President Tinubu summoned all Nigerian diplomats, both professional and non-professional, on September 2. They were instructed to enter the nation by October 31 or earlier. There are about 300 foreign missions in Nigeria.
Recall that Top Trends Nigeria in our recent publication reported President Bola Tinubu recalled all ambassadors, both career and non-career appointed by Former President Muhammadu Buhari who in July 2020 appointed 41 non-career ambassadors and 42 career ambassadors to man the nation’s foreign diplomatic missions.
The diplomats were deployed after they were confirmed by the Senate in accordance with Section 171(2)(1c) and Subsection 4 of the 1999 Constitution.
The statement confirming the recall of the ambassadors states: “Sequel to the inquiries on the letter recalling the Nigerian ambassador to the UK, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, has clarified that all career ambassadors and non-career ambassadors have been recalled on the instructions of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“Ambassadors as representatives of the country serve at the behest of the President and it’s his prerogative to send or recall them from any country.”
The clarification became necessary over the recall of Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Sarafa Ishola.
In a letter dated August 31, 2023, and addressed to Ishola by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tuggar wrote: “I have the honor to notify you of Mr. President’s decision to recall you, signaling the end of your tenure as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the United Kingdom.
“By this communication, you are now expected to commence the proposed winding down of your affairs, and take formal leave of your host government within sixty days, and return to Nigeria by 31st October 2023 at the latest.
“I seize this opportunity to express Mr. President’s appreciation for the service you have rendered in your capacity as Nigeria’s Ambassador and Principal Representative in the United Kingdom.
“While looking forward to welcoming you in Abuja on your return, please allow me to join Mr. President in thanking your Excellency for your exemplary leadership and service to Nigeria. I wish you God’s continued guidance in your future endeavors.
“Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurance of my highest consideration.”
The Federal Government was dragging its feet with implementation and had not given the envoys AIEs (Authority to Incur Expenditures) for their travels, leaving them stuck. The AIE outlines each envoy’s specific rights with regard to their passes and other travel arrangements to return to Nigeria. The AIEs were released, but it was discovered that there was no cash-backing, therefore their stay was extended until January 2024.
The process of recalling and replacing ambassadors, according to several diplomats, takes between six and eight months, so they worried that the three-month extension might not be long enough to get it done. The ambassador claimed that the President Tinubu Administration has not had enough time to conduct the requisite consultations for the recruitment of replacements for the departing ambassadors because of the early difficulties any new government faces in settling down. 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.”