Matthew Page, the immediate past US intelligence expert on Nigeria has condemned the meeting between American officials and Information Minister, Lai Mohammed.
Page blew hot on Saturday after a U.S. Mission in Nigeria post on Twitter. A photo of senior cabinet members with the President Muhammadu Buhari appointee accompanied it.
“We’re pleased that Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed met with @ECA_AS Matthew Lussenhop & @ECAatState colleagues to discuss potential bilateral cultural heritage property collaboration and ongoing education and exchange programs”, the tweet reads.
In his reaction, Page, an associate fellow at Chatham House, expressed disgust that the officials met Mohammed.
He reminded America that the parley took place despite the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain’s declaration that the Federal Government of Nigeria “will not rest until social media is regulated”.
He wrote: “I just don’t understand why @USinNigeria, @AsstSecStateAF, @ECAatState thinks engaging with a lead architect of #TwitterBan & a lead propagandist for an increasingly authoritarian government is good foreign policy. Along with countless Nigerians, this tweet makes me cringe.”
Page clarified that he wasn’t against bilateral engagement on cultural heritage/property, saying Nigeria’s heritage sites/materials, are underresourced and underappreciated.
“But systemic corruption, waste and mismanagement by top FMIC (Federal Ministry of Information and Culture) officials and their predecessors (ad infinitum) is one major reason (not the only one, of course) why Nigeria’s culture heritage has not been properly safeguarded for future generations.”
The one-time deputy national intelligence officer for Africa, National Intelligence Council, stressed that NCMM (National Commission for Museums and Monuments) exist only for the sake of federal allocation.
He said the agency is not working for the marginalized workforce, the country’s historical and cultural sake, but for “the vampires of national resources”.
Page further quoted Mohammed as admitting that Nigeria has not yet done enough “to stop our own people and to convince them to protect their own cultural heritage”