Martin Gasiokwu, in his introduction to the article, Diplomacy: History and Development From Antiquity, described Diplomacy as “the management of international relations through the application of intelligence and skill by the representatives of states and other subjects of international relations, for the purpose of achieving desired goals through peaceful means”. This was an echo of the definition of Diplomacy by Ernest Satow as “the application of intelligence and tact to the conduct of official relations between the governments of independent states, extending sometimes also to their relation with vasal states or the conduct of business between states by peaceful means”. These definitions describe relationship between countries. In terms of relationship between individuals in a country or between government and its people, the dictionary defines Diplomacy as “skill in managing negotiations, handling people, etc., so that there is little or no ill will; tact; subtly skillful handling of a situation; wisdom in the management of public affairs.”
The essentials of Diplomacy as indicated by these definitions are management, intelligence, skill, tact, wisdom, negotiations, peace and no ill will in relationships. These are the qualities that differentiate man from other lower animals. As strong as a Lion is, it cannot negotiate. Everything it wants, it gets by force. As big as an Elephant is, it cannot reason. It has remained the way it was created mentally till date. God created every other thing in the universe by unilateral fiat: And God said, “let there be … and there was …”. But when it came to man, God consulted with the entire Godhead: “And God said, “Let us” make man in our image, after our likeness …” (Genesis 1:26), signaling the way of life he prefers for man which is to live peacefully together through negotiations and consultations, hence through diplomacy. God never contemplated man to manage his relationship with fellow men by force.
The fall of man through sin reversed man’s fortunes and made man’s soul start yielding to earthly desires and force. The first Son of creation, Cain, murdered his brother, Abel, because God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and rejected his own because of sin. Is this not reasoning like an animal? Contrast this with a Prince called Solomon, who inherited a kingdom from his Father, King David, and when asked by God what he wanted, he requested for wisdom to enable him manage the affairs of his people very well. Diplomacy is “wisdom in the management of public affairs.” God gave him the wisdom, in other words, the spirit of diplomacy and he was able to manage the whole empire without fighting any war until he died. Kings and Queens from other Kingdoms submitted to him by the sheer sophistry of his reasoning and wisdom. He subdued the whole world through diplomacy, making him to write in Ecclesiastes 9:18 that “Wisdom is better than weapons of war”, meaning diplomacy is better than force.
Wisdom is the correct application of knowledge. When we say that someone is wise, there’s a presumption that the person is knowledgeable. Solomon was highly educated before he assumed the Kingship of his father. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. This is why diplomacy bestows on leaders humility, civility, knowledge, wisdom and calmness because it has a divine origin. You cannot find diplomats making unguarded utterances because diplomacy endows you with the ability to think before you talk. They are philosophers mainly. Any diplomat who makes unguarded utterances that put his country in bad light is instantly recalled. In Nigeria, a lot of our leaders talk before they think. Maybe because of our long years of military rule where leadership is gained by force and exercised by force. In a democracy, it is a different thing. Leaders are expected to lead only through diplomacy as the people must be carried along peacefully. There are different arms of government that are checking and balancing each other and they are supposed to be relating with each other through sound reasoning, negotiations and compromise. Our leaders therefore need to acquire diplomatic skills to be able to lead us successfully in a democratic world.
Diplomacy has its rules and its enemies. Its enemies include pride, anger and foolishness. Most Nigerian leaders possess one or more of these enemies of diplomacy. Foolishness is a very serious enemy to diplomacy and depicts a person that lacks knowledge and common sense. He hates studying and acquiring knowledge. Knowledge is the acquiring of facts. It’s not a gift so it cannot be acquired through prayers. You have to study or learn to acquire knowledge. It’s said that if you want to hide anything to a Nigerian, put it in a book. Our laziness in acquiring knowledge is depicted in everything we do.
