3, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

One other place that a sack loomed large last week was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, instead of a sack, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Danjuma Sheni, was issued a query and suspended from office on the orders of the President.

What was his ‘crime’? Sheni was said to have invited the Nigerian Charge d’Affair in South Africa back home for consultation over the xenophobic attacks there, without clearance from the Presidency. That is a pretty serious ‘crime’. Did he not know a President is still in charge here?

But that was not the first time the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would be embarrassing President Jonathan in the last few weeks. The ministry had earlier claimed the President had engaged the King of Morocco in a telephone conversation, something both leaders later denied. No one expressly blamed the Permanent Secretary for that faux pas, unlike in this second case in which he has been directly fingered.

A curious development is noticed in this saga as it is unthinkable that a Permanent Secretary, with so many years of experience in a bureaucracy stuffed civil service and in Foreign Affairs Ministry for that matter, will unilaterally recall an envoy for consultation without superior clearance. If the President was not informed, was the Minister in charge, Aminu Wali, aware? If he was aware, why was he spared from the big stick wielded by the President?

It appears difficult to exonerate the Minister of Foreign Affairs in these two scenarios concerning Morocco and South Africa. This prompted journalists at the Presidential Villa to inquire what happens to the Minister in all these. Minister of Information, Patricia Akwashiki, responded to the question thus: “The Minister is the Minister, the Permanent Secretary is the accounting officer in the ministry, so the stick had to fall on him.” Now we know better; that if you are the ‘accounting officer’, only you must be held accountable!