By Bukar Bolori
The Federal Government (FG) has expressed the imperative of those in the Foreign Service of the country to ensure that the image of the country remained untainted.
The FG made the call on Thursday while tasking the participants of the 25th Regular Course of the Foreign Service Academy (FSA) not to soil Nigeria’s image abroad.
The call was made even as the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Adamu Lamuwa, charged the graduating foreign service officers to always remember that their ultimate mandate is to defend, advance and protect the national interest.
Lamuwa, who spoke at the Graduation of the 25th Regular Course of the Foreign Service Academy (FSA), at the Ministry’s headquarters in Abuja, also asked the graduands to go out there and give back to the system what it gave to them.
The former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Martin Uhomoibhi, said, foreign service is a sacred duty, and a call to holiness.
Uhomoibhi, who was former President of the United Nations Human Rights Council, told the graduands to consider themselves lucky, as only few are privileged to fly Nigeria’s flag, outside the shores of the country.
The retired Nigerian Ambassador, said that to be amongst the elite civil servants is not only a privilege but also, a huge responsibility.
He said: “Please don’t soil our image, you are there to promote, project, protect and defend the Nigeria’s interest, not your own interest. It is a sacred duty, it is a call to holiness and it is uncompromisable. You can’t be a drunk and be a diplomat, and expect to be respected. You cannot be a vagabond and expect to be respected. It is a sacred duty, a call to holiness. To be a diplomat and a flyer of Nigeria flag, you must be unblemished. It is also a call to excellence, you must read books to excel as a diplomat.
“Knowledge is key, because you cannot give what you do not have. If you puts a buffoon in office, you gets buffoonery, you can pray from now till next year and God will feel insulted. So, as a representative of Nigeria you must seek knowledge, you must know. You must know God, you must apply God in your work. God should not take second place in your life, even as a diplomat, faith is powerful”.
Uhomoibhi, while admonishing the new foreign service officers to be empathetic to Nigerians abroad, said, “you are representing Nigeria, you must listen to Nigerians outside the shores of this country who come to you. It does not always have to be money. If you don’t have money you can receive or be nice to them, empathy not sympathy. You must put yourself in the shoes of stranded Nigerians who have no other relation out there except you”.
The Head of Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, said, training and retraining of staff brings out the best in them, hence her interest in capacity building.
Yemi-Esan, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Career Management Office, Dr. Marcus Ogunbiyi, charged the graduating foreign service officers to acquaint selves with the civil service rules, as that will guide them throughout their career.
The Director General, National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ahmed Abubakar, represented by Director Training NIA, Ambassador Chituru Chendo, encouraged the graduands to make use of emotional intelligence at all time.
Earlier in his address of welcome, the Head, Foreign Service Academy, Amb. Franklin Oguyemi, said, the 25th Regular Course of the Foreign Service Academy (FSA), was significant as it marks the implemention of the new foreign service academy curriculum.
He said the aim of the new curriculum is to produce diplomats who are physically, mentally and intellectually prepared to navigate the ever-changing world of diplomacy including possessing the necessary knowledge and skills to project, advance and protect Nigeria’s interest beyond its borders.
He noted that to achieve these objectives, the participants were thoroughly trained in various subjects such as international law, diplomacy, Nigeria’s history, public service and bureaucracy, critical issues in international affairs, multilateral and bilateral diplomacy, Nigeria’s relation with other countries, protocol etiquette, life at diplomatic post and public presentation amongst others.
He further noted that these efforts were aimed at developing diplomats who can effectively and efficiently function in the 21 century.