Posted November 23, 2006

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Nigerian Ambassador to the Netherlands Mrs. (Prof.) Mary Lar has been relieved of her position. In a letter sent to her dated 14th November, 2006 titled “Recall” stated that the presidency wishes to recall the Nigerian Ambassador back to Nigeria with immediate effect. The letter was signed by the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed.

I wish to state clearly that the Nigerian community here in the Netherlands is deeply saddened with the news of the ambassador’s recall. Prof (Mrs.) Mary Lar distinguished herself as the best ambassador to have sat in this position here in The Hague. Since her appointment as the Nigerian ambassador to the Netherlands, she has brought together Nigerians from all religious and ethnic background. Until her arrival, the Nigerian embassy in The Hague was a grave yard with virtually no activity. Her arrival brought life into the activities of the embassy. Nigerians can now have a sense of belonging, with passport being issued within the stipulated period. Visa applications can be submitted and collected the same day. She has availed herself in virtually every conference, seminar, cultural and organizational meetings that she has been invited. She has presented papers in many Dutch meetings showcasing the positive side of Nigeria as a country.

She has presided over two visits of the Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo to the Netherlands. In the president’s speech he even acknowledged the good work of our dear ambassador. She contributed immensely to the success of the Nigerian U-21 national team, the flying eagles during the world cup hosted by the Netherlands. She rallied Nigerians in the Netherlands together during the loss of the nation’s first lady Mrs. Stella Obasanjo. She even recognized the personal contributions of Nigerians living in the Netherlands by the setting up an annual award ceremony to reward Nigerians for their hard work and promotion of Nigerian good image here in the country. She used her good office to intervene in the cases of Nigerians who were treated unjustly by the Dutch authorities over their immigration status.

It was in her tenure that Nigeria witnessed the highest number of Dutch investors migrating to Nigeria despite the huge challenges caused by the political unrest in Nigeria ranging from religious crisis to militia activities in the Niger Delta. She created an open door policy where you can bring your problems directly to her. She stood personally like a mother to many individual Nigerians. Her departure will leave an empty vacuum that will be difficult to fill.

Possible reason for her recall

In a normal democratic dispensation, when there is a recall of this nature it then means that there is need for a better change with the incumbent giving way to the injection of new blood. But as an avid follower of the political situation back home in Nigeria, her recall was a time bomb ready to explode anytime. It may have come as a surprise to many Nigerians here who may not know who the man Obasanjo is. I was among the very few whose Obasanjo policies have never deceived. If I was even surprised then my surprise is that the recall came even too late. The political imbroglio that has brought the second republic civilian governor of Plateau state, founding member and first chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Solomon Lar on the opposite side must have led to the recall of the ambassador who happens to be his wife.

Chief Solomon Lar was a staunch critic of the Obasanjo's political tricks to prolong his stay in power beyond his constitutional term. As a true democrat who respects the nation’s constitution, he personal encouraged the embattled ex-governor of Anambra state Dr. Chris Ngige. Reports linking the elder statesmen to the Chief Shuaib Oyedokun led faction of the PDP may have unsettled the presidency. His recent open criticism of the policies of the presidency and refusal to toe the line of the infamous government led by president Obasanjo may have led to plans by the presidency to isolate him in the political wilderness. Recently Chief Solomon Lar questioned the impeachment of ex governor Dariya of Plateau state. He clearly stated that he was against corruption but constitution should be followed in carrying out impeachment. For those who know that the motto of this administration is that “you are either for us or against us” will not see the recall of his wife as a matter of administrative restructuring.

The underlining point of this recall is that you are no longer judged by your performance but by the strength of your loyalty. You are either stripped of your political appointment or a ban is placed on your area of business or the EFCC is given the empowerment to chase you with questionable corruption charges. In this case it is not the Lar’s family that has been dealt a big blow as the presidency may think, but we the Nigerian residents living in the Netherlands.

Below is a paper presented by her Excellency the out-going Nigerian Ambassador to the Netherlands.

Comrade Sunny Ofehe
Hope for Niger Delta Campaign, HNDC
The Netherlands.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by expressing how impressed and appreciative I am of the Nigerian community here in the Netherlands. I wish to acknowledge the spirit of patriotism that Nigerians demonstrated during the National Day celebrations, the President’s visit and to the National Team at the Youth FIFA games in 2005. I must express my gratitude for your tremendous support as you continuously rallied round me whenever I called on you. I particularly recall that your care and concern, prayers and support uplifted me during my bereavement. I and my family appreciate this.

Indeed, I have been very encouraged by your show of support and participation in all major Nigeria-related events. Several of you have given outstanding contributions towards the betterment of the Embassy here in the Netherlands. You did all that in love of their country. We appreciate you all. God will reward you accordingly. It is our desire that more Nigerians will come closer to the Embassy and get involved to assist in the efforts of the Mission. The work of the Embassy is ours together. Each one of us has a role to play in the advancement of our country. Each idea, each opinion is extremely important and the Embassy is welcoming all positive and constructive ideas. The work the Embassy does reflects on all of us as Nigerians, your contributions will be invaluable. Do yourself a service by coming closer to the Embassy. Bring your business contacts, partnerships, and networks. Some of you could volunteer your time and effort to the country through the Embassy work. Do not stay away and complain but come closer and make your contributions.

