Date Published: 10/05/09
The President owes us an apology and a refund of $1million By Rufus Kayode Oteniya
While assuming the presidency of Nigeria on May 29, 2007, the then Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua swore as follows:
I, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua do solemnly swear/affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I will discharge my duties to the best of my ability, faithfully and in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law, and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well being and prosperity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will strive to preserve the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions; that I will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…
Having taken this oath, the president is expected at all times to act according to the dictates of the oath. In performing his duty, he is expected to discharge his duties to the best of his ability, faithfully and in accordance with the Constitution and the law of the nation. His actions are expected to be in consonance with the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well being and prosperity of Nigeria. He is also not expected to allow his personal disposition to override his State duties and his personal interest to take precedence over the national interest of Nigeria.
Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria of the Federal Republic of Nigeria addresses the fundamental objectives and directive principles of our national policy. While section 13 states that ‘It shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this Constitution, section19 spells out the foreign policy objectives of the Nigeria states:
The foreign policy objectives shall be -
(a) promotion and protection of the national interest;
(b) promotion of African integration and support for African unity;
(c) promotion of international co-operation for the consolidation of universal peace and mutual respect among all nations and elimination of discrimination in all its manifestations;
(d) respect for international law and treaty obligations as well as the seeking of settlement of international disputes by negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and adjudication; and
(e) promotion of a just world economic order.
Having sworn to protect the constitution that states clearly in section 19 what Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives are, can there be any worse disservice or how can the action of the president be justified when he elected to be a in Saudi Arabia between September 19 – 25, 2009 just to be a special guest of honour at the opening of a new ultramodern King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia at a time when Nigerian Universities have been shot for more than 3 months while the world’s leaders are in New York attending the sixty-fourth UN General Assembly to discuss rising challenges of today’s world? The assembly mostly focused on the big issues like climate change, disarmament, the global financial crisis, Millennium Development Goals and key issues of peace and security around the globe.
This clearly shows the insensitivity of the president and his advisers and a lack of respect for the constitution he swore to protect. It is also a slap on our collective psyche to see our president pretending to care about education outside the country while he was careless whether our children are locked out of universities. It was most shocking and hypocritical to show care abroad when were careless at home. Candidly, to call the trip an embarrassment to the nation is an understatement. It portrays a nation led by leaders void of decision faculty who cannot place their priorities right and no other nation can respect such.
A president attending an occasion that is of little or no strategic interest to Nigeria at a time when such a salient meeting was being held where the president could have rebranded Nigeria and intimate the globe of the progress of the amnesty programme of resolving the crises in the Niger-Delta can be likened to a man who abandons his wedding ceremony to attending a friend's birthday celebration. A wedding is supposed to be a once in a lifetime experience while birthday comes up annually. The commissioning of the University could have been held any other time while the UN General Assembly comes up once annually.
Apparently, human beings and governments have never been perfect or never will they, but the standard is that whoever makes a mistake should admit and pay for it. That is where we miss. I’ve waited endlessly and fruitlessly hoping to see this government come out to say to the good people of this great nation how sorry they felt for affronting the nation with their bad decision.
When in May 18, 1993 the former US president, Bill Clinton decided to delay his departure from Los Angeles International Airport for about an hour so the high-priced celebrity Beverly Hills hairstylist Cristophe could board Air Force One and give him a haircut, he admitted his bad judgement and apologised to the nation for his role in wasting tax-payers’ money and in bringing LA to a standstill for an hour. He volunteered to partly bear the cost of his action. In this regard, I profoundly believe the president owes us an apology and a refund of the cost.
My conservative estimate puts the cost at $1 million. This include all the direct cost associated to the tour (Presidential jet, fuel, hangar’s charges, hotel for the president and all the entourage, Insurance, estacodes, security vote, SSS, feeding etc) and all the indirect cost like the salaries and allowances of the president and everyone involved in the tour for that one wasteful week.
It is a moral requirement that the president must be responsible.
God Bless Nigeria!
Nigeria Go Better!
Rufus Kayode Oteniya (email@example.com) is the founder of Nigeria Think Tank a Facebook discussion forum created to confront problems confronting us as a people and Transparency in Nigeria a site to promote transparency and accountability in our policies, polities and politics.