Home » General » FG Protests Mugabe’s ‘Corruption’ Remark On Nigeria, Summons Envoy

The uncomplimentary remark made last month by President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe that Nigeria stinks of corruption has set off a diplomatic row between the two African countries.

Mugabe made the comment on Nigeria during a lunch held to celebrate his 90th birthday, during which he said Zimbabweans were almost behaving like Nigerians who have to be corruptly paid for every service.

But the federal government formally protested the remark yesterday by summoning the Zimbabwean Head of Chancery, Mr. Stanley Kunjeku, who was told in blunt terms that Nigeria would not tolerate such unwarranted attack on its image and people.

According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi, described Mugabe’s comment as “vitriolic and denigrating on Nigeria and Nigerians”.

“We were very concerned when we read that on the occasion of the 90th birthday of President Mugabe, he took off considerable time to vituperate about Nigeria,” he added.

He said Mugabe’s comment reflected “what we consider to be a g aversion of our country, remarks which we consider denigrating and un-statesmanlike on Nigeria and Nigerians in general”.

“He was reported to have said Nigerians are corrupt people when he hosted service chiefs on his 90th birthday,” Uhomoibhi said.

Media reports had quoted Mugabe as saying during his birthday celebration: “Are we now like Nigeria where you have to reach into your pocket to get anything done? You see we used to go to Nigeria and every time we went there we had to carry extra cash in our pockets to corruptly pay for everything.

“You get into a plane in Nigeria and you sit there and the crew keeps dilly dallying without taking off as they wait for you to pay them to fly the plane.”

But Uhomoibhi told Kunjeku that Nigeria took an exception to such unpleasant remark from a leader of an African nation, to which it contributed immensely to its struggle for political independence.

“We want to present the gest protest in that statement not only does it not reflect the reality in our country, but to come from a sitting president of a brotherly country is most unkind and very dishonourable,” he said.

He said the Zimbabwean president’s comment was unfortunate, given the role Nigeria played in the liberation struggle in southern Africa.

According to him, Nigeria has always stood with Zimbabwe “shoulder to shoulder” since independence and was one of the first countries to congratulate Mugabe on his re-election.

“At the point sanctions were imposed on your country, Nigeria empathised with Zimbabwe,” he said.

Uhomoibhi later told journalists that Nigeria’s reaction to Mugabe’s attack on its reputation and people was not belated as it had been in the public domain since March 15.

“In our diplomatic parlance, we do not react the way people would want us to react we have to verify and articulate our position,” he said.

In a brief remark, Kunjeku said Nigeria’s protest would be forwarded to Harare. Meanwhile, Uhomoibhi has condemned the reported attacks on Nigerians in South Africa last week.

He said: “We condemn in g terms, any acts of racism, xenophobia and discrimination perpetrated by whomsoever, including in that particular country.

“We are appalled that these incidents occur in a country that we hold in highest esteem and which is a brotherly country to Nigeria.

“We hope that due processes would be taken so that this does not happen (again).”

He called on the South African Government to take appropriate actions against those responsible for the attacks and also urged the country to abide by its commitment to international standards of behaviour and cordial relations between both countries.

On April 2 and 3, some Nigerians were hospitalised in Pretoria after attacks by organised gangs in South Africa.

During the attacks, no fewer than 25 shops owned by Nigerians in Johannesburg and Pretoria were looted by the South African gangs.

Source : This Day