Recently there was an incident in Shasha, Oyo State that resulted in the clash between Hausa and Yoruba communities. This led to some Hausa youths forcefully blocking the movement of agricultural products to the South West. It also led to the threat of some Southern youths to block the flow of oil from South to North. Firstly, some of the agricultural products owned by Northerners are perishable. When you block them from going to the South and they get spoilt, who lost? Who told the blocking youths that everyone that lives in the South are of Southern origin? Majority of the northerners living in the South depend on trading on these items for a living in the South to survive. Majority of the suya makers and sellers in the south are of northern origin. The southerners even pay money to the northern butchers to kill the cow after purchase because they are more proficient in it and when any cow bought was not for immediate use, money is paid to the herdsman to take care of the cow until the day of use. So when you block food from going to south, the northerners you think you are fighting for may likely lose more.
On the other hand, the southerners who are threatening to block oil supply to the north may find out that they may even lose more. There are more southerners who are into commercial haulage of goods and services within Nigeria than northerners. More southerners live in the north than northerners live in the south and with the capital in Abuja, the number is increasing daily. Assuming you have oil in the South and it’s not in the North and a transporter fills his tank in the south going to North, where will he get the oil in the North for the return journey? Where will the southerners living in the north get their own oil to do their own business? This is the foolishness of the mouth who ordered that the head be cut off not realising that the mouth will be cut off with the head. No wonder God lamented that the people perish for lack of knowledge. The people enforcing these blockades should learn what President Obama inscribed on the Oval rug in the Oval office which I had the privilege to see when I was invited for a tour of the White House. Hear him, “The welfare of each of us is dependent on the welfare of all of us”. These crises, which are normal in a heterogeneous society should be settled diplomatically not by force or unnecessary bravado otherwise all of us will pay dearly for it.
Since knowledge is a cardinal requirement for diplomacy, our Constitution should be amended to ensure that our leaders are well educated. Education exposes one to the way of life of other people and in a multi-cultural society as ours, our diversity will be more harnessed by men with great knowledge, education and exposure.
Pride is that attitude that makes a person exalt himself above everyone and looks down on others. The proud person is all knowing and expects no opposition from people especially subordinates. He is disrespectful in words and very undiplomatic in his relationship with others. Anybody who criticises him is slated for destruction. He sees solution through consultation and diplomacy as a sign of weakness. Pride is the gateway to Godfatherism in Nigeria politics. The Godfather has the arrogance of knowing all things and being all powerful because whatever he says must be obeyed. Most times they play God and cherishes the God that is attached to them. God resists the Godfathers because of their pride for He doesn’t want to share His glory with anyone. Pride goes before the fall of the Godfather.
Anger is the general term for a sudden violent displeasure and belligerence sometimes aroused by a perceived wrong. It steers the wrath of man. Anger makes you talk before you think because your intention is to hurt someone else. The reaction of the angry person is always forceful and violent and very undiplomatic. A wise and diplomatic person controls his anger because God warned that “Human anger does not achieve God’s righteous purpose. (James 1:20 GNB). I recall a Nigerian social critic that admittedly has a “short fuse” (His own term for being easily provoked) who likes taking on high profile human beings. On the day he addressed the press on the achievements of a certain Governor and was asked by a journalist on who was bankrolling him, his short fuse detonated and he exploded into obscenities against the young journalist. He lambasted the journalist with denigrating and undiplomatic words and even threatened to report him to his superiors for appropriate disciplinary actions. When tempers cooled he discovered that he goofed and was the one who was fired from his press tour. The young journalist became celebrated with the social critic apologising to him. It pays to be diplomatic no matter who you are relating with because diplomacy has divine origin. The ability and humility of the social critic apologising to the journalist was a mark of strength not weakness and is a diplomatic means of restoration. I saw Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi apologising on TV for some of his unguarded utterances and that was commendable. Whoever genuinely admits his mistakes and apologises should be forgiven, restored and re-accepted for to err is human and to forgive is divine. Diplomacy entails forgiveness because the whole concept of democracy is achieving desired goals through peaceful means. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.