Recall of Ambassadors: Envoys left in doubt as FG delays implementation

    LAGOS — The Federal Government appears to have reversed course on the policy five weeks after President Bola Tinubu ordered the recall of ambassadors and 21 days before the deadline for their return on October 31. This has fueled rumors that the government may have granted them a month’s extension.

    On September 2, President Tinubu ordered the recall of every Nigerian ambassador, both professional and non-professional. There are about 300 foreign missions in Nigeria.

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    Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar, the minister of foreign affairs, announced the recall.
    Ambassador Tuggar stated that all career and non-career ambassadors had been recalled on the orders of President Tinubu in response to questions over the letter recalling the Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK, Ambassador Sarafa Ishola.

    The Presidency confirmed the move in a separate statement from its spokesman, Mr. Ajuri Ngelale, who added: “The President’s directive is the result of his careful examination of the current state of affairs at Nigerian consulate offices and embassies worldwide. In keeping with the President’s Renewed Hope agenda, the President is determined to ensure that world-class efficiency and quality, will henceforth, characterize foreign and domestic service delivery to citizens, residents, and pro-government organizations.

    Ministry officials insist there is no turning back.

    There is nothing in place to support the envoy’s return on or before October 31 even though sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed there was no turning back on the recall, an ambassador told Vanguard.

    It is still unclear as to why the administration hasn’t started the processes for the October 31 recall of all ambassadors, deputy ambassadors, and consuls general.

    But a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Ministry who wished to remain anonymous said: “No machinery has yet been set in motion for the envoys’ return.

    Each envoy who is scheduled to return by the end of this month should, by this point, have obtained his or her AIEs (Authority to incur Expenditures) for their journeys, according to typical conditions.

    She claimed that if the government hadn’t changed its mind, “by now, they (envoys) would have equally received financial backing.”

    A functioning ambassador responded to Vanguard’s inquiry by saying, “We are unaware of the entire situation. I questioned some representatives from the foreign affairs ministry, and one of them remarked, “Why don’t you stay there? Why are you rushing to get back?

    They don’t anticipate that you will walk home. Keep your place until the government decides whether to send you money to return or extend your stay.

    The female ambassador expressed her desire to return home right away to be with her family and expressed remorse that she was unable to given the experiences of some prior diplomats who returned but waited.

    Some of them suggested that we remain put till the government sends us AIEs for our passages, she continued.


    Another diplomat, who also requested anonymity, said he anticipated the government would be organizing the setup.

    Even though the ministry has yet to finish the official document, when asked if the October 31 deadline would be reached, he responded, “They (envoys) were given October ending, so they should be ready by now. Although that is a function of the bureaucracy, there shouldn’t be any issues.

    “The ministry has the right to ask the officer to come back, but the ministry also has the obligation to pay before they come back.”

    The financial struggles that Nigerian embassies around the world are facing have already been covered by Vanguard. A lot of Nigerian missions are currently in a situation where they are in deep debt to service providers in their host countries as a result of the crisis, which can be attributed to the 2016 fiscal year when all Nigerian missions encountered budget shortfalls and delays in payments of overhead and personal allocations.

    Permanent embassies in Caracas, Venezuela; Brasilia, Brazil; Luanda, Angola; Bucharest, Romania; Hanoi, South Vietnam; and the hardest struck, with nine months’ salary arrears, is Havana, Cuba, are among those affected.

    Under the condition of anonymity, a diplomat confirmed the ministry’s propensity for such behavior.

    “It is wrong that an officer will be on course and he has not been paid for nine months,” he added, adding that the government had been doing it for years.

    “How does the ministry anticipate the officer will care for himself, his family, and other responsibilities? The ministry is correct to ask the officer to return, but the ministry also has a duty to compensate them prior to their return. When the expense is in dollars, will the ministry pay them in dollars or naira?

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