The Nigerian Embassy has three major functions as part of its mission to promote the interest of the Nigerian government and its people in the Netherlands. One of the three functions is to be available to Nigerian Citizens resident in The Netherlands. Therefore, the Embassy wishes to intensify its efforts to get to know its citizens. The Embassy encourages all Nigerians resident in the Netherlands to register its presence with us. We would like to know who you are, where you are and what you do. We look forward to promoting businesses of credible Nigerians as we did with a Nigerian engaged in Fishery at our National Day Celebration last year. We wish to encourage and celebrate successes of Nigerians making positive contributions both here and back in our home country. Clearly, we will not be successful in any of these goals if we do not receive timely information from you. Therefore, we solicit your cooperation, your can start by completing the registration forms already designed by the Embassy and currently posted on our website www.

I appreciate Nigerians who receive training here and desire to return home to make their contributions to the development of the country. I was glad to have met two graduate students recently who both indicated a strong interest in returning to Nigeria. Nigeria needs all hands on deck in steering the ship of the country in the right direction. In the event that you do decide to remain here, do not forget where you come from. Continue to make sure you make your contribution to Nigeria wherever you find yourself. Let me encourage each one of you not to forget to pass on the ideas, values and traditions of Nigeria to your children. We recently came across a case of an applicant requesting a Nigerian passport who claimed the parents were from Nigeria but had no information on them especially on the local government of origin and yet requested a Nigerian passport. The Mission needs detailed information for the services rendered. We must identify your state, and Local Government of origin to issue you with a Nigerian passport, for instance.

We must address the negative image of Nigeria all around the world and particularly here in the Netherlands. It is true that the media seems to focus only on the negative events in our country. No doubt, the media continues to barrage us with images of regional, ethnic and religious conflicts, intractable corruption in the country, poverty and diseases.

While these developments are disturbing, we know that there are still many positive things that happen in our country. For instance, the number of Nigerians involved in “419” or other sharp practices like drug peddling and prostitution are quite negligible compared to the vast majority who are law abiding. However, I would like us to reflect seriously on the impact of this negativity on our country and the million innocent Nigerian citizens that this affects. I wish us to consider the causes of these negative behaviors such as 419, drugs, prostitution and many other vices. Let us seek ways to address these issues so as to stem this negative tide and put Nigeria back on the map of prosperity and goodwill. I call on all of you to collaborate with the Embassy in seeking solutions to the many challenges that beset Nigeria. I assure you that my office remains open to constructive suggestions designed to move us forward.

In a quick review of what our country experienced in the past year, we realize that our country has gone through both positive and unpleasant experiences.

A survey conducted prior to the major disasters of the recent months identified Nigerians as the happiest people on earth. I wonder if the same can still be said of Nigerians today. It is also said that an international comment identifies Nigerians as the most hard working people on earth but with nothing to show for the hard work. I have to dispute this assertion, as I believe that Nigeria has plenty to show for the hard work of the past years. Nigeria has secured debt-relief; it is beginning to see some changes in the war against corruption, and we are certainly seeing a cleaner environment in our country especially in our capital city Abuja. Here in the Netherlands we were able to improve our relations with our host government, a situation that led to a relaxation of the stringent visa requirements for students. We also recorded an increase in our visa issuances indicating an upsurge in the number of Dutch visiting our country.

Unfortunately, our country also witnessed devastating plane crashes and the death of our first lady, Chief (Mrs.) Stella Obasanjo. Here in the Netherlands, we had some challenges with Nigerians and their immigration status.

As the year’s go-by, we cherish all the successes and learn from the failures and challenges of these past years. Let us put some issues that are in the past, in the past, while we set new goals for the years ahead that will positively affect our societies both here and at home.

In looking forward to a brighter future, let me exhort you to support our country, our president and the people of Nigeria in attracting investors and tourists to our country. Undoubtedly, our country has immense wealth and untapped potentials. We encourage all available assistance in expertise and other resources for exploring our untapped potential. I encourage you to identify credible investors we can attract to our country. Thanks to those who have assisted the embassy in this endeavor in the past. I call on all Nigerians to create an enabling environment for the investors. You can begin from where you are. Your behaviour tells a lot about your home; your interaction with others is a reflection of the country. Let us be at our best in all things at all times and let us project a good image of our nation and ourselves.

Nigerians have always been people of faith. Let me seize this opportunity to wish you the best in your endeavor in the years to come. Let us declare the coming years as years of hope, years of new beginnings, and years of breakthroughs.

Thank you and God bless you all.

Prof. (Mrs.) Mary N. Lar


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