PDP chieftain raps Nigerian politicians over ‘jamboree’ at Chatham House

Mahmood Yakubu at Chatham House

Chief Sunny Onuesoke, a former governorship candidate for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has criticised the flurry of presidential candidates visiting Chatham House, London, to offer their programmes towards the upcoming election, calling it “neo-colonialism.”

To debate elections in Nigeria or Nigerian issues at Chatham House, especially by presidential candidates and others at a time close to a local election, is the most immoral thing to do, according to Onuesoke, who spoke by phone from the United States of America yesterday.

He claimed that it was clear from the candidates’ actions that they were all products of white supremacy and a belief in neocolonialism.

The PDP leader questioned why the presidential contenders weren’t marketing their political agenda at institutions like the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) and the Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS), among others.

“We have similar bodies like Chatham House here in Nigeria. The NIIA and CDS among others. Were these bodies to invite Nigerian politicians to come and speak at the platform, they are not likely to show up. They would give excuses. And that is why no major politician has gone there to engage the Nigerian intelligentsia. They would rather go to London,” he remarked.

To Onuesoke, the Nigerian politicians’ visit to Chatham House proves that “we are still suffering from a terrible colonial mentality”, lamenting that even though the Nigerian electorate will decide elections, why so much concentration on London?

“Our leaders go to London for medical treatment. They go to Dubai for tourism. And they don’t go alone. Every trip is an opportunity for over-excited aides to pose for photographs, sometimes with wives, girlfriends and their children.

“Nigerian leaders have a strong appetite for everything foreign. That is how they killed Nigeria’s education sector. That is how they killed the health sector. Now, they want to kill our politics,” he lamented.

The PDP leader said it was regrettable that our political leaders and their advisers see Chatham House as a tourist centre and that politicians delivering a thousand speeches there wouldn’t sway Nigerian voters.

He pondered why it was not common to practise for British politicians to travel to Nigeria to drum up support for their campaigns or for politicians from other countries to use London as a hub for their international campaigns.

“The main challenge is here at home, not on the streets of London. Why are our politicians not scrambling to be featured in NIIA, where we all can access and assess them for what they are worth?” he asked. 

He warned that the continued politics of hate would make healing and reconciliation difficult after the election is won and lost, adding, “Nigeria cannot afford that,” in his advice to the political gladiators to focus more on issues and less on mudslinging, polluting, and fouling the environment.

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