The Drama In Ghana | Independent Newspapers Limited
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COLUMNIST, Inside the Presidency

The Drama In Ghana

Posted: Sep 13, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Inside The Presidency

It is apparent that some Nigerians outside the shores of the country are only trudging along to catch up with this regime of change under President Muhammadu Buhari. Or how else could one view the drama that played out at the Nigerian High Commission in Accra, Ghana last week.

President Buhari was in that West African country on a ‘friendly visit’ – actually a first – and had to meet Nigerians resident there as part of his itinerary for the one day visit. It is taken for granted that on such occasions, the head of the diplomatic mission will seek to impress the visiting leader of his country and the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Ambassador Ademola Oluseyi Onafowokan, was no exception. It is only natural. And the Ambassador had prepared the occasion to meet the expectations of the big masquerade in town.

He expectedly gathered Nigerians who had been consistent and friendly in the affairs of their country to the grounds of the High Commission last Monday to meet with President Buhari. Out of about four million Nigerians reportedly residing in Ghana – a lot I must admit, no more than 60 or 70 of them graced the occasion. They were asked to use the rare privilege to ask the President some questions. To the dismay of many who wanted to raise their hands to ask questions, Ambassador Seyi announced that the President was pressed for time; so only two questions would be entertained. With that mute disappointment among the residents, they hoped the best two and most relevant questions would be thrown at the President from the audience, with the High Commissioner moderating the question and answer session.

The expectation was still that high when an elderly man was picked out by the High Commissioner to ask the second question. The man turned out to be one Sir Ralph, who had lived in Ghana for 43 years. He said so himself before going to his question. Anyway, the question was actually a suggestion and request. He started by praising the High Commissioner for doing a lot for Nigerians in Ghana proud and for beautifying the High Commission building with new ornamental greenery, landscaping and painting as well as modern fittings befitting a modern diplomatic mission. Sir Ralph said the High Commission building was looking its best since he came to Ghana. In conclusion, he demanded from the President to extend the tour of duty of Ambassador Seyi, who is due to retire in a matter of months.

At this point, it was like the ambassador wanted the grounds to open up and swallow him. The impression in the audience was that it was the ambassador who instigated Sir Ralph to make that request, but even if he did, the ambassador was by now almost vigorously shaking his head in disapproval. Standing right there at the podium with all eyed on him, Ambassador Seyi shook his head so hard that the President could notice. With the smirks and obvious embarrassment on many people’s faces, the ambassador had to to overule Sir Ralph’s ‘question’ and asked for a third question from the audience although he had earlier stated that only two questions would be entertained by Mr. President.

Nonetheless, President Buhari answered Sir Ralph by asking Ambassador Seyi to continue the good work and conclude the beautification of the High Commission “before you go”. In other words – no extension of tenure for the hard-working Ambassador. How can there be extension of tenure when the President only just recalled non-career Ambassadors and High Commissioners from all over the globe. If not for that Ambassador Seyi is a career diplomat, he would not even have been there in Accra to host the President. It is obvious that President Buhari’s body language, tending to adherence to rule of law, does not suggest he would extend the tenure of any Ambassador or High Commissioner. If anything, he is more likely to recall those not recalled already. But it seemed Sir Ralph didn’t read the President’s body language, or if he did, felt he could still make a point.

Well, the President also made his own point in reference to the Ambassador  – whenever you are done with your good works in Ghana, you are coming home. Otherwise, it may amount to corruption!