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Ex-service chiefs not fit as ambassadors

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Buhari meets with newly appointed Service Chiefs; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral A. Z Gambo (left); Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General LEO Irabor; President Muhammadu Buhari; Chief of Army Staff, Major-General, I. Attahiru and Chief of Air Staff, Air-Vice Marshal I.O Amao at the State House, Abuja.

Sir: The appointment of Non-Career Ambassadors or Diplomats by nations is nothing new as it has always been the norm right from time immemorial. But countries always put forward the names of their first 11 to represent them as high powered envoys especially in times of crisis.

It was with shock that I read the nomination of the recently retired service chiefs – Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar. These were service chiefs who performed greatly below expectations while they held sway. There was an order given by President Muhammadu Buhari, the nation’s supposed Commander-in-Chief to the chiefs to relocate to Borno State so as to better tackle the Boko Haram insurgency. These chiefs chose instead to stay in their comfort zone in Abuja without any repercussions from Buhari. What contempt! No form of sanction was meted out to them by Buhari. Soldiers weren’t allowed to leave the battlefield even after spending more than the allotted fighting time, many didn’t have their allowances paid to them; many of their widows were left to fend for themselves with some even immediately thrown out of the military barracks into the cold streets!

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Nigeria boasts of an array of shining stars and talents both at home and in the Diaspora who are contributing positively either to the motherland or their second adopted countries. Why can’t the president tap from their wealth of experience to launder Nigeria’s image which is currently at its lowest ebb? Why field people not even fit to be on the bench using the football sport as an allegory to represent the supposed ‘Giant of Africa’ abroad?

Nigeria’s image is at its nadir. No thanks to the insurgency in the North East, Fulani herdsmen attacks on farmers, the rampaging bandits on our highways, gargantuan level of corruption, corruption which saw our drop in the recent Transparency International Corruption Index and Ease of Doing Business. We are in the news frequently for the wrong reasons. This news inadvertently scares away foreign investors and even many local investors are divesting from the country.

There are many Nigerians in divergent walks of life that would have acted as better diplomats and it is said that Buhari has chosen to reward incompetence with such a prestigious job. For how long will we continue to celebrate failure over merit in a country of abundant human resources and talents?

The Senate should rise up to the occasion by roundly rejecting these nauseating nominations in the nation’s best interest. Anything short of that will amount to a betrayal of the social contract as espoused by John Locke which is supposed to govern the relationship between the legislature and the electorate.

Tony Ademiluyi wrote from Lagos.

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