The art of Diplomacy is negotiation by governments using nuances of persuasion, cajoling, determined arm-twisting and wicked but subtle blackmail. It is contract by other means. In this game, there is a parity of the nations. All the nations involved are equal. The winners on an issue are those who know how to tweak the levers of diplomacy to their benefit.
Ambassadors, consuls and foreign envoys are supposed to be learned and learning on the job (because the issues are never the same). In Nigeria, because of the economy and the devalued Naira, the diplomatic posting is an attraction since it provides foreign exchange. But are the diplomats doing their job? What is the job of the Nigerian envoy? Does the ambassador know what indignities Nigerians are facing in England or the USA? Besides 419 and international prostitution, what are the international issues involving Nigeria?
The rule of thumb for countries doing business together is ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. Countries doing business together want to keep the business flowing between their peoples. But if one country continues to disrespect the citizens of the other, diplomacy does not beg or whine but plans a counter-measure. If visa seekers are constantly humiliated, any self respecting nation would tackle the issue even if its nationals want to flee their country of origin. If professionals from England and the USA are able to ply their trade in Nigeria, Nigerian professionals should be given the same privilege in the Diaspora. If laws bar Nigerians from participation in their host economies, Nigeria should pass the same kind of laws. Why would the Company Secretary or General Counsel of the major oil Companies be foreign lawyers permitted to practice law in Nigeria while Nigerians are not allowed the same privilege in their countries?
It is public knowledge that Switzerland’s banking system is a major receiver of looted funds from Nigeria. Some of the looted monies have been traced and admitted by Swiss courts. Much of the loot has not even been scratched. The known fact is that successive Nigerian government officials have always mismanaged public funds and deposited them in Swiss numbered accounts. This might be the reason for reticence of the Swiss to handover the Abacha loot. To tie the return of Nigeria’s monies to paying for the deportation of Nigerians in Switzerland is not acceptable because they are not related, but such is the arm-twisting tactics. The co-incidence of the deportation is also loud. Has Nigeria identified a few Swiss Nationals to deport? If not, why not?
Intellectual Property Wars
Some technologically advanced countries make a large hue and cry over theft of intellectual property. While I resent theft of any kind, whether it is 419, robbery, conversion, kick-backs or contract-fixing, I also resent the double standard applied in this respect. Be sure that everything written by an intellectual from the Third World is stolen, scrutinized and often rebutted peremptorily by agents of the governments of the western nations even before it is published. They have access to such intellectual property in the guise of national security. Even on internet sites like the Nigerian community sites, it is not uncommon to find some paid Nigerian Stooge more western than the Westerners concerning our common struggles. Not many Westerners recently, (including the so-called Christians) have championed the case of the underdogs in the International Legal System. Those of us who dare raise the issues are isolated as hate-mongers or those playing ‘victim’. Pray tell, did any Swiss bank or its agents or National commit any offence in receiving stolen property? Did the Swiss government prosecute them for Nigeria?
The Ambassador and envoys of Nigeria should not only be party faithfuls being rewarded for service or posted out of Nigeria to keep him (the use of he includes the female gender) out of sight. The Ambassador should represent the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians in his country of assignment. He should be an intellectual versed in the politics and nuances of International Law. He should also be a self-assured person who looks after the interest of his wards. He should be one to ensure that his people get respect, are treated fairly and have j
ustice and its presumption of innocence when accused by the host country. No country is perfect and no country has a monopoly of virtues or vices. The Ambassador should be an avid Nigerian, not ashamed to be Nigerian, warts and all. If there are newspaper accounts concerning Nigerians, the Ambassadors should be able to follow issues and stories concerning Nigerians and be accessible instead of some big shot.
Principle of Reciprocity
It goes without saying that almost all countries that do business with Nigeria gain more in the relationship than Nigeria and as such would lose more from a break in diplomatic relations. This fact has not been capitalized on because past leaders may have been selfish and compromised in their personal dealings. The lure for filthy lucre often overshadows principles. The lack of policy direction is also a negating force. If the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians is primary and seen to be asserted by the country and its envoys, the blanket shabby treatment would cease. It would also be easier to assert the country’s right to reciprocity. There was an apocryphal political saying in my neck of the woods in Nigeria, “If you Tarka me, I will Darboh you”. We need to adopt it.