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Jonathan averts diplomatic row with EU over Lufthansa

BUT for President Goodluck Jonathan’s last minute diplomatic manoeuvres, Nigeria would have suffered irreparable damage in its relationship with the European Union (EU) and the West.

This is not unconnected with what diplomatic sources say was a move by an infuriated Germany to swing a coalition of support against what it thought was a fundamental breach of diplomatic protocols by Nigeria’s Aviation Ministry.

This was triggered by the ministry when on November 7 this year it allegedly unilaterally terminated a bilateral aviation agreement between Nigeria and Germany.

In a terse letter to the German airline, Lufthansa, the ministry through legal adviser, Bola Odugbesan, had stated that “in accordance with the provisions of Article 5 of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered into between the Honourable Minister of Aviation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Deutsche Lufthansa Aktiengeselischaft (LH) on the 10th day of November 2008, the Honourable Minister of Aviation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria hereby terminates the above mentioned Memorandum of Understanding with immediate effect.”

Diplomatic sources told The Guardian that “the action of the ministry showed absolute lack of experience and knowledge on diplomatic matters of this nature, especially one of this magnitude involving two key regional powers, like Germany and Nigeria.

“The agreement long preceded the current minister’s appointment, as the bilateral agreement came into force under the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

“The agreement was further re-affirmed during President Goodluck Jonathan’s recent state visit to Germany in April this year.”

To further acknowledge this, Germany’s Foreign Minister, Westerwelle met with Jonathan in Abuja as recent as November 2, this year.

During the visit, the minister, in company of his Nigerian counterpart, Olugbenga Ayodeji Ashiru, also opened the first meeting of the German-Nigeria Bi-national Commission.

According to the sources: “Diplomacy dictates procedures and protocols that must be followed to the letter of existing convention. The ministry displayed inexperience in terminating a bilateral agreement between states without routing it through the appropriate channels, which is the Foreign Affairs ministry.”

It was gathered from the EU offices in Abuja that the tense diplomatic moments lasting up to 72 hours were crucial, while the fiasco lasted.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was said to have been promptly briefed as soon as the crisis brewed and she set in motion a strategic meeting to enable Germany fashion out an appropriate response.

Part of the option on the table was for Germany to immediately withdraw Lufthansa and other vital resources from Nigeria, including the new supportive measures and resources on anti-terrorism.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Germany, Alhaji Abdu Usman Abubakar, was summoned to make clarifications, but his answers barely helped matters, as he was obviously not in the know.

Merkel was said to have contacted Jonathan after Germany had briefed the EU secretariat in Brussels and her key partners in the West, especially the United States (US), Canada, United Kingdom (UK) and France, who were already restive over concerns in Manitoba’s recent experience in the ongoing reforms in the power sector in Nigeria.

Sources further revealed that a direct communication between the two leaders again exposed the fact that Jonathan, Ashiru and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Adoke, were all in the dark over the ministry’s apparent unilateral action.

Jonathan was said to have calmed the German leader, assuring that the bilateral agreement was still intact.

No sooner had the conversation ended than Jonathan directed the ministry’s directive be reversed through another letter.

The letter has since been written and dispatched, it was learnt during the week.

As at press time, it was not clear whether the German government had accepted the letter, their grouse being that the letter was allegedly not routed through appropriate diplomatic channels.

Via Punch

Short URL: http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=26641

Posted by on Nov 23 2012. Filed under Africa & World Politics, Latest Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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