Diplomatic Muscle

by E. Terfa Ula-Lisa Esq

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?

Looted Funds

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.

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yunusa April 26, 2006 - 4:38 am

i am so glad and happy to read this article, its very interested. please keep on writing such article it will make impact in african societies. thank you.

Anonymous August 27, 2005 - 5:24 pm

Very educative thank you sir for this write up its about time something we get adequate representation our embassy should rise and meet out need they cant even issue out a new passport or renew your passport without much ado what a shame and they often brag about " our naija" and often wonder why one naturalise.

prince kennedy Iyoha August 22, 2005 - 1:04 pm

I have never been able to understand the actitudes of Nigeria deplomats abroad. Here in Spain the waiting room of the Nigeria embassy is a mes and a disgrace to the Nigeria populations. Now and then you read about a Nigerian having problem with the spanish authority and because we have a represantative of the Nigerian government one will hope to receive some kind of help from the embassy.

Early last year one nigeria couple lost their son in domestic accident and the two of them had to be remanded to prison custody. It was the association CARE. which i am the founder and president that was responsible for the legal and the run around responsibility untill they were realised from the prison custody after six mouths. As forigners they were not allowed to see the burria of their son and were faced with unfair propagander from the local press and we had to canter attack using another newspaper to clearn the damage to their image.

On very many occasion i through the Nigeria union in madrid tried to relate the above incidance to the embassador without succes.

Some five years ago i was in Algeria to visit a friend and i came across a large colony of Nigerians and other subsaharan African struggling to survive and using themselfs as bagens to get some food to eat and a place to lay their head. meanwhile this are people that left Nigeria through road to europe and got stranded in a town called tamarraset in Algeria.

many resulted in capturing their female sisters and forcing them to practice prostitution in a bid to survive.

As a result the diffirent group formed a band and began to sell themself to the Algerian immigrations authorities.

When i sew this lamentable situation i called on all the group concerned to meet in the Niger consullate in that city since the Nigeria government don't have presence there.

The Niger consular granted us a space for this reunion which was ment to stop this unhuman actitude of our people.

After the reunion we reached conclutions that the enslavements of all the girls that passed through that rout should stop that the constant conflict between Nigerians and particulaly Ghana should be a thing of the past and that they should contact the various embassy to help evacuate this people from that dead zone.

The Ghanian authority came and evacuate its people but the represantative of the Nigerian government in Algerian never shown up in Tmarraset on the protest that the first time he went to tamarraset the Nigerian almost stoned him to death.

Their is no country in the whole wide world where you cant find Nigerians when their are conflicts many countries like the united states Spain United Kingdom… etc do send rescue mession to evacuate its citizens. But i have never had that the Nigerian government is sending a ship or airbus to upleft its citizens from trouble zones. exept the Babangida administration in libaria.

About business the Nigeria represantative are probable appionted not by merit but through the Godfather mentality and therefore are in their post to sarve the business interest of not the country but of its Godfather.

We have to advocate for change of actitude from our represantative When many americans are stranded anywhere in the world the first port of call is the embassy. but if a Nigerian venture go near its embassy anywhere in the world a dog will be called by its consullar or embassedor to drive him or she out of the premises of what was supposed to be his/her embassy.


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