Nigeria’s foreign missions: Why the banner of docility should be unflagged

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One of the most recent embarrassments on Nigeria that shows continued loss of relevance among the Committee of nations in the global scene is the attack on the Country’s High Commission in Accra, Ghana. The ugly development is a distasteful omen that shows the degree to which the so called “Giant of Africa” has lost its relevance even in Africa where it is being prided as a Giant. The Nigerian Government following its norm appears to be looking over the ugly development, walking away once again as usual. The emphasis of the Federal Executive on the fact that Ghana’s government has tendered an apology and promised to rebuild the demolished building, appears to be sufficing to the Nigerian Government to overlook the affront. Perhaps, the Federal Executive appears not to know the implication that an attack on a Country’s mission abroad is a daring disrespect and encroachment on her sovereignty.

It is saddening how Nigeria with the docility of the Government in handling diplomatic relations has become a subject of mockery in the international space. Disturbed by the insulting development, the House of Representatives presided over by the Speaker, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila on Wednesday, raised a song of lamentation over the attack on the Country’s High Commission in Ghana. The House had called on President Muhammadu Buhari to invoke the diplomatic principle of reciprocity against Ghana. The Speaker, Gbajabiamila, who spoke for the House in an interactive session with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyema, over the breach of the country’s sovereignty, said the attack on Nigeria’s High Commission by Ghana might not have happened without the prior knowledge of the Ghanaian authorities.

While stating that the demolition deserved a tough sanction, the Speaker said: “If Ghana has a problem and is approaching it through subterranean moves, then what do you think the outcome of the legal proceeding will be? So I think we should pursue it from that angle; I think we should make it clear to the authorities in Ghana that Nigeria is not going to sit down and fold its arms. Reciprocity is a legitimate instrument in foreign relations. The doctrine of reciprocity is what should be considered. The Nigerian state was attacked. I think we should look at this thing from the premise that the Nigerian state was attacked. It’s not a building that was demolished. No! The Nigerian state was attacked. I think if we look at it from that premise, we will begin to understand the importance and the gravity of what we are dealing with.

“We have established a pattern, and what we get (from other countries that attack Nigeria), is apologies, and we will look into it. I don’t think that should suffice at this point. We must put a stop to what has become a perennial problem between Nigeria and Ghana. To me, this is a sibling rivalry between two sister countries, but even in sibling rivalry, there is a line you don’t cross, and they (Ghana) just crossed the line, albeit a second time.”

While the Ghanaian Government may be promising to rebuild the demolished building,  it is however essential to state that, this is not a sufficient cause for the Nigerian Government to hold its hands and accept the affront in good fate, without taking actions to strictly guide against a reoccurrence of such embarrassment in future. Reports of Nigerians being subjected to inhumane treatments with threats to their lives and properties have been accepted as a fate by the Nigerian Government without taking stringent moves. The inability of the Nigerian Government to effect tough sanctions against attacks and ill-treatment of its citizens has degenerated to the worthless manner in which citizens of the country are dealt with in foreign lands. By reason of the alacrity and swiftness the United States government exact severe sanctions against any ill-treatment towards its citizens, the nation has been accorded a respect which makes all nations across the world tread gently while dealing with her citizens. Nations in the international arena know the consequences that may sresult from any unsavoury treatment of U.S.’ citizens anywhere around the world. People around the world have grown with this fact in their dealings with U.S.’ citizens. The reverse practically is the case with Nigeria. The docile and lackluster manner with which the Government handles matters affecting its citizens and even its properties in foreign lands, has emboldened the confidence of citizens of foreign lands to deal with Nigerians with disdain and maltreatment. Serial killings of Nigerians in South Africa, a co-African country, has been a torrential phenomenon. Recently, a Nigerian lady became an object of sale when a Labanese auctioned her up for sale on social media. Worse still, even within their own country, foreigners manhandle Nigerians with the Government doing little or nothing to address this.

It’s high time the Government woke up to its responsibilities. The Country’s image in the international realm has been shaded with blurry colours. The era of subjecting Nigeria’s foreign missions to political patronage should be over. Foreign and diplomatic relations is essentially critical, and committing the responsibilities into the hands of novices on the ground of political patronage is a signature to deficiencies. The counter-productivity of this abysmal norm is the reflection of the embarrassment Nigeria has been attracting in the international realm. Nations of the world that are strategically minded on the essence and importance of foreign and diplomatic relations are ideologically guarded in their approach of image building. The Nigerian Government should rise from its floor-slumbering and reconstruct the foundational principles of the Country’s foreign relations in a way that will navigate the ministry of Foreign Affairs into a proper shape.