Months after receiving the names of some ambassadorial nominees, President Bola Tinubu has yet to draw up a consolidated list of diplomats who will serve as Nigeria’s envoys to various countries and multilateral organisations, The PUNCH reports.

This is as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it has since collated and forwarded the names of prospective diplomats to the President for consideration.

“We have collated everything on our part and forwarded it to Mr. President,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, confirmed to our correspondent before Monday’s Federal Executive Council meeting.

However, the President’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Mr Bayo Onanuga, confirmed to our correspondent that such nominations must pass through a thorough process before a final list is released. He debunked a list making the rounds, describing it as “fake news.”

“There is no official list as of today. There is a list in circulation. That is fake news. The foreign affairs list will still go through certain processes before it is released.

“Don’t forget that the ambassadorial list has two components. There are career ambassadors and political ambassadors. So, whichever one they submitted, it will still go through a long process.”

In November 2023, a senior official in the ministry said “Names of new ambassadors are being compiled.”

Although it was not clear if the nominees were political or career diplomats, feelers indicate that they primarily comprise the latter.

It is believed that while career diplomats are determined by their career progression, as recommended by the foreign service, political diplomats are often appointees of the President.

In December 2023, a high-ranking official in the nation’s foreign service, who spoke anonymously to The PUNCH, confirmed to our correspondent that one of those considered for the top diplomatic jobs is the Founder of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc. Mr. Afolabi Adeola.

Adeola will be designated Nigeria’s Ambassador to one of the world’s top three economies.

The source stated, “Yes, the President has a list of recommended persons and is considering it already.

“One of those I saw is Fola Adeola, the Founder of GTB.

“He is being considered as the Nigerian Ambassador to one of the world’s top three economies.”

Aside from Adeola, The PUNCH, on Tuesday,  gathered that a Senior Special Assistant to the President, a former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Olufemi Pedro, and the Speaker, Katsina House of Assembly, Tasiu Maigari, are also being considered for ambassadorial jobs.

 

Explaining the rationale for the choice, the source noted that the Tinubu administration was keen on deploying technocrats and captains of industry as its front persons in foreign lands.

“The President is reserving many of the slots for technocrats, people who have built a strong reputation in their respective fields and have built companies employing thousands of Nigerians. We need people who can use their influence to secure deals and partnerships for the benefit of their country.

“It is not a new thing. When choosing envoys, the most developed economies send their best hands for those jobs. And Tinubu is following that path.

“For example, Adeola is an investor and is not a strange face on the foreign scene and the global business community. He knows them and they know him. And he is not the only one. You can see that this speaks of the administration’s pursuit of more Foreign Direct Investment,” said the source.

On the process followed in compiling the nominees, sources told our correspondent that the Federal Government had set up a committee to recommend qualified individuals to fill the roles.

A source, who did not want to be named, said, “A committee was set up to make recommendations for career and political ambassadors.

“You see, most of the career ambassadors already know they are next for appointments. But they don’t know to which country they will be sent. There are countries where Nigeria has delicate political interests. For these ones, the government usually sends political ambassadors.

“If you remember, President Buhari appointed his former service chiefs as ambassadors to some African countries.”

Nigeria has 109 missions, 76 embassies, 22 high commissions and 11 consulates globally.

On September 2, 2023, President Bola Tinubu recalled all career and non-career ambassadors operating the country’s diplomatic missions, embassies and consulates globally.

A statement by Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed the recall of the ambassadors, saying: “Sequel to the inquiries on the letter recalling the Nigerian ambassador to the UK, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar, has clarified that all career ambassadors and non-career ambassadors have been recalled on the instructions of President Bola Tinubu.”

The envoys were directed to return to the country on or before October 31.

They include the 41 non-career ambassadors and 42 career ambassadors appointed by Former President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2020.

The diplomats were deployed after the Senate confirmed them by Section 171(2)(1c) and Subsection 4 of the 1999 Constitution.

An explainer by Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, noted that only 25 career ambassadors who had attained the retirement age and had been in public service for 35 years were recalled.