A former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Prof Bola Akinterinwa, has advised President Bola Tinubu not to appoint his cronies as ambassadors.
Akinterinwa was reacting to a report that some Governors, the President’s associates, unsuccessful governorship aspirants, and retired military officers have submitted loyalist names for ambassadorial appointments.
Speaking with The Punch on Friday, Akinterinwa said the President should not use such important positions to reward or compensate his political cronies who helped him win the 2023 election.
He said the President should consider appointing academic ambassadors who specialised in handling international affairs of the countries they would serve in rather than political ambassadors.
Akinterinwa asserted that most political ambassadors usually pursue personal interests over national interests because they have no training as diplomatic agents.
He said, “Political ambassadors are not interested in any national interest to protect abroad. The moment they are appointed, they look out for how to survive even after the tenure of the President who appoints them.
“Nigerian politicians do not place priority on the protection of national interests. If President Tinubu is not careful with the appointments and decides to reward his political cronies and friends, Nigeria will certainly be in trouble very shortly.
“If we are suggesting academic diplomats, I agree with that; there are many academic diplomats in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There can be a focus on the specialisation of those who have served in some countries if they meet the level of Grade Level 16 or 17; those are the people they should be looking out for.
“Political ambassadors need diplomatic training to be able to perform diplomatic functions enshrined in the 1961 Vienna Convention. Most unfortunately, it is the political ambassadors that have always behaved in a manner considered not compatible with the status of diplomats.”