Outgoing Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Dr. U.E. Emenike, has been described as one of the best things to happen to the Nigerian Mission in Washington, D.C. According to stakeholders, she has left a standard that would be difficult to match.
A former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Robin Sanders, said that “Amb. Emenike ticked all the right boxes of a great diplomat and greatly enhanced the relationship between the United States and Nigeria; she knocked on and indeed opened every door in Washington, D.C.”
Other diplomats and staff of the Embassy of Nigeria in Washington, D.C., also extolled the achievements of Amb. Emenike, who incidentally was Nigeria’s first female Ambassador to the United States, as she completed her tour of duty.
Emenike became the 15th ambassador, after 14 male ambassadors had served at the Nigerian Embassy since its opening on October 1, 1960. She assumed duty on May 17, 2021, and concluded her tour of duty on October 31, in compliance with the Federal Government’s directive.
At a reception organized in her honour at the Embassy of Nigeria on Sunday in Washington, D.C., the staff testified that her tenure ushered in reforms at the Embassy. The anchor of the reception and Minister/Head of Trade, Investment, and Multilateral Section, Amb. Aisha Dewa, described Emenike as a great woman, leader, and unifier.
The staff also lauded her leadership qualities, excellent relationship, charming characteristics, and success in strengthening bilateral relations between Nigeria and the U.S.
Amb. Mobolaji Ogundero, Charge D’Affairs ai (CDA ai), shared her experience working with Emenike as the Deputy Head of Mission, describing her as a sister.
“When the Minister told me I have been posted to work with her, I said she is a woman, and the Minister told me that she is your sister. Honestly, I met it that way, and I give everything to her,” she said.
In her remarks, Mrs. Titilayo Kolade, Head of Chancery, described the out-going Ambassador as an excellent administrator, a leader worthy of emulation, and a meticulous boss. Her Excellency is indeed a source of pride for every girl child,” said Kolade.
Similarly, Minister/Head of Economic Section, Mr. Rabiu Lawal, commended the open-door policy of Emenike as well as her support and love for her staff.
“I think, as head of unit, the most important aspect as a leader is to have access to her anytime. Anytime I went to her Excellency, she would welcome me.
“If you have an idea, approach her; she will accept it and modify it; she will not push your idea aside. This is a good quality, and Nigeria will continue to benefit from her wealth of experience,” he said.
Alhaji Abdulmajeed Yabagi, Head of Immigration Section, said the unit experienced smooth service delivery during the tenure of Amb. Emenike.
“I’m glad to say that during the tenure of the outgoing Ambassador Emenike, the Immigration Section was able to work assiduously towards seamless service delivery to Nigerians.
“I’m glad to announce that we don’t have any backlog of passports issuance except for those with some technical issues, particularly National Identity Number (NIN)-related matters,” he said.
In the area of visa issuance, Yabagi said the unit had been able to keep pace with the requests of applicants.
“We do have a few challenges with some intervention cases that are being handled right now, and in a few days from now, we should be done with that.
“It is also worthy to note that passports and visa applications to Washington, D.C., have increased due to our seamless service delivery,” he said.
Speaking on the achievements of Emenike, Amb. Anthony Alonwu, Minister/Head Political Section, said the outgoing Ambassador improved relations between the Embassy of Nigeria in Washington, D.C., and the United States Congress.
According to him, in a bid to disabuse the U.S. authorities of the opinion that the Nigerian Security Forces perpetrate human rights abuses in their fight against terrorism in the country, the Embassy, under the leadership of the Ambassador, opened a channel of communication.
“The Embassy opened a channel of communication with the State Department and the members of the U.S. Congress.
“Specifically, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as the Congressional Black Caucus in the U.S. Congress,” he said.
Alonwu said the aim was to ensure effective communication between the Embassy and the members of the U.S. Congress for a better understanding of each other’s positions. He said the communication channel offered the Embassy the opportunity to inform the U.S. Congress of the true situation in Nigeria.
“During her tenure, the Ambassador led several engagements of Embassy officials to Capitol Hill and met with the leadership of both the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the House Foreign Affairs Committee in this regard.
“This move allowed the Embassy to correct the negative and biased narratives propagated by NGOs and human rights activists about the situation of things in Nigeria.
“The Embassy, under the tenure of Ambassador Emenike, enjoyed a robust relationship with the Congress, which led to increased support of Nigeria by the United States, like the supply of military equipment for the fight against terrorism in Nigeria,” Alonwu