The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has consistently remained in the public glare for the very wrong reasons and is not even determined to take a turn for the better going by the recent happening in the ministry write our Diplomatic correspondent LINUS ALEKE.
It was the advent of digital technology that midwife and popularized the aphorism, “Garbage in garbage out,” this is so because it is what you type into the computer that it throws back at you.
The infinite wisdom in the above-quoted aphorism is not unconnected with ancient postulations in Christian sacred literature, “Whatever a man sows that he shall reap”.
Supporting this two ancient knowledge, an African Axiom posits that fruits produce its kind, while animals beget its kind as well. Snake begets snake, leopard begets leopard, apple tree does not produce oranges, likewise snake does not beget scorpion.
Therefore, the quality of manpower an organization assembles will determine how fast and well, the organizational goals would be attained.
It is, however, on the premise of the foregoing that reasonable men of conscience in society can comfortably infer that rogue elements and morally bankrupt fellows are antithetical to organizational goals while those with high moral fibre are tonic or fertilizer that aid the attainment of institutional objectives.
Therefore, the quality of manpower, in term of technical skills and competence, as well as moral rectitude in an institution goes a long way in determining how far the Institution would go in attaining its set objectives.
Regrettably, the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs upon whose shoulders rest the onerous task of laundering Nigeria’s image has continued to perform abysmally, owing partly to the quality of manpower, especially as it relates to morality.
It is a no longer secret that the foreign missions, populate the missions with local staff whose unbridled appetite for sex and the get-rich-quick syndrome has added in no small measure to the already soiled and stinking image of Nigeria at the international arena.
Nonetheless, this circle of shame and dragging Nigeria’s image into the gutter will continue till God knows when because the recruitment process is unthinkably faulty.
A middle-level foreign service officer in the ministry told our correspondent that the show of shame by those whose uncontrollable libido and quest for quick money will persist unabated unless the ranking government officials stop forcing their candidate down the throats of the ambassadors in foreign missions.
He revealed that the bulk of these rogue elements in the guise of local staff are a the candidate of top government officials from the presidency and the ministry.
He further explained that these officials often result in compelling ambassadors to employ their unemployed and unemployable relations and relations of their mistress abroad.
“If not because there is a law guiding the engagement of a foreign service officer, these officials would have populated the ministry with untrained foreign service officers. Some of these local staff do things with impunity because the ambassador may not be able to lay them off at will because of those behind their employment,” he further revealed.
A foreign service officer should not only be incorruptible but must be found worthy moral wise to represent Nigeria in a foreign land.
But beyond the aforesaid aberration, the Federal Government is also not careful in selecting those who would represent Nigeria as envoy in foreign countries, either as a career or non-career diplomats.
For instance, one of the non-career ambassador-designate is been accused of corruption, human trafficking, and other sundry crimes. Why it is too early to conclude that the ambassador-designate is guilty as charged, considering the fact that political opponents are capable of anything in this part of the world, it is also unfavourable for the ministry of foreign affairs to take side with the ambassador-designate while the investigation is still ongoing in the matter.
While it may not be reasonable to join the band wagon of those who had accused the ministry of striving to satisfy the interest of the presidency that had appointed her, it is imperative to state that the action of the ministry in throwing its hat to the ring in defence of an appointee accused of criminal activities is not only reprehensible but wrong in its entirety.
Only recently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs threw its weight behind Ambassador-appointee, Ms Ingekim Regina Ocheni who was accused of alleged corruption, human trafficking, forgery, perjury, and others, saying that the allegation is frivolous and unfounded.
Spokesperson Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ferdinand Nwonye, in a statement last Wednesday, said that the publication and the alleged petition are purported attempts to assassinate the character of Ambassador Ingekim Regina Ocheni, for acting in her official capacity as a former Director Training & Staff Welfare of the Ministry and in accordance with extant rules.
Recall that a letter to the German Embassy in Nigeria dated January 22, 2021, had accused Ambassador Ocheni, Nigerian Deputy Ambassador to Germany, of alleged “abduction/ trafficking, impersonation, forgery, perjury, criminal conspiracy, abetment, gratification, corrupt demand by persons and deliberate frustration of investigation.”
The petition, which was published by several online media platforms, was written by a legal practitioner, W. Chuks Obikwelu, Esq., on behalf of the petitioner, and addressed to the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Embassy of Germany in Abuja.
The letter was entitled “Criminal investigation against Ambassador Ingekim Regina Ocheni (Nigeria Deputy Ambassador to Germany)“.
“The petition noted that Ocheni was invited for interrogation on her roles in the alleged crimes via a letter of invitation from National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and Interpol in Abuja, dated 8th January 2021, and 11th January 2021, respectively, but were ignored.
“She was also dragged before the Chairman of Special Unit of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to no avail.
“The petition has as its attachments copies of petitions addressed to the Director-General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons dated 21st December 2020, a petition addressed to Commissioner of Police (Interpol Abuja), dated 21st December 2020, and petition addressed to the chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (Chairman’s Special Unit) dated 21st December 2020,” the report disclosed.
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while responding to the allegations, said; “the attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been drawn to a misleading online publication entitled “Buhari’s Ambassador-appointee accused of alleged corruption, human trafficking, forgery, perjury, et al” issued on 1st February 2021. The publication was premised on a letter written to the German Ambassador in Nigeria by one Mr Winston Chukwura Obikwelu, Esq.
“The Ministry wishes to state that after meticulous scrutiny of the allegations by Mr Chukwura Obikwelu, it unequivocally refutes the content of the publication as the accusations are frivolous and unfounded. The publication and the alleged petition are purported attempts to assassinate the character of Ambassador Ingekim Regina Ocheni, for acting in her official capacity as a former Director Training & Staff Welfare of the Ministry
and in accordance with extant rules”.
The Ministry also clarified that Amb. Ocheni, as Director of Training & Staff Welfare, was saddled with the responsibility of handling issues related to the death of Mrs Emmanuella Obikwelu, a staff of the ministry and a former wife to Mr Obikwelu, as expected of her office.
This, it said, eventually led to the handing of the children Mrs Obikwelu had with her ex-husband to their grandparents, Mr and Mrs Godian Amadi, who doubles as her biological parents, whom she had registered as her Next-of-Kin.
“The Ministry, therefore, wishes to reemphasize that the children are currently in the custody of their grandparents and parent of the deceased, who she documented as her Next-of-Kin
in accordance with extant regulations. The agitation instigated by Mr Obikwelu could as such be considered a family affair, which the Ministry or any of its officials should not be dragged into,” the statement asserted.
The Ministry concluded that aggrieved persons may wish to seek redress in a court of competent jurisdiction.