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Political Class Won’t Support Parliamentary System – Ex-Irish Mayor

FORMER Mayor of Portlaoise, County Laois in the Republic of Ireland, Rotimi Adebari, speaks to IMOLEAYO OYEDEYI on why the Federal Government should quickly appoint new envoys for the country, and how the government can halt the spate of killings of Nigerians abroad, among other issues

Since September last year when it withdrew all Nigerian ambassadors in foreign countries, the current administration of President Bola Tinubu has not appointed new envoys for Nigeria in about 76 countries of the world. Some observers have said having no one to manage Nigeria’s diplomatic image abroad poses serious implications. How true can this be?

This is a good question that I will suggest that Mr President or his spokespersons should be asked. It will be interesting to hear from them their reasons for not appointing new ambassadors, knowing the importance of ambassadors in foreign countries. Just to be the devil’s advocate for a second; could it be that the present administration in the background is reviewing Nigeria’s presence in some countries vis-a-vis the cost of running the offices juxtaposing all of that with benefits if any that Nigeria is deriving in those countries?


I can recall, I think two years back when the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, while meeting with the then Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, described the challenges of Nigeria’s foreign missions as poor funding, filthy environment, poor working conditions, and crumbling infrastructure.

Gbajabiamila made these assertions at a time when he lacked the executive power to implement changes he would like to see at foreign missions, but now as the Chief of Staff to the President with executive power influence, I think, now is the time to turn the fate of our foreign missions around, to be honest. I will not subscribe to what some observers are saying that “having no one to manage Nigeria’s diplomatic image abroad poses serious implications.”

It is good to have ambassadors in place, but in their absence, the Charge de Affair keeps the foreign missions going. The government needs to act fast and decide if they want to cut down on over 100 foreign missions that we currently have.

What do you think Nigeria stands to gain by having quality representation in some major countries abroad?

There are several benefits to gain by having quality representation in major countries abroad; the benefit ranges from diplomatic representation, facilitating trade and investment opportunities, and economic cooperation, fostering people-to-people diplomacy and promoting cultural exchange, providing assistance to Nigerian citizens living or travelling abroad, collaboration on global issues which includes climate change, health and security, promoting tourism and attracting foreign investments. In a nutshell, quality representation will enhance Nigeria’s global presence, promote the nation’s interests, and fosters cooperation with other countries.

How can effective foreign relations fetch investment opportunities for Nigeria?

Effective foreign relations can create an enabling environment for investment, driving economic growth to Nigeria through building strong relationships with other countries, which can lead to investment agreements and treaties. It can also be through organising trade missions and exhibitions that showcases Nigerian products and services in a bid to attract foreign investors.

It will also bring about collaboration with other countries on economic projects and initiatives that attract investments. Positive diplomatic engagements will improve Nigeria’s image and make it more attractive to investors. Diplomatic efforts can resolve investment hurdles, such as regulatory issues or trade restrictions.

In appointing fresh individuals to head Nigeria’s foreign missions and embassies, what will be your advice to President Bola Tinubu?

I am very positive that President Tinubu is very knowledgeable about who should be appointed to head our foreign missions. Having said that, I would advise him to consider appointing individuals with a strong background in diplomacy, international relations, or a related field. He should appoint individuals with a deep understanding of the host country’s culture, language, and politics, people with strong communication and negotiation skills that are essential for building relationships with foreign governments and stakeholders.

The President should also pick individuals that are well versed in his (President Tinubu’s) foreign policy priorities and Nigeria’s national interest. They must be people with a high level of integrity, a strong reputation and commitment to ethical conduct. They should be individuals that are sensitive to cultural differences with the ability to navigate diverse cultural contexts.

According to reports, about 300 Nigerians have been killed extrajudicially in foreign countries in the last seven years. What do you think may be responsible for this and what can Nigerian embassies abroad do to stem the tide?

The reports about 300 Nigerians losing their lives due to the incidence of extrajudicial killings is so sad, alarming, and disturbing. From my professional experience and living abroad, I attribute such killings to racism and xenophobia, poor understanding of Nigerian culture, traditions, and customs, lack of effective communication and support from Nigerian embassies, inadequate documentation and record-keeping, limited access to legal representation and justice.

To address the above likely causes of extrajudicial killings, I expect Nigerian embassies abroad to play a critical role in protecting the lives and well-being of Nigerians by providing support and assistance to Nigerians abroad, including legal aid and consular services.

The embassies should also engage in diplomatic efforts to promote understanding and address racism and xenophobia. They should establish a database to track and document cases of extrajudicial killings as well as organise cultural events and programmes to promote Nigerian culture and foster greater understanding.

Our embassies should also collaborate with host countries to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of extrajudicial killings. It will also be good for them to develop a 24/7 emergency response system for Nigerians in distress and engage in public diplomacy to raise awareness about extrajudicial killings and advocate for the rights of Nigerians abroad.

Many Nigerians are reportedly struggling to survive abroad, yet the rate at which the japa syndrome rises is alarming as people leave Nigeria in droves yearly. But why can people end up suffering abroad despite leaving Nigeria with high hopes?

The fact that many Nigerians are reportedly struggling to survive abroad does not discourage others from migrating. It tells us that something is not right somewhere; either at home or abroad.

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