Thursday, September 23, 2010

At UN, Nigeria Mutes Critique of Shell, UNEP & Campbell, But Equal Pay for Equal Work

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 21 -- Standing in for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Foreign Minister Henry Odein Ajumogobia took questions from the Press on Tuesday and answered, not surprisingly, diplomatically.

While civil society and local officials in the Niger Delta have lambasted the UN Environment Program and Shell for what is viewed as a white wash of Shell's destruction of the area, when Inner City Press asked Minister Ajumogobia to speak on the issue, he referred only to clean up efforts in the Delta. One wag asked, clean up of what?

While Ajumogobia has publicly criticized the book of former US Ambassador John Campbell, “Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink,” when Inner City Press asked if Ajumogobia would raise the issue to Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton or any other US official while in New York, Ajumogobia instead recounted his good relations with Campbell around the Gulf of Guinea, when Ajumogobia was the Attorney General of River State.

Inner City Press asked what Nigeria's position is on Sudan, including the International Criminal Court's indictment of President Omar al Bashir for war crimes and genocide. Let me not preempt what President Jonathan will say at Friday's meeting, Ajumogobia said, adding that Nigeria is “fully engaged in Sudan,” particularly in Darfur.

Ajumogobi at the UN, critique of UNEP and Shell not shown

Notably, Ajumogobia's predecessor Ibrahim Gambari is now the joint UN - African Union representative in Darfur.

One of Ajumogobia's answer was clear and to the point. Inner City Press asked him to elaborate on the statements of Nigerian Permanent Representative to the UN Joy Ogwu, that African Union peacekeepers in Somalia should be paid similarly to UN peacekeepers.

Equal remuneration for equal work,” Ajumogobia replied. Hear, hear. As to Nigeria's position on Sudan and participation in the September 24 meeting, watch this site.

Footnote: Nigerian foreign minister Ajumogobia's press conference started 10 minutes late because the participants in the previous session, including the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity Ahmed Djoghlaf, were still in the room taking photographs including of a model Japan Air Lines plane with some murky biodiversity connection. It looked more like an advertisement for an airline...

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