No fewer than 20 directors of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) have petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki over the 47-man list drawn up by a committee led by a former Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe. The list was recently submitted to the Senate by Mr. Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to the President.

The petitioners, who accuse Kingibe and Kyari of indifference to due process, marked  by disregard for the Federal Character principle and seniority, are calling on the Senate to withhold its confirmation of the names on the  list.

The petitioners identified lopsidedness in the selection exercise, pointing out that states like Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Plateau, Ondo and Sokoto were completely ignored, while others got more than are due to them.

Borno State, for instance, has three nominees, while Adamawa, Bauchi, Kano and Katsina has two each.

On account of this alone, said the petitioners, confirming the nominees would be injurious to the country's unity and national cohesion. 

Another aberration identified by the petitioners was the selection of 10 out of 47 nominees from National Intelligence Agency (NIA). This, they argued, is against the rules establishing the NIA as a separate entity from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961. The petitioners contended, clearly that the Vienna Convention stipulates the character and nature of people eligible for appointment as principal representatives abroad and heads of diplomatic missions. 

Also, they accused the ambassadorial nomination of wanton disregard of seniority in the foreign/diplomatic service. They alleged that nominees from Adamawa, Benue, Borno, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi and Lagos states were junior officers, who have been elevated above more qualified and experienced colleagues.

 This, in itself,  is at variance with the guidelines for ambassadorial nominations and existing practice in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Investigations by SaharaReporters revealed that the aggrieved officers had attempted to draw the attention of the appointment committee to the anomalies before their decision to write a petition.

A delegation led by Ambassador Bulus Lolo, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, met with Mr. Kyari in the hope of drawing his attention to the flaws in the process and get him to correct them. 

SaharaReporters learnt the petitioners requested that due process is followed to prevent a dampening of morale and avoid disharmony at the ministry's  headquarters and in more than 100 embassies and consulates abroad.

However, Kyari rejected their suggestions and went ahead to submit the list drawn up by the Kingibe-led committee to the Senate President without clearing with Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who was the acting President at the time. 

One of the disaffected directors told this medium on condition of anonymity that the meeting with Kyari was a wasteful exercise, as the Chief of Staff to the President was an interested party.

"We shouldn't have wasted our time going to his office for a meeting. Do you know that the only reason Borno State got three nominees, the highest number, was because both Kyari and Kingibe are from that state? Is this not nepotism? This is corruption by other means, and I think President Buhari is wasting his time fighting corruption outside of the Presidential Villa when corruption is being perpetrated right under his very nose. We call on our distinguished Senators to ensure that justice is not only done but also be seen to be done.

They should reject the submitted list and call for fresh nominations in line with Federal Character Principles and based on the seniority of all qualified officers according to existing regulations," the director said. 

Our source also disclosed that Borno State may end up with four ambassadors at the end of the process, as Kingibe has positioned as the political nominee from the state.

"Being former Foreign Affairs Minister himself, he is scheming to be appointed as Nigeria's Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the United Nations just as late General Joe Garba, Professors Ibrahim Gambari, and Joy Ugwu were appointed," he added.


Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari

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