August 19, 2013

Ex-envoy laments politicization of foreign service


ABUJA—Retired Foreign Service veteran, Ambassador Dahiru Suleiman, Sunday, lamented undue politicization of Nigeria Foreign service. The diplomat said political appointees constituted more than 60 percent of envoys.

Ambassador Suleiman who retired from the foreign service five years ago, rose through the rank to serve as Nigerian envoys in several diplomatic posts, including Pakistan, Brazil, Angola , United States of America, Ivory Coast, Poland, Austral and twice in Sudan, among other countries.

The former Nigerian envoy also frowned at the disregard for statutory requirements that only three non-career diplomats should be appointed as ambassadors by successive governments.

He lamented that this practice not only diminished the importance of such diplomatic posts where a political appointee was posted, but also often done more damage to Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives in the host countries.

Speaking with Vanguard, Ambassador Dahiru stressed the need for government to reconsider the retirement policy of the foreign service, insisting that the policy of retirement at 60 years or 35 years of service, whichever came first, had robbed the foreign service of professionals and by extension loss of much of the needed skills.

Speaking on the need for a rethink on the large number of political appointees as ambassadors, he said: “I was a professional, I spent all my adult life in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Will I be happy if you bring someone from nowhere and make him ambassador over and above me? No.

“I don’t think what Nigeria is doing is right. You can do your research work, you will not find any country that appoints so many politicians as ambassadors. I have said it and I will continue to say it. Every country in the world is professionalizing but in Nigeria, instead of professionalizing, we are politicizing and we should de-emphasize that. Professional work should be left to the professionals. I have said it, when I was in Brazil.”