From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, yesterday, charged officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to change the narratives about the country.
Onyeama stated this during the opening of a three-day induction programme for over 350 officers posted to Nigerian missions abroad in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Onyeama told the officers that it had been a rocky and bumpy road to get to the point in which they were set to depart the country, adding that he was however glad that the day had arrived.
“I am here to rejoice and to express my love for you all and to say that we have to keep hope alive, we have to maintain solidarity. We are in this thing together and by God’s grace, we will all be an asset for our country, Nigeria. That is what it is really all about, about Nigeria, not about us, not about our individual aspiration.
“So, I do thank God for today, I do thank God because at the end of the day, this is what you are all here for, this is why you all joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to serve as diplomats, to serve your country around the world, to show what Nigeria has to offer, to bring the best for your country in engaging with other countries.
“You are going to represent this country. A lot of the narratives are not always positive about our country, and very often, about our ministry. So, you have huge responsibility on your shoulders. You are going out to represent Nigeria during very difficult days. These are very difficult days for our country. And sometimes, I worry for your generation because you are faced with huge challenges within the country and outside the country. And as the best brains that we have, it will now rests on your shoulders to transform the narratives, to transform the narratives about Nigeria, to transform the narratives about our ministry, to transform the narratives about our missions. Every day you go on social media, these days, I am afraid even to go on social media. If it is not one video clip or the other about the mission, or the ministry or one thing or the other. So, let’s try and turn this around,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama further said around the world, Nigerian embassies and Nigerian diplomats were highly regarded in the multilateral sectors, particularly at the United Nations and others as evident in the positions Nigerians were getting.
He recalled the recent appointment of a Nigerian as the Deputy Director-General of the International Organization for Migration, saying that the appointment showed the caliber of people Nigeria had.
Onyeama also disclosed that a lot of the resolutions that the United Nations are making were sponsored by Nigeria in Geneva, in New York and in Vienna.
“Our ambassador to Vienna was just recruited to become the representative in New York of the International Atomic Energy Agency. So, we have everything it takes. And contrary to the often negative narratives about you, about me, about us, the reality that people forget is that very often, you are working in very difficult conditions. Very, very difficult conditions that very often, funding is not always there, you have power challenges and you will still have to churn out and produce documents at very short notice, sometimes without electric power available, doing wonderful things in very, very difficult circumstances and that is not always what comes out in the narratives,” Onyeama also said.
Onyeama saluted the diplomats for their hard work and for putting in efforts in difficult conditions to ensure efficient service delivery in the ministry.
The minister also reminded the diplomats of the current economic hardship in the country, but however said that the government was working out says to make it easier for the diplomats to operate outside the country.
Also speaking, the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, stressed that posting and indeed, foreign service was not only a rare privilege, but also a call to service for the nation.
“And as you are going out there, remember, and this is also what the minister has said, that our country is challenged. It is a great country, it is a big country, you are going out there representing this very big and great country, potentially rich, but it is still a country that is being looked upon for leadership, for vision,” Abubakar said.