Sun, 07 May 2023 Feature Article

Nigerian Embassy in Austria, Ahamefule and Dr Okonkwo: What went wrong?

Nigerian Embassy in Austria, Ahamefule and Dr Okonkwo: What went wrong?

This is the genesis of what caused confusion within the executives of the National Association of Nigerian Community Austria (NANCA), perplexed the Nigerian community in Austria to the shocking expose of the very high disappointing and poor quality leadership of Dr Jude Okonkwo, Thomson Oliha and the executives of the Nigerian ethnic leaders, and how they lowly mismanaged the complaints against “Mama put” (food vendor) inside the Nigerian Embassy hall in Vienna, the temporary seizure of one’s telephone inside the embassy and the extra charges of €50 and €30/€100 by the embassy from every visa and passport applicant after paying the fees as stipulated online at the Nigerian Immigration Services website etc., and how issues were propelled by NANCA’s incompetence to escalation.

Ordinarily the complaints and many that are to come are issues the executives of NANCA and the Nigerian ethnic leaders should have in unity championed themselves in the interest of Nigerians in Austria they were elected to protect supposedly, but no. Instead Nigerians are witnessing attacks on the image, integrity and reputation of the messenger – Uzoma Ahamefule – through their irrational and laughable communiqués of lies, and the intimidation and persecution of some concerned Nigerians by Ambassador S. D. Umar who unbelievably took their names to the Austrian police.

The silly mistakes ethnic leaders made with their communiqués were embarrassing. Some of them are well educated, lived long in Austria and are highly respected people in the society because of the positions they held in some international organisations like UN or are still holding in Austria, and ought to have known better that their actions of suspending Uzoma Ahamefule from NANCA is so shameful because he is not a member of NANCA. Again, that their announcement of restricting his movement is correspondingly awkward because it is not in conformity with the Austrian law, thus they do not have such power they arrogated to themselves to limit anyone’s movement in Austria.

My telephone conversation with Dr Jude Okonkwo, and the beginning of how issues escalated

After my article, “Shocking: The waiting room of the Nigerian Embassy in Vienna, Austria, turns to a ‘Mama put’ joint” was published, Dr Jude Okonkwo called me. He told me that he was not against the content of what I had written, but that I should know that he was the president of Nigerians in Austria. And that he did not understand why I did not want to respect him. He said if it was because he was my friend, or because he was an Igbo man. I told him that I did not really understand how disrespect and being an Igbo man came in here. However, I asked him if he was aware that food was actually being sold at the embassy. He said he was not contesting that but that I should have respected him and come to him first as the Nigerian president to discuss the issue. I then told him that he was not the Ambassador and did not work at the embassy and therefore I did not consider it necessary to see him. I went on and explained to him that I had written the embassy – which I felt was the right place to contact – seeking the audience of Ambassador S. D. Umar to privately discuss on this topic and other issues like I had done with some past ambassadors, but had been ignored. Again, I told him that I did not owe him any explanation nor need his permission to air my view, and that what was important was that whatever I say or write should not infringe on the rights of others and should be true. And I requested if I could call him back because I could not continue. He agreed.

I could not call him that day as I had promised but did so the next day. Immediately he picked my call, the first thing he asked was, and I quote, “Ahamefule, are you ready to apologize now?” And I asked him, ‘Apologize for what?’ He quickly said, “Okay. I know what to do. I will tell them that you are sorry.” I again asked him, ‘You will tell which people that I am sorry’? He replied that I should know that he was the father of all Nigerians here and that if there had been any problem I should have come to him first. I now said to myself that the situation was no longer a joke. Like the story of Nostradamus, “The man who saw tomorrow,” I told him that from my years of reporting as a blogger, my experience told me that he sounded like one that would like to write a rejoinder. I advised him to please not to do that if my assumption of his plan should be correct. I told him to remember that in the past we had a similar problem here in Vienna with the then NANCA president and also the then ambassador and that it did not end well. It was only through the intervention of the then Foreign Affairs Minister late Ambassador Gbenga Ashiru – may his gentle soul rest in peace – that peace was restored between the ambassador and myself, while the then Nigerian ethnic leaders finished up what the minister started and brokered peace between the NANCA president and myself. It was one of the periods we had many ethnic leaders full of wisdom that commanded great respect - from Edo community to Ododuwa, Igbo, Rivers and Esan etc. I told Dr Okonkwo that I would not want a repeat of that again, and that if he had forgotten what had happened that he should please ask.

At this point he reluctantly but clearly told me that he had been under intense pressure. And I asked him, “Under pressure from who? You are not working at the embassy, you are not the spokesperson of the embassy, and you are not the ambassador, so, why should you be under pressure?” I told him that if he should be under pressure, it could imply that he was either perhaps seeking for help or favour from the ambassador or the embassy for that could be a reason he would be under “heavy pressure” like he said to take up the silly assignment of writing a rejoinder to an issue that had not concerned him, and if he should allow himself to be disgraced that I would help to disgrace him more. I then told him that from that moment he should never call me again unless it was something official because I could not trust him anymore. I made it very clear to him that what I wrote were facts that he himself should know, and no reasonable person argues fact, and anything he writes as a rejoinder would be lies and shameful. In his response at this juncture, he sounded very reasonable, and told me that I was very correct. “I am not working at the embassy. I am not the ambassador, and there should not be any reason for me to be disturbed,” he said.

“Okay. I know what to do. I will organize a Zoom meeting inviting you and the ambassador. What do you think?” he asked me. I told him that I did not think anything because I was not part of his organization, therefore what I thought should be irrelevant. He should ask his group. But if he wanted to invite me for a Zoom meeting, he should send an invitation to me stating why he was inviting me, and if I found it worthy that I would respond, and we ended the conversation.

How I extensively tried to avoid the problem we are seeing today

After my discussion with him, I called someone I considered as his close friend in Sankt Pölten and narrated to him my telephone conversation with his friend Dr Okonkwo. I told him that I had advised Okonkwo not to write any rejoinder to an article that had not been addressed to him as a person nor to his office as NANCA president because anything he would write against the facts of what I wrote would be a glaring lie that would not be good to his image, and pleaded with him to kindly call him and advise him to retreat from the envisaged steps of writing a rejoinder. I also called the former NANCA President Nze Louis Asuzu, told him the same thing and equally pleaded for his intervention. He promised to call him and get back to me, which he did. I did not stop there. I painstakingly called seven other persons and also the Igbo Chairman Chris Ajuzie narrated the same conversation I had with Dr Okonkwo and begged them to intervene and persuade him to allow reasons to prevail. All my efforts to avoid the troubles and problems that are happening today were to no avail.

How did I wrong Dr Okonkwo, NANCA and Nigerian ethnic leaders in Vienna?

Please, how did I – Uzoma Ahamefule – wrong the executives of NANCA, Nigerian ethnic leaders in Vienna (Igbo, Yoruba, Edo, Esan, Rivers), Dr Okonkwo and the Igbo Chairman Chris Ajuzie who is another tragedy of a choice as the Chairman of Ndigbo in Austria – which I will elaborate on later?

Why should I be crucified?
Why should some names of Nigerians living in Austria who only amicably and lawfully sought the attention of Ambassador S. D. Umar to discuss the issues affecting Nigerians in Austria be badly projected and given to the Austrian police by the same Ambassador S. D. Umar? What did they do wrong?

Uzoma Ahamefule, a concerned patriotic citizen and a refined African traditionalist, writes from Vienna, Austria.

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