Pope: Heads to roll over Buhari's embarrassment

SUN Newspaper- Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye

Following the embarrassment faced by President Muhammadu Buhari in which he was prevented from meeting Pope Francis at the 70th United Nations General Assembly, the staffer of the Nigerian Permanent Mission are trading blames amidst fear that heads may roll.
The President as a result of using the wrong gate had arrived late to meet with the Pontiff alongside other President’s and Heads of State and was prevented from doing so after Pope Francis addressed world leaders at the UN on Friday.
One of the sources in the Mission said a top official had walked up to the President as he came down to the lobby of his hotel and led the President away, assuring him of the quickest route to the venue without proper brief only for him to be stopped by the UN security as the pontiff had already gone in. “That was not the entrance for Presidents, but he was taken to walk down that path only to be turned back by the cops.”
It was gathered that the Presidents and the Heads of Government as well as delegates were advised to arrive as early as possible.
Officials at the Permanent Mission and those on the Recce team usually meet for proper briefings as well as consult and iron out the President’s itinerary for each day. The President is only supposed to be briefed and escorted for each event.
The Recce team is usually drawn from protocol, media and security departments in the Presidential Villa and are usually briefed on arrival by Nigerian embassy staff on what to expect and what has been slated for the President’s attention.
One of the delegate who witnessed the way the President was embarrassed said, “I will be surprised if some people are not made to pay for their negligence and make these Mission staff sit up once and for all.”
An embassy official who pleaded not to be named put the blame squarely on the door steps of Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Joy Ugwu who reportedly told the President that she knew the way in, but escortedhim on a wrong path only for them to be later turn back by UN security.
According to the source, “‎this was really embarrassing because it was not her job to do so. She is to accompany the President to meetings if need be and not to dabble into areas that are clearly not in her briefs. She should have let the right people who have been in constant touch with the UN ground rules lead the President.”
The President is also said to be unhappy with the mix up that led to his missing the event on Boko Haram and Internally Displaced Persons. Other countries affected by the scourge-Cameroon, Niger and Chad – were fully present and made contributions at the meeting.
The President had earlier attended a side event organized by the National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDs and the Office of the Special Adviser on MDGs, where the final report of the progress of MDGs in Nigeria was presented.
The source said it was clearly not the President’s fault as it was not listed among the events he was attending handed him by the Permanent Mission Staff.
The presidency has since released a statement stating that the Nigerian delegation to the 70th United Nations General Assembly was not invited to a meeting where countries affected by the Boko Haram insurgency discussed how to tackle the refugee crisis caused by the conflict.
But the event was scheduled for 3pm in the UN event itinerary released to the media‎.
A member of the Recce team who also pleaded for anonymity said everything was shabbily done hence the many hiccups witnessed on this trip.
Embassy officials are now pointing at each other and trading blames as some confided that already there were signals that heads will roll. A meeting has already been fixed for sometime this week, precisely after the departure of the President, where they plan to find out what really happened ‘a medicine after death approach.’
“It will be shocking if no one is held accountable for this kind of embarrassment. The President is yet to say anything about it and that is not a good sign” a senior official Presidency official also on the trip, said.


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