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A country’s foreign relations are as good as those who run it, hence the continued arson and assault on Nigeria and her citizens abroad by countries that are less endowed. The laissez-faire approach to leadership by the incumbent Ministers of Foreign Affairs are no doubt responsible for this unmitigated affront on Nigeria by advanced and even beggar nations write our Diplomatic correspondent LINUS ALEKE.

 

Nigeria is now a laughing stock amongst the comity of nations, especially at the diplomatic arena, even when its countrymen are making sterling contributions to better the world on the global front.

For instance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO), Amina Muhammed, Deputy Secretary-General of United Nations (UN), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank (ADB), Dr. Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, the Secretary-General of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), amongst several others who are doing pretty well in all fields of human endeavor at the international arena.

There are several other Nigerians too numerous to mention that are breaking the glass ceiling and leading their fields by contributing tremendously to the advancement of the human race, yet Nigeria as a sovereign state is treated with scorn at the international stage due to some obvious reasons.

Chiefly amongst the reasons experts said is the placement of square pegs in round holes by the incumbent administration, especially when it concerned the foreign relations management.

The two serving Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Nigeria they averred are not only misfits for the position but ambassadors of disgrace and disrepute to the Nigerian State.

Therefore, while we may forgive the usual diplomatic tantrum from western power due to a false sense of superiority arising from colonial malfeasance, stereotypes, and unfounded white supremacy, it is unfortunate that those in the hunger-stricken Asian continent and even our sister African nations are also spitting into our eyes as a nation.

Or how do you explain the trending video of Indonesian Immigration officials manhandling a Nigerian diplomatic agent as a dog or wide animal that escaped from the zoo?

If not for the grace of God upon the Nigerian diplomat and his ability to withstand pain and hardship which of course is the only advantage the harsh socio-economic situation back home accords every one of her citizens, the George Floid episode would have re-enacted itself in Jakarta.

Unfortunately, the stories of this diplomatic immunity against the Nigerian state are the same in all the assaulting countries. From Ghana where goats are accorded more respect by Ghanaian authorities than Nigerian citizens and their diplomatic mission to South Africa where the killing of Nigerians by its state and nonstate agents are things of pride, to China where the Nigerian penis is a choice delicacy and brutality of Nigerians a status symbol amongst state agents and law enforcement agencies, to Indonesia where brutalizing of a Nigerian diplomat is a hubby of immigration officials.

While efforts by some contracted Public Relations agents to discredit the story of interception of a container loaded with human penises from Nigeria, which was heading to China, the officials of the Embassy in Nigeria as well as Nigerian officials that are tasked with the responsibility of addressing such issues have continued to maintain noisy silence.

Meanwhile, that is a topic for another day as the issue begging for public attention is the recent assault on Nigerian diplomats in Indonesia.

The reactions that followed the gruesome assault prominently and proudly showcases the nonchalant and laissez-faire style of the current crops of Foreign Ministers in Nigeria.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs only invited the Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria to find out what happened and express displeasure. Even when the video is tearing down cyberspace and social media platforms, the Minister held this meeting behind closed doors, excluding the press.

When he eventually remembered to involve the press through a press briefing, he only announced that the Nigerian Ambassador to Indonesia has been recalled to give further clarification on the diplomatic fisticuff.

The statement by the ministry on the issue was so watery to an extent that if given the same opportunity, the Indonesian immigration officials would not think twice to assault even the Nigerian Ambassador himself.

Immigration of every country falls within the foreign relations ecosystem going by their role in issuing international passports and ensuring that illegal immigrants do not flood their country.

So, the Immigration officials knowingly assaulted the Nigerian diplomat because they know that nothing extraordinary will happen. After all, they understand the privileges accorded diplomats in a foreign land. Would they have done that if it were the US, France, UK, Russia, South Africa, Ghana, or even Rwanda diplomats, capital ‘NO’ is the answer?

Regrettably, our foreign relations handlers proved the thinking and perception of the immigration officials that nothing will happen right.

This atrocious act was not only perpetrated against Nigeria but international laws and protocols.

Below is the watery and inconsequential statement by the ministry on such serious diplomatic impunity and bridge against the Nigerian state and its envoy.

According to the statement, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in receipt of a report and has seen a video in circulation regarding an unacceptable incident in Jakarta, Indonesia, concerning the manhandling and arrest of a Nigerian Diplomatic Agent in front of his official quarters on 7 August 2021.

“This unfortunate incident is against international law and the Vienna Conventions governing Diplomatic and Consular Relations between States.

“The Nigerian Government has complained strongly to the Government of Indonesia, and the Ambassador of Indonesia to Nigeria was summoned by the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs.  The Ambassador explained what he understood happened and apologized unreservedly on behalf of the Government of Indonesia. The Nigerian Government has sent an official protest to the Government of Indonesia.

“The Ambassador of Nigeria to Indonesia has confirmed that the immigration officials involved had since come to the Nigerian Embassy to apologize to the Ambassador and the diplomat concerned”.

However, this brings to mind the Ghana-Nigeria diplomatic face-off. Though the Ghanaian authorities have not fulfilled their promise of rebuilding the residential quarters it demolished inside the Nigerian High Commission Building in Accra, it is on record that the Minister of Information and Culture had to step in to issue a strong statement on the matter when those tasked with the responsibility were busy with their usual laissez-faire style of handling serious diplomatic issues.

The Government of Ghana was forced to send a high-powered delegation to negotiate with Nigeria on the escalating diplomatic fight. The Ghanaian President was quoted as saying that when he read the statement issued by the Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture, he was compelled to call President Buhari to appeal for calm.

Maybe Lai Mohammed has to do something to put Indonesian authorities in their proper place. Is it not the same Indonesia that came here to beg us to support them with oil palm seeds?

But while we patiently waited for the President to instruct the Minister of Information to do the needful, the Association of Foreign Relations Professionals of Nigeria (AFRPN) out of patriotism stepped in without prompting.

In a statement signed by its President, Amb Gani Lawal Ph.D., the association condemns in the strongest terms the illegal arrest and the dehumanizing strangulation of an accredited Nigerian diplomatic agent, Mr. Mohammed Buba, by the officials of the Indonesian Immigration Service as widely displayed on social media.

The association also recommended the immediate disengagement of all the Indonesian immigration officers involved in such an uncivilized manner to desecrate the age-long tradition of inviolability of diplomatic agent and their family and property as provided by Article 29 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961) which states that; “Diplomats must not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. They are immune from civil or criminal prosecution”.

Recommending the appropriate diplomatic instrument to use to deter Indonesia and others from repeating such on Nigerians, the AFRPN said that while the Ministry is still reviewing the state of our bilateral relations with Indonesia, a robust reaction is being awaited by the Association to serve as a deterrent to a future occurrence of such treatment to any of our diplomats and embassy home-based staffs and indeed any Nigerian citizen from anywhere across the globe. It also supported the position of the house committee on diplomatic relations to move to invoke Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to declare everyone at the Indonesian Embassy in Abuja a persona non grata if their nation’s authorities failed to effectively explain their actions against the Nigerian diplomatic agent.

“The AFRPN strongly recommends that the family of the concerned diplomat must be adequately compensated materially and health-wise for the traumatic treatment meted to them while public apology satisfactory to the Nigerian people and government must be entered and assurance against repeat occurrence must be given. The AFRPN would like to reaffirm its support for Nigeria’s commitment to the Vienna Convention and peaceful relations with all countries, she should not tolerate the maltreatment and targeting of Nigerians by foreign governments or abuse of Nigerian consular officers and citizens under any circumstances,” the statement added.

The statement concluded that the step taken by MFA after receiving the missions report by inviting home the Nigerian ambassador for consultation while expecting the Indonesian ambassador to tow the diplomatic avenue by equally returning to Jakarta until satisfactory explanation and necessary restitutive steps are taken by Indonesian authorities to assuage frayed nerves is commendable.


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