Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan arrived in Beijing, China on Tuesday for his four-day visit, which is meant to boost bilateral cooperations between both countries.
But the buzz on the internet was not centered on the president’s plans to secure a $1.1 billion low interest loan for much-needed infrastructure, including roads and electricity.
Instead, what has some Nigerians talking is the welcome party that met President Jonathan when he arrived at the Beijing international airport.
Upon his arrival, Jonathan was welcomed by China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Li Yucheng, not President Xi Jingping or Premier Li Keqiang or even the Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, but his assistant.
When the photograph was published on P.M. News’ website, the conversation immediately focused on what an insult it was to President Jonathan and the nation not to be received by a higher-ranking official.
One commenter, Jo, wrote: “President Jonathan was welcomed on his arrival by the Deputy Minister of of Foreign Affairs. His position did not even warrant a Deputy Premier, less so the Foreign Minister. Instead, a small boy was sent to meet him. GEJ show some pride in Nigeria and in yourself. A whole President of 170 million people. The Chinese are very traditional people, and treat you the way you portray yourself. Protocol demands at least the substatiative (sic) foreign minister or vice premier welcomes a visiting President at the airport, not an errand boy.”
Femi commented: “This is a slap on Nigeria as a nation. Jonathan is our President regardless of his faults, to be treated as such is unacceptable. Diplomatically, its absurd… Jonathan needs to put the P back in Nigerian Pride and stop riding us.”
Another, Tk, wrote: “This is a disgrace to the peak. How can a vice minister of foreign affairs receive a visiting president of a country. Not just any country, Nigeria for God’s sake. Whether we believe it or not, economically, Nigeria is a power house in Africa. If Obama goes to China today, will Li Yucheng receive him at the airport? As China is to the world in population and econmic (sic) might, so is Nigeria to Africa. Frankly, if I were Jonathan, I will cut short my visit.”
Tk is right. U.S. President Barack Obama would not be welcomed by Li Yucheng alone if he were to touch down in China today.
During his visit in 2009, President Obama got the full entourage. He was welcomed by then President Hu Jintao and Premier Xi Jinping and a host of other officials who met the Air Force One when it landed in Beijing.
When U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron visited in 2010, he was welcomed by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. So why not afford the same courtesy to the president of China’s third largest trade partner?
Bola916, another commenter on P.M. News’ website, had an interesting theory: “…China does not need Nigeria, because the Chinese kow Nigerian leaders are embarrassment to common sense; just two days ago, the Chinese Commissioner for the development of railway infrastructure was sentenced to death for grafting; in Nigeria, our constitution condones grafting.”
The Nigerian constitution doesn’t condone grafting, of course, but our government is reluctant to punish it. Jonathan’s own administration only recently granted state pardon to former Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who was convicted of corruption and money laundering and spent but a few hours in jail for his crimes.
We are faced with security challenges in the north, oil theft in the south and a government that seems more interested in filling their pockets than fixing the nation’s problems.
So perhaps Nigerian presidency got the welcome it deserved in China?
Leave a comment below, tell us what you think.