According to reports, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has added three months to the term of both professional and non-career ambassadors.
Remember that on September 2, President Bola Tinubu summoned all Nigerian diplomats and demanded that they all return to Nigeria by October 31 at the latest.
The envoys, it was learned, were stuck since the Federal Government was dragging its feet with implementation and had not given them AIEs (Authority to Incur Expenditures) for their travel.
The AIEs were released, but an ambassador who wished to remain anonymous informed Vanguard on Tuesday that there was no cash-backing, thus their stay had been extended until January 2024.
The process of recalling and replacing ambassadors, which the ambassador estimated to take six to eight months, was something the ambassador said he felt the three-month extension might not be able to finish.
Nevertheless, he issued a warning that a poorly executed approach may subject Nigeria to unwanted international disgrace and embarrassment.
He said: “Following the Vanguard report, the AIEs for the passages have been sent out, but the cash backing has not been processed due to the current cash crunch facing the country. Most missions are in a serious financial mess.
“The last overhead meant for the last semester of the year, July to December, has not been sent out. Traditionally, it is received by the end of June every year. With the current exchange rate and naira depreciation, there is a serious shortfall in allocation to missions.”
He claimed that the President Tinubu Administration has not had enough time to conduct the requisite consultations for the appointment of successors for the departing ambassadors because of the early difficulties any new government faces in settling down.
The ambassador explained that if the envoys depart, all of the Nigerian missions won’t have leaders for a very long period by November 1.
The ambassador interprets this to mean that it will be challenging for President Tinubu to schedule an appointment if he wants to visit another nation.
He said: “The consequence is that if the envoys take their leave, by November 1, all the Nigerian missions will be without heads for a long time because it takes quite some time to nominate, vet, screen, confirm and receive bilateral agreement from host countries before envoys assume duties at their respective posts.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has written an advisory to Mr. President, pointing out the consequences and seeking a three-month extension to enable some housekeeping to be done for the recalled envoys.”
The ambassador bemoaned the fact that the Federal Government has not provided funding to the missions since June and suggested that the only solution is for it to adhere to the law.
He said: “As every country does, the way out is to put forward your nominees, security agencies will screen them, and they go to the Senate for confirmation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will send letters of agreement to the countries they are being posted and ask, ‘Do you agree?’
‘’The other countries will start their own investigations. Sometimes agreement takes between six to eight months. The least is two months for African countries because they will ask their security agencies to carry out thorough screening as ambassadors enjoy immunity.
‘’Sometimes, they will screen your children. The other countries allow their serving ambassadors to serve while doing the Agreement so that if the outgoing ambassador leaves this week, another ambassador will come in next week because the appointing country does not have control over the agreement.”
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