Anger as embassy ban Nigerians from taking photos with Foreign Minister as he visits Austria

Good numbers of Nigerians have not been happy as so many questions are on their lips.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru

The Nigerian community in Austria has been informed by the Ambassador, Her Excellency Maria Oyeyinka Laose that the Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, will be arriving in Vienna on 7.04.2013.

Addressing the NANCA President R. O. Olanrewaju invited on behalf of the Ambassador the National Association of Nigeria Community Austria (NANCA) and executive members of each Nigerian ethnic registered group in Austria, “I am directed to invite you and officials of the Nigerian community to a short meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, on Monday, 8th April, 2013. The Minister is scheduled to arrive Austria on 7th April, 2013, and has graciously agreed to meet the Nigerian Community in Austria at the Embassy from 09.00 am to 10.30 am prompt.
“Please note that use of cameras (also mobile phone cameras) at the meeting is not allowed,” the invitation read.

Since this invitation was sent out, good numbers of Nigerians have not been happy as so many questions are on their lips. Amongst the questions are: Why are they inviting only the representatives of Nigerian communities to welcome the Minister? But they invited every Nigerian when the Interior Minister came and he was happy to see us and Nigerians were equally happy the way he answered their questions. Is our Foreign Affairs Minister hiding something? Why, are we not allowed to come with cameras or take photos with Minister Ashiru using our mobiles but were allowed when Interior Minister Moro came? Are we going to plan a coup against the Austrian or Nigerian government that warranted a ban of cameras? Did the minister turn an ugly man overnight? Who is afraid of cameras? These questions are yelling for answers as the Nigerian communities are consulting each other in order to resolve not to honour the invitation in protest in what many of them said should be the best option just “to avoid any further embarrassment” because the prohibition on the use of their mobiles and the manner it was conveyed to them was an insult.

They equally complained that the timing of the meeting with the Minister in the morning was very odd since most of them should be at work at that time and would have preferred meeting the Minister any time in the late evening.

As Foreign Affairs Minister Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru is coming to Austria, I say, welcome to Austria Minister Sir. In my sincere view as a Diaspora Nigerian, in this present government and under your leadership, the awareness for Nigerian ambassadors to take care of Nigerians in Diaspora and for their host countries to treat them with some level of respect and accord them their due dignity have been slightly better in comparison with Nigerian past governments.

The diplomatic uproar that took place between Nigeria and South Africa that was ignited by the indiscriminate and irrational deportations of Nigerians and the response of the Nigerian government under your ministry that forced the South African government to apologise to Nigeria, testified to the above point. Even though the progress made so far is nothing to write home about considering the potentialities of Nigeria since maltreatments, injustice, molestation and killing of Nigerians in foreign lands remains very high without Nigerian Missions showing much concern. Even as one reads this now, many Nigerians are languishing in various prisons around the world for crimes they never committed because Nigerian government through the embassy did not care to help them get fair trials. But no matter how little, the facts must equally be acknowledged by objective minds that there has been an improvement and that all the acquired problems over the years cannot be corrected like magic.

The time we saw similar reactions to protect Nigerians in this form before the international world was under the leadership of the late maximum ruler Gen. Sani Abacha who had dared all the so-called world powers who have been nothing but economic imperialists to Africa and had stationed Nigerian military men to guide and protect oil rich Bakassi Peninsula and the indigenes against Cameroonians foreign backed military invention. But unfortunately the same Bakassi Peninsula was years later against the wish of the people and our ancestors inhumanly traded out that has caused historical damage and excruciating pains on the people of Cross River State and concerned Nigerians.

However, irrespective of the efforts of the government and the awareness campaign so far under the Minister, the sad truth remains that Nigerian Embassies all over the world are too inefficient to their responsibilities.

As Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru is visiting Austria, I urge him to use the opportunity to address as many Nigerians that would be interested to come to see him and bridge the gap between them the leaders, and the governed. If the Interior Minister could manage the situation successfully; why are they trying to portray him as someone hiding from Nigerians? The sceptical approach by Nigerians towards their leaders with the mentality that ‘they do not care about them’ can only be gradually erased through constant, open and genuine interactions when the opportunity like this occurs. Consequently, I appeal to the Minister to liaise with Ambassador Laose and find a time that should be suitable for him and the Nigerian community in Austria for a discussion because his long journey from Nigeria to Austria cannot be said to be successful if he comes and goes without meeting a reasonable number of Nigerians in Austria. And also the ban of the people making use of their mobiles during the meeting should please be lifted as they are men and women of high reputes that should understand simple meeting protocols.

Who is afraid of cameras?
Welcome to Austria once more honourable Minister!

Uzoma Ahamefule, a concerned patriotic citizen writes from Vienna, Austria

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