A Professor of International Studies, Bola Akinterinwa, says nations such as Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, and others where strategic interests do not matter may accept the ex-service chiefs as ambassadors in their countries.
Akinterinwa, who is also a former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, stated this on a PUNCH Online interview on Thursday.
He, however, said there was no assurance that countries like the United States and the United Kingdom who had accused the service chiefs of crimes against humanity would accept the former service chiefs as diplomats.
The Presidency had on Thursday said the names of the ex-military commanders have been sent to the Senate for confirmation.
The nominees are: Gen Abayomi G. Olonisakin (Rtd ), Lt Gen Tukur Y. Buratai (Rtd), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (Rtd), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (Rtd), and Air Vice Marshal Mohammed S. Usman (Rtd).
But Akinterinwa doubted that the service chiefs who were believed not to have performed at home would perform outside the country.
The don also said the appointment of the ex-service chiefs as non-career ambassadors might not necessarily grant them diplomatic immunity or protect them from being probed by the International Criminal Court.
He said, “It depends on the country they will be posted to. If you send a service chief as an ambassador to the United States for instance, what will you expect? US is one of the countries that have accused the service chiefs of having violated human rights. Do you think they will be able to survive in that case in terms of negotiating skill? Not likely. If you send to Britain, the same thing.
“If you send to probably Cote D’Ivoire, Togo, Venezuela, all those places where strategic interest do not constitute the issue, in this case, yes, they may do well but you need someone who is very conversant with a very dishonest manner of operating international politics. International politics is very dishonest, everybody is struggling to undermine the other and you need a sophisticated career ambassador.”
Continuing, Akinterinwa said, “A country can accept and my not accept (an ambassadorial appointee). The obstacle here even though there is rule of reciprocity if we name one and you refuse to accept, we too have the right to reject your own.
“But it is generally not done. When you present a candidate to a country, rather than writing you a bad letter to say they reject, they may keep quiet. So long silence, no reply simply means rejection. That is the context under which we call them persona non grata – that is unwanted person.”
The former NIIA director general said Nigeria needs diplomatic careerists to engage in diplomatic negotiations, adding that political or non-career ambassadors have bastardised Nigeria’s diplomacy and foreign policy objectives.
“As long as the (former) service chiefs are well-trained, you need diplomatic careerists to engage in what we call diplomatic negotiations. We know our political ambassadors have bastardise diplomacy and foreign policy and I can tell you what to expect in the foreseeable future when they are appointed.
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“When they are eventually appointed and they are given letters of credence for both recall of the current ambassadors there and their own letters to present to the host government, you will discover that they are not likely to be responsible directly to Minister of Foreign Affairs; they may want to set aside the Minister of Foreign Affairs and be reporting directly to Mr President. We have on record strong political ambassadors when they are there, they bypass the foreign ministries and it does not allow for foreign policy coordination,” he noted.