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Words on Marble from Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Viola Onwuliri

“We have one hundred and sixty million people. If two million are on the streets, then that means one hundred and fifty-eight million are in their homes.” 

Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Viola Onwuliri, dismissing the recent protests in Nigeria as being of no consequence as it was not half as bad as the media portrayed it”.   She spoke to Vera Ezimora, one of the Nigerians in Maryland, USA who was present at the World Bank and IMF protests recently.

Ms. Onwuliri had met some Nigerians at the Agama Kitchen International Restaurant in Bladensburg, Maryland a suburb of Washington for a “Town Hall Meeting.”

While I’m not putting a hard-working Nigerian who runs Agama Kitchen International Restaurant down by the way, would a so-called “Town Meeting” to be held by Nigeria’s Information Minister for a huge megalopolis like the Baltimore-Washington area that is home to – perhaps over a hundred thousand Nigerians or even more – have been better held at a larger, better and more befitting location, say, the University of Maryland or the Marriot at Greenbelt or any of many possible locations that abound in Prince George’s County, if that’s the location that the Professor wanted.

And to have Nigeria’s Foreign Minister hold a “Town Meeting” that was not widely known to most Nigerians in the area at a particularly turbulent time for the country and in a location that can sit not many people makes one wonder what kind of report Madam Professor turned in AS WELL AS the cost of the trip to Nigerian government.

In telling Nigeria’s story – true and distorted versions – Nigeria’s top government officials always seem to be adept at putting the country’s ugly face forward – for reasons best known to them.

Just a thought.  Thanks, Ms. Ezimora and thanks as always to SR.

Those who attended got to feast on Heineken, goat meat … Read the full report at http://saharareporters.com/article/my-meeting-professor-viola-onwuliri-minister-foreign-affairs.

Vera Ezimora, in Sahara Reporters, January 19, 2012 – 18:32

TOLA ADENLE.

 

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4 Comments on “Words on Marble from Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Viola Onwuliri”

  1. Layi Says:

    Ms. Adenle,

    Thank you for your very good blog and observations on Viola Onwuliri’s agama Kitchen meeting. This was not a Town Hall meeting. I will rather call it a dinner or launch meeting with her (Onwuliri’s) friends. I am sure the Nigerian Government paid for this so-called town hall meeting. This is a good example of how Nigerian Government wastes our resources aimlessly, and without any good justification for it.
    And by the way how many Foreign Ministers does Nigeria Government have? Ambassador Olugbenga Ayodeji Ashiru is the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Is Viola Onwuliri Minister of State or what is her position in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

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    • emotan77 Says:

      Thanks a lot, Mr. Layi. I was not that surprised – though not unexpected – at the Agama Kitchen Proxy’s take on a post that did not want to mention the restaurant’s overall look because I had visited as I tend to do whenever I see any Nigerian establishment in any of my old neighborhoods whenever I’m in the States: restaurants, grocery stores, beauty salons, etcetera. Even though I may not wait for service at these places, visiting places Nigerian or African is part of my shopping experience, and it usually takes a visit to have my mind made up: the grocery store where music blares loudly while the owners’ young kids run around, the grocery stores with the pungent smells, the restaurants that fall short of my standard. That is saying a lot because I’m a down-home upcountry lady who has her favorite boli– roasted plaintain – sellers all over the towns I frequent in Southwestern Nigeria, there are bukateria in the same places that know when I’m not around!

      Of course we all know the government paid for the so-called Town Hall Meeting and what I, like most Nigerians would love to know is, how much the lie cost.

      I must confess, Mr. Layi, I have no idea what the professor’s position is. In fact, I had never heard of her; not that I know the names of most of Jonathan’s ministers which matters not, anyway. All these ministers, junior ministers, senior special advisers, special advisers, etcetera that Nigerian presidents and governors seem to have become enamored of since the REIGN of retired General Obasanjo, are at the root of the insane recurrent to capital expenditure ratios.

      Regards, TOLA.

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  2. Ade Says:

    It is disgraceful that you would prefer a location not owned by a Nigerian to discuss Nigerian matters where there is a Nigerian owned location that our people can relate to.

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    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Mr./Ms. Ade, Thanks for your comments.

      It is rather unfortunate that things will never really change in Nigeria because we continue to see everything through the prism of Us vs. Them. Actually, every word used in the reference made to the Agama Restaurant was quite generous and charitable because I’ve been to the restaurant and do know that it should not be a Ministerial choice for quite a few reasons but I will list only two: it cannot seat more than a couple dozen diners comfortably and if the minister was serious about holding a “Town Hall Meeting”, one would expect her to look forward to where, perhaps, a minimum of hundred Nigerians could sit in an area that is home to [perhaps] over a hundred thousand Nigerians as I mentioned in the essay.

      Those two reasons alone nullify the choice of the restaurant. Ownership of an establishment – much as it’s a great idea patronizing “our own” – cannot be used to justify selection of a place, especially for an ambassadorial briefing. That kind of meet-the-people briefing that Ms. Onwuliri had was, I suppose, meant to tell the government’s side of the sorry story of oil subsidy removal protests. Shouldn’t there be some news outlets present from the metro area?
      As for a place “that our people can relate to”, I think the professor cannot tell Nigerians that considering the fact that the cost – I’m a skeptic in things of this nature – would not likely be less than if the event had been publicized at the scores of Nigerian churches, local papers like Prince George’s Gazette, Montgomery Gazette and even the Washington Post, etcetera and attracted a more dignified environment.

      Mark you, I’ve been to the restaurant as mentioned above but it was most inappropriate for a Nigerian affair at that level.

      TOLA ADENLE, Ibadan, Nigeria.

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