Nigerians continue to condemn Thursday’s nomination of ex-Service Chiefs by President Muhammadu Buhari who sent the names – Gen Abayomi G. Olonisakin (rtd), Lt Gen Tukur Y. Buratai (rtd),
Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (rtd), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (rtd), and Air Vice Marshal Mohammed S. Usman (rtd) – to the Senate for confirmation.
Lending his voice to the outrage, Prof Bola Akinterinwa, former Director General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affair, says such nomination is an abuse on diplomacy and foreign relations.
The former NIIA director general said Nigeria needs diplomatic careerists to engage in diplomatic negotiations, adding that political or non-career ambassadors have bastardised Nigeria’s diplomacy and foreign policy objectives in recent times.
Akinterinwa said: “It is only in Nigeria where a carpenter will want to perform the work of a pilot and where a pilot will want to go into surgical operation to perform cardiothoracic operation.
“When you bring somebody who is perfectly trained to kill to come and engage in diplomatic negotiations at a critical time that globalisation is now a major issue, I think that Mr President is making haste slowly and in this case, he is killing diplomatic initiatives well in advance, this is killing Nigeria softly.
“The main problem any of the (former) service chiefs may have is that the international community have been speculating that they have violated human rights, that under their watch some people have been killed recklessly without due regard to both international law and international humanitarian law.
“It depends on the country they will be posted to. If you send a service chief as an ambassador to the United States for instance, what will you expect? US is one of the countries that have accused the service chiefs of having violated human rights. Do you think they will be able to survive in that case in terms of negotiating skill? Not likely. If you send to Britain, the same thing.
“If you send to probably Cote D’Ivoire, Togo, Venezuela, all those places where strategic interest do not constitute the issue, in this case, yes, they may do well but you need someone who is very conversant with a very dishonest manner of operating international politics. International politics is very dishonest, everybody is struggling to undermine the other and you need a sophisticated career ambassador,” the diplomat added.
“A country can accept and may not accept (an ambassadorial appointee). The obstacle here even though there is rule of reciprocity if we name one and you refuse to accept, we too have the right to reject your own.
“But it is generally not done. When you present a candidate to a country, rather than writing you a bad letter to say they reject, they may keep quiet. So, long silence, no reply simply means rejection. That is the context under which we call them persona non grata – that is unwanted person.”
However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has described the appointment of the former service chiefs as ambassadorial nominees as a ploy by the Presidency to shield them from investigation over alleged crimes against humanity committed under their watch.
Consequently, the PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, charged the Senate to stand by the people by rejecting the nominations.
The opposition party noted that appointing the former service chiefs as ambassadors would confer diplomatic immunity on them and provide them a route for escape from investigation.
It added that government decision to appoint the immediate past service chiefs ambassadors at a time the International Criminal Court (ICC) has declared its readiness to commence full investigation on allegations them is seemingly a validation of the allegations.