Committed Diplomat

Brushing aside the delay which trailed his clearance by the Senate, Polycarp Ogbonna Nwite is riding high as Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Botswana

If patriotism means love and commitment to one’s country then Senator Polycarp Nwite, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the Republic of Botswana has every reason to lay claim to that expression. For so long his attempt to join the ranks of Ambassador-designate was frustrated by some members of the Senate over a phantom security report which allegedly indicted Nwite for past misdemeanor. Also indicted by the security report were two other ambassadorial nominees: Brig-Gen Buba Marwa (retd.), the former military administrator of Lagos State and Dr. Kema Chikwe, former minister of Aviation. Finally, the trio were cleared, paving way for Senator Nwite to present his credentials to the President of Botswana in Gaborone as Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Botswana.

Propelled by Ojo Maduekwe’s citizen diplomacy policy, Nwite is working assiduously to register his imprint as an astute envoy. Reports from the southern Africa country indicate that Nwite is deploying both service and leadership skills to maximum advantage. The result is that bilateral relations between Nigeria and Botswana have assumed a new tempo since his arrival in Gaborone. For example, early last month, Botswana’s political stakeholders were in Abuja under the auspices of the Africa Congress of Women in Politics and Governance. The delegation was in Nigeria to understudy the country’s democratic experience within the last nine years. Similarly in the economic sphere, the Nwite era is witnessing a huge volume of business transaction between Nigerian economic operators and their counterparts in Botswana. Beyond recording a significant upsurge in bilateral trade statistics, Ambassador Nwite has been selling the vision and mission of the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration to his host country. Recently, the Bostwana media was awash with reports about the Seven-Point Agenda of the Yar’Adua administration.

Taking full advantage of the gathering of Bostswana’s political and business class as well as Nigerians resident in that country to celebrate Nigeria’s Independence Day, the ambassador unleashed a generous dose of the Yar’Adua agenda on his audience.

Nwite informed the gathering at Nigeria House in Gaborone that President Yar’Adua’s goals and programmes are aimed at making Nigeria one of the world’s 20 largest economies by the year 2020, raising the living standard of Nigerians and achieving the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs.

The High Commissioner told his audience that “our economy is not doing badly with an average growth rate of about 6.9 per cent, a single digit inflation rate, external reserves of about US$63billion and the Naira appreciating steadily against the major currencies”. Nwite attributed all these to the Yar’Adua government’s economic policies aimed at maintaining relative stability and predictability in Nigeria’s macro-economic environment.

Before concluding his diplomatic homilies, the Ebonyi State-born politician found time to comment on Nigeria’s problematic transport and agricultural sectors and the volatile Niger-Delta. The diplomat informed the guests that in the spirit of Yar’Adua’s seven-point agenda, the government has evolved a holistic strategy for the development and rehabilitation of the nation’s transport system via plans for the concession of most economically viable roads across the country and road sector development scheme estimated to cover 5,700 km.

In the case of railways, the High Commissioner told his audience that existing rail routes in Nigeria, including the Western and Eastern rail lines as well as the uncompleted central line would soon receive attention. Commenting on the restive Niger Delta, Nwite informed the gathering that the creation of the Niger Delta Ministry by President Yar’Adua was one of the measures designed by the government to frontally tackle the region’s problems.

Nwite ended his message by calling on Nigerians resident in Botswana to live as a closely knitted family and project Nigeria’s image positively in all their undertakings. For Phanta Skelemani, the host Foreign Affairs Minister, Botswana has always looked up to Nigeria as a big brother. The minister recalled that Nigeria was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with Botswana immediately after its independence and expressed joy that Nigeria has ever since been supportive of his country in the areas of education and health among others.

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