Gaborone mayor, Haskins Nkaigwa, failed to show up at a ceremony held a short distance from his office to pray for the safe return of the 230 Nigerian girls who have been abducted by a terrorist group that calls itself Boko Haram. The mayor was to give welcome remarks at the event which was held at Thornhill Primary School.
Some 20 or so minutes after the arrival of the guest of honour, Nigerian Deputy High Commissioner, Obla Ojeka-Eje, the director of ceremonies (as indeed everybody else) was champing at the bit. One of the organisers, Martha Naledi, who is the Chief Commissioner of the Botswana Girl Guides Association, said she would give the mayor five more minutes to show up.
The time passed and he had still not arrived. Giving up on him, she announced to an audience of parents, Thornhill students, Gaborone Choral Society and members of BOGGA who had gathered inside the school hall that “I think we will leave the mayor behind.” And indeed he was and when she took to the podium, Ojeka-Eje acknowledged Nkaigwa by noting his absence. In his defence, Nkaigwa says that the organisers invited him to participate in the remembrance “at the last minute” – Tuesday.
While he says that he made no firm confirmation that he would attend, he nonetheless agreed to be included in the programme. On the day of the remembrance, he realised that he wouldn’t be able to attend on account of a prior engagement he had overlooked and asked his secretary to convey his apologies by telephone. The option of delegating one of his councillors who were at Town Hall on that day was out, he says, because they were all attending a committee meeting. On the other hand, BOGGA’s National Advisor, Sethokgo Sechele, which organised the event says that nobody ever called on the mayor’s behalf to apologise for his failure to attend the Bring Back Our Girls event.
Eyebrows were raised last month when Nkaigwa didn’t feature at the opening ceremony of the Africa Youth Games and it was suggested that he had been snubbed because he belongs to the opposition. However, when she appeared before the Public Accounts Committee about a week ago, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, Ruth Maphorisa, said that the mayor was in the habit of snubbing the ministry’s invitations. However, he denied that, saying in a media interview that he recalled only one event that he couldn’t attend.