3-time winner, travel & tourism reporter of the year
2012: Farewell, mixed-bag year
The outgone year was your classic mixed-bag: the good, the bad and every shade between. Though evocative of the typical helluva year, for Nigerians in Diaspora, especially within the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) region, 2012; however, went down as one in which they expressed renewed faith in their country and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s envoys.
Despite all the challenges thrown up by terrorists posing as religious fanatics, Nigerians living in various countries abroad stand solidly behind President Jonathan. And, they have geniune reasons for their stance. It used to be that some Nigerians living abroad loathed their embassies because they felt some workers at those Foreign Service outposts could actually worsen their plight rather than succour them; in time of trouble.
But, since the appointment of Dr Olugbenga Ashiru as Foreign Minister, and the subsequent posting of 93 new ambassadors last June; Nigerians living abroad have benefitted tremendously from the tangibly improved conduct of their country’s diplomatic missions. Renewed drive in the area of citizen diplomacy is one of the factors responsible for Nigerians’ current respectful regard for President Jonathan, his envoys and our embassies, generally. In the past, it seemed unimaginable that any Nigerian mission would take interest in the welfare of its citizens in foreign jails. However, such interest has not only been practically expressed but is also growing.
Whereas such visits do not in any way celebrate detainees for dragging their nation’s name in the mud, they have helped in data-gathering with a view to reviewing the cases of some of the inmates. In the past, Nigerians kept their distance from their embassies; but, our compatriots in foreign lands and their president’s envoys are these days interacting more and more to mutual benefit.
Some of such notable forums, which we personally witnessed, took place in Cotonou (Benin Republic), Lome (Republic of Togo) and Accra (Ghana). Due to space constraint, one cannot list most of the laudable strides recorded by Nigerian ambassadors to these countries. Nonetheless, it must be recalled that, in all three countries, Nigerians were treated to hours of relaxation by their country’s embassies in commemoration of October 1st. Interestingly, the encounters were not just ones for wining and dining but also featured memorable comments about our country’s great potentials as well as staggering endowments and the benefits Nigerians stood to gain, given peace with all hands on deck.
Now, we are into a new year, and, from all indications 2013 shall be better than 2012. But, before we delve into this year’s events; I thank God Almighty for sparing our lives; even as we pray for peace for the souls of the departed ones. Who could forget the June 3, 2012 Dana Air crash? Who could forget that Chief Olusegun Olusola, a former Ambassador of Nigeria to Ethiopia, ace broadcaster, creator of Village Headmaster; passed away on June 21, 2012?
As if the nation wasn’t bereaved enough, Gov Patrick Yakowa and General Owoeye Azazi as well as others travelling with them died, when their aircraft crashed on December 15. It was also in 2012, that; Baba Abdul Lateef Olujobi, Cotonou Chapter General Secretary of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), died. Barely seven months after Baba Olujobi’s transition on May 2, Alhaji Oladimeji Kanisuru Abdulkarim Yacoub, also passed on last year. Alhaji Kanisuru Abdulkarim Yacoub was about 80 years old, when he died on November 28. Although he did not outright disclose his age, when we met in 2012, Alhaji Oladimeji Yacoub, revealed he first set foot on Cotonou in 1957.
As we write, plans had been concluded for the deceased’s Fidau Prayers on the 41st Day after his passage. That event is billed to take place in Cotonou, Benin Republic and in Ilorin, Kwara State; next Wednesday, January 9, 2013. In the same vein, Chief Eme Chukwu, Chairman of Igbo Union Togo, died in 2012. Chief Eme Chukwu, who died on September 11, was a scion of the late Mazi Chukwu Lekwauwa Family of Umuokpo, Amankalu Alayi. Chief Eme Chukwu alias Power was born on August 10, 1952; and, held the traditional title of Onje mba enwe iro.
May the souls of all our departed loved ones rest in peace. Amen. And, before I sign off: To have successfully travelled thousands of kilometres in 2012, not to talk of having covered hundreds of thousands of kilometres over the last 20 years and still be alive; despite all the snares lurking around practically every corner is indeed a miracle. Glory be to our God Most High. Yes, God is with me; this is I know. And, by His grace, we shall live to glorify God’s name and His everlasting benevolence this time, next year; and even many more years beyond 2014. Amen!