Award Night: Onyeama commends Nigerian heads of missions abroad
*Says current set the most proactive, transformative in foreign relationships
The immediate past Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has commended Non-Career Ambassadors for their transformative relationship between Nigeria and their host countries.
Onyeama gave the commendation at an award night organized yesterday by members of the Conference of Non-Career Ambassadors of Nigeria, who converged in their numbers in Abuja to honour him.
Onyeama added that Nigeria has been extremely successful as a result of the excellent performance of Nigerian Ambassadors in the course of their service. According to him, they have maintained excellent relationship with their host countries across the world.
“People always ask about Nigeria’s foreign policy but I tell them it is all about having excellent relationship with people across the world. With this, countries will give your country aid; increase investment, return artefacts and vote for you when you have candidate for international position.
“We have been extremely successful because of you. I must tell you that your set has been transformative in the relationship between Nigeria and the countries you are serving.
“Former President Muhammadu Buhari got it right in the selection. You have presented Nigeria to the world and that is the reason for the match-making portal recently launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is a game-changer in the area of foreign direct investment”, Onyeama said.
Expressing gratitude for the award ceremony, Onyeama said he never expected such an honour. “This is not something I expected. I cannot take it for granted. I am totally overwhelmed.”
Onyeama used the occasion to further commend the former President for appointing him a Minister, describing the opportunity to serve as an honour of a lifetime. He added that not only did Buhari appoint him, he also protected his job by reappointing him for another four years at a time many felt he had no business serving in that capacity.
He said: “After four years, he called me back. He protected me. Some people felt I had no business being a minister but he was adamant to them.”
While congratulating the newly inaugurated President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Onyeama said that taking over from a legend, he has a big shoe to step in.
“Buhari was a legend. I followed him around and saw that he was so loved. He was wonderful and kind. A fantastic face of Nigeria for eight years”, Onyeama added.
In his remarks, the Dean of the Conference, Ambassador Nwannebuike Ominyi, stated that the occasion was to reciprocate the former Minister’s support and prompt response to their needs.
The group of Non-Career Ambassadors were appointed in June 2020 and were posted to their various missions in the heat of COVID-19 pandemic. According to Ominyi, the awardees, which include the chairmen, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Mohammed Bulkachuwa and his House of Representative counterpart, Yusuf Buba, assisted immensely in elevating the status of Non-Career Ambassadors.
“Today, we can laugh because what we asked for was given to us. We put this evening together to say “thank you.” We are happy to associate with you and to tell you that you made our work easier”, Ominyi stated.
Over 20 Non-Career Ambassadors from across the world attended the ceremony. Some of them include Nigerian High Commissioner to Jamaica, Dr. Maureen Tamuno, Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, Tukur Y. Buratai; Nigerian Ambassador to Burundi, Elija Onyeagba and Nigerian Ambassador to the Philippines, Folakemi Akinyele. Others are Nigerian Ambassador to Ireland, Ijeoma Obiezu, Nigerian Ambassador to Thailand, Oma Djebah and Nigerian Ambassador to Hungary, Modupe Irele and Nigerian Ambassador to Cameroon, Abayomi Olonisakin.
Other awardees include the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha and the Chairman, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Mohammed Bello.