By HUGO ODIOGOR, Foreign Affairs Editor
HE said when you deny the media access to information, they are bound to get it one way or another and when that happens, the media should not be crucified for not presenting its report to favour the powers that be.
It was a glorious night for the media as the NIIA boss told the audience that the traditional distrust between government officials and the media establishment in the country is not healthy in democratic governance.
According to him the NIIA is working on a plan to ensure that diplomatic correspondents and editors periodically and build a relationship that last beyond summoning them to cover events. Vanguard can authoritatively recall an encounter with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja in November 2011 when it was doing a story on visa rip-off and the stress that Nigerians were being subjected to obtain visas to United States and European countries.Vanguard reporters that went to the ministry were asked to put their request in writing which was eventually filed away by officials of the ministry who told the reporters that they were under strict instruction from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Olugbenga Ashiru, not to respond to media inquiries. It was not long before the Ministry was badly exposed when South Africa deported Nigerians over issues relating to yellow fever inoculation.
President Goodluck Jonathan with US Secretary of State, Mrs. Hilaryclinton During the Visit.
As clearly enunciated by Prof. Akinterinwa, the media had a role to play in maintaining checks on the other three arms of government, it has a role to monitor and report activities of those in public offices without fear or favour. According to the NIIA boss, blacking out the media or concealing public information from the press is a futile exercise because they would get the information by whatever means and in so doing public office holders and political actors should not expect favourable report.
Even as Prof. Adefuye gave account of the visit of the US Secretary of State, there was noticeable absence of officials of the ministry. Rather than chastise the media, perhaps what Ambassador Adefuye needs is to advise officials of the ministry to purge themselves of their pathological arrogance and acknowledge the that the media industry has well qualified and intelligent personnel that have acquitted themselves creditably in even in the area on diplomacy and diplomatic practice. They have also made supreme sacrifices including sacrificing their lives in the course of performing the duties, in the interest of the country. The examples Alechenu Akogun, Chris Imodibe, Tayo Awotusin, Dele Giwa, et al are shining examples of unbiddled patriotism and service to fatherland.
What Ambassador Adefuye would not share with his audience is that the United States is not happy with the growing influence of Al-Qaeda in West Africa, the Boko Haram insurgency, the potential threat of Israeli attack of Iran, the blockade of the Strait of Homuz and its impact on supply of oil to the West. The United States would not want to be jacked around by Arab countries in the case of Israel’s attack of Iran. First the United Sates and other European nations are worried by the Islamic insurgency and the repudiation of western values by the radical shiite sect of Islam and their jihad ideology which has find expression in attacking Americans.
US strategic interest in Nigeria
Former Director General of NIIA, Prof George Obiozor, who was also onetime, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the US, was at his best when he gave a brilliant breakdown of the unwritten account of America’s interest in Nigeria and the raison d’etre of the Clinton visit at the time she did. According to Prof Obiozor, Nigeria is a rising power and a regional hegemon which the US cannot ignore at this critical stage of the historical fluctuations between war and peace in the international system.
According to Prof. Obiozor, the purpose of the visit must be seen beyond the niceties of diplomacy of the enduring characteristics of US interest in Nigeria, which has become the fourth largest supply to the US. It is the in the tradition of realistic pragmatism that US will want to “secure the supply source of oil because any further outbreak of war in the Middle East could force the US to buckle”, hence Washington was using the goodwill of the Clintons to negotiate with Nigeria to ensure the Gulf of Guinea remains secured especially, with the presence of African Command in the territorial water to secure the passage of oil to the West. The Gulf of Guinea is the second most strategic energy source for the US and China has shown more than cursory interest in this region.
Prof Obiozor told his hearers that Washington is not a passive observer of the socio-political developments in Nigeria as it US would not want a repeat of what happened during the Nigeria civil war when US left Britain to sort out the situation, but London bungled the assignment which reached its climax when the Federal Government approached the former Soviet Union.
The Secret Enemy
Another keen watcher of international politics Barrister McAnthony Ndukaeze told Vanguard that the visit of Mrs. Clinton is to send a clear message to the Nigerian leadership that Washington will not fold its arms and allow Al-Qaeda to take over the West African Sub region.
With Nigeria, the most populous black nation on earth contending with the Boko Haram insurgency, the US would not fold its arm to see the success of Boko Haram. According to Barrister McAnthony Ndukaeze, Islam has become the secret enemy which the United States wants international cooperation and collaboration to contain. The US is therefore concern about destroying the structure, command and control of Boko Haram which the Americans are reluctant to classify as a terrorist group, because it will give them a status that it does not deserve within the global community. Rather, it would rather work with Nigeria’s security agencies to defeat Boko Haram.
Ndukaeze said: “There are growing concerns that the activities of Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb now poses greater threat to the United States, than in Asia where the use of drone strikes has incapacitated the leadership of Al-Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula and in the Asia countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan”.