AS they prepare for their posts abroad and against the backdrop of the recent diplomatic row between Nigeria and South Africa, Foreign Affairs Minister, Olugbenga Ashiru, yesterday charged 87 envoys-designate to work closely with the Nigerian communities in the Diaspora with a view to burnishing the country’s image.
The envoys-designate were also charged to guide Nigerians living abroad in the way of their host-countries in order to prevent them from flouting the laws of such countries, which might drag the country’s name in the mud.
Ashiru stated this yesterday in Abuja at an induction course for envoys-designate who would soon be posted to Nigeria’s missions abroad.
He also warned that the Ministry would not hesitate to sanction any head of mission who flouted extant regulations.
The presidential station charter for the envoys included a recognition of the urgent priorities of the economic diplomacy of the current administration, what constitutes Nigeria’s vital interests today and how best to actualise them in a competitive global arena.
Addressing the envoys-designate, Ashiru said: “On arrival at post, your excellencies would need to settle down quickly, work closely with the Nigerian communities in your host countries, listen to their complaints and urge them to continue to propagate the good image of Nigeria.
“I must emphasise that your primary duty is the protection of Nigerians in your countries of accreditation. As you know, there is no Nigeria without Nigerians. You must therefore adopt an open-door policy to Nigerians on transit or resident in your country of assignment.”
The minister also warned the envoys-designate to leave above board by guarding against certain impunities noticed in the past.
He said: “There is a need for prudence and accountability in the management of scarce resources. We are in lean times and heads of mission will be held liable for misallocation of funds put at your disposal. Rules and procedure for financial management and public procurement must be strictly adhered to at all times.
“Headquarters will not hesitate to sanction any head of mission who flouts the extant regulations on travels from post, including those who abandon their posts for Nigeria without prior authorisation. The era of impunity in the conduct of heads of mission is over under this administration.
“I shall ensure regular monitoring of your performance in line with the federal template of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Your nomination is a rare privilege and a mark of honour, which demands of you to do no less. ”
At the event were Nigeria’s retired ambassadors, former permanent secretaries of the ministry, senior diplomats and foreign bureaucrats.