The Words of the Rigney Family
Dear Dr. Walsh:
As you know, after having received an official invitation from the president of Nigeria for True Parents to come to his inauguration, Dr. Yang was sent by True Parents to represent them at the event which was to be attended by many heads of state and international VIPs. In fact, a record number of 28 heads of state attended the inauguration along with hundreds of other high level dignitaries from around the world. The following report outlines the course of that visit which included three separate encounters with President Jonathan and meetings with a number of prominent national and international statesmen and business leaders.
Dr. Yang arrived in Abuja in the late afternoon and was met at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport by a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a protocol officer who escorted him through formalities and had a convoy of official cars ready to take him to the Sheraton Hotel where the ministry had prepared a luxury suite in the name of Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Also waiting to meet him at the airport was Senate Deputy President Ibrahim Mantu, who had met Dr. Yang in Las Vegas during a VIP Divine Principle workshop. The senator was anxious to return the hospitality Dr. Yang had shown him in Las Vegas. So he took Dr. Yang to the hotel in his own car and later invited him to dinner and gave him a special tour of Abuja.
The ministry of foreign affairs provided rooms, meals, ground transportation and a protocol officer on duty 24/7 to make sure Dr. Yang's stay was comfortable and that he could go where he needed to go for the events and receive the highest consideration. The Permanent Secretary for the Foreign Ministry also came to greet Dr. Yang at the hotel.
Courtesy visits to African Business Roundtable President (AU) Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and to the former Attorney General and Justice Minister Kanu Godwin Agabi who is a Special Advisor to the President (May 28th)
Nigeria is fortunate to have several very high level Peace Ambassadors who are also members of UPF-Nigeria's board of trustees. Most prominent among these is Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. Alhj. Tukur is a wealthy businessman and investor who has served Nigeria as minister of Industry, Governor of his home state and Special Advisor to every Nigerian head of state since Yakubu Gowon ruled in the late 1960s. He is a founding member of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and he is currently President of the African Union's African Business Roundtable which helps private foreign and African investors work out coordinated investment strategies. Alhj. Tukur helped receive True Mother and Hyo Jin Nim in 2006 at the same time President Jonathan (then governor) sponsored the conference. He was deeply moved when he read True Father's autobiography and he told President Jonathan to pay close attention to what True Father's representatives have to say. He told Dr. Yang he believes that every sentence of the autobiography has a deep message.
Alhj. Tukur said he was pleased to receive Dr. Yang as True Parent's representative and promised to work for the success of the eventual visit of our True Parents to Nigeria in person.
Former Attorney General and Minister of Justice Kanu Agabi is also currently a special advisor to the president of Nigeria in the area of ethics and good governance. He is a Christian from the south of Nigeria and a member of the organizing committee for President Jonathan's inauguration. He also said he looked forward to an opportunity to organize an official reception in Nigeria for our True Parents in person and hoped to come to Las Vegas one day to attend one of our programs After visiting these two VIPs, Dr. Yang visited Nigeria's Peace Embassy. The Embassy has recently been completely cleaned out of all occupants in preparation for major renovation work. A reputable construction company is preparing to start the renovation.
One of the outstanding features of Nigeria is the fervent faith in God of both the Christian and Muslim communities. It has been a tradition since independence for each elected president to hold a special thanksgiving prayer service both at the national Cathedral and at the National Mosque. Our True Parents were offered seats among visiting presidents and diplomats at the front and center of the cathedral for the 2-hour service conducted by several of Nigeria's most famous Christian leaders. President Jonathan and his family were seated to one side of the pulpit. Dr. Yang said he was deeply inspired by the quality and the fervor of the sermons.
At the end of the service, President Jonathan briefly shook hands and greeted the guests in the first two rows of the church as he was walking out, including Dr. Yang.
Attendance of the Inaugural Banquet was strictly limited to the highest level VIPs: only 400 people out of all the thousands of local and foreign dignitaries were given invitations. Dr. Yang was given the seat reserved for our True Parents just behind President Jonathan at a table reserved for presidents and vice presidents.
After the 3-hour dinner and program, Dr. Yang found himself swept up in a group of about 30 presidents, vice presidents and prime ministers who filed past President Jonathan and his wife who greeted each one in turn. Other guests were channeled off toward a different exit. In the middle of this distinguished group, Dr. Yang met President Jonathan and offered him greetings and blessings from our True Parents.
At 8:30 the next morning a special government car brought Dr. Yang to the special red carpet section of the presidential tribunal for the outdoor inauguration ceremony and presentation organized at Eagle Square near the Nigerian Capital building. Rev. Hee Sun Ji, Regional Chair of Africa, was also able to join Dr. Yang after his plane finally arrived in Abuja after a weather delay. Again, True Parent's representatives were seated among visiting heads of state and representatives of international organizations. Parades, flyovers, synchronized dances and youth presentations were held leading up to the swearing in ceremony for the president and vice president.
The main theme focused on the youth of the nation and national unity. The entire program lasted from 10 am to 3 pm. The attendees included the presidents of Niger, Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cape Verde, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana, Uganda, Zambia, Mali, Mauritania, Malawi, Sao Tome and Principe, Rwanda, Equatorial Guinea, Lesotho, Guinea Bissau, Congo Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kenya was represented by their Vice President and the United States by the Undersecretary of State for African Affairs. There were other dignitaries representing China, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, the United Kingdom and France.
Nearly all of Nigeria's own living former heads of state were also present at the event to honor the new president.
Dr. Yang took note that in the official program handed out to all dignitaries at the inauguration there is a short profile of President Goodluck Jonathan. The profile ends with a list of honors the president has received including "recognition by the Inter-religious and International Federation for World Peace as Ambassador for Peace and Leadership and Good Governance Award which he received in July, 2006."
The next morning the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed Dr. Yang that the president would be able to receive him for a private audience just before noon on May 30th. Dr. Yang, Rev. Ji, Mrs. Rigney and Mrs. Winter met President Jonathan on behalf of our True Parents. Dr. Yang offered the president a second copy of Father's autobiography and a copy of World Scriptures – a book that happens to contain many quotations from traditional Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa religious teachings in Nigeria representing African traditional religion.
Dr. Yang repeated our True Parents message of greetings and blessings. The president received this with humility and gratitude. Dr. Yang told the president Father would like to make Nigeria a stop on an upcoming tour and the president promised to receive him officially and take care of him and his entourage on that occasion.
President Jonathan impressed Dr. Yang with his humility and reverence. He recalled fondly the visit of True Mother and Hyo Jin Nim in 2006. He said he believed God has been guiding his life in ways that leave him humbled and in awe, and he warmly welcomed the opportunity to receive our True Parents.
Meetings with former President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and with Alhaji Musa Ujah – presidential advisor and head of the federal small and medium business administration
Dr. Yang learned that former Zambian President and senior African Statesman, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda was staying in the same hotel, so he arranged to pay him a courtesy call and offered him a copy of True Father's autobiography. He also showed President Kaunda a short PowerPoint presentation of True Parents' European tour.
That same evening, Dr. Yang met with Alhaji Musa Ujah. Alhj. Ujah is a long-time friend and advisor of President Jonathan who originally introduced us to him in 2006 when he was governor of Bayelsa State. He is head of the government's Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDEN) and is chairman of the board for Strabag-Nigeria, a large scale construction company. Alhaji Ujah wants to help us create a business foundation in Nigeria that can sustain our local activities.
Dr. Yang was deeply impressed by the ways God has worked to guide the life of President Goodluck Jonathan after his support for True Parents in 2006. From nowhere, he has suddenly emerged as an amazingly popular leader of 160 million Nigerians and a rapidly growing political and economic power. At the same time, his recent election set an unprecedented example for democracy on the continent. 50 million voters cast their votes in 130,000 voting stations around the country in an internationally recognized free and fair election and gave Dr. Jonathan a two to one victory over his next runner-up opponent. For the first time, surveys showed voters voted for the man, and not for an ethnic group or party.
Goodluck told his people he would accept any outcome to the elections. When he won, he promised to lead with the "fear of God", and he told his people there were no winners and no losers in the elections. An interesting point is that the thirty-something year ruler of neighboring Cameroon stayed away from the inauguration and when visiting president Robert Mugabe was given public recognition at the banquet, he received deriding laughter instead of applause. President Jonathan promised after winning the elections that he would use his presidency to promote the democratization of Africa. Africa takes this seriously and sees Goodluck as a force of Good to be reckoned with.
President Jonathan's readiness to receive our True Parents and his considerable influence on other African heads of state open up new vistas on the level our work can reach in Africa especially toward the goal of creating a true Abel UN. And beyond Africa, a close relationship with President Jonathan can serve as a powerful testimony to the first President of the United States with African roots.