By Victoria Ojeme
ABUJA—A former United Nations, UN, Deputy Permanent Representative, and President of Association of Career Ambassadors of Nigeria, ARCAN, Ambassador Oladapo Fafowora, has warned that increasing number of non- career ambassadors and paucity of career ambassadors are hurting Nigeria’s image abroad.
Fafowora who spoke in Abuja at an inaugural lecture delivered at the first Foreign Service lecture 2018, organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discussing the emerging issues in the Nigerian foreign policy, contended that if the Nigerian Foreign Service was to regain its lost glory it must address urgently the politicalisation of the foreign service.
According to him: “It was reported recently in the global media that the US Foreign Service Association had condemned the Trump administration for appointing too many non-career ambassadors, warning that this trend was undermining the efficiency and professionalism of the US foreign service. In Nigeria too, in recent years, the number of non-career ambassadors being appointed by the president is increasing, exceeding that of career ambassadors. The current ratio is 60 non-career ambassadors to 40 career ambassadors. Of course, a few non-career ambassadors have distinguished themselves in their foreign postings.”
He however noted that the vast majority of the ambassadors lacked the necessary intellectual background, experience, discipline, and character to merit being appointed ambassadors, saying “This hurts our country very badly. It is bad for our international image. It is not right that ambassadorial appointments should be handed out as political patronage, in a system of outdoor relief, without much discretion, or regard for professional standards, and competence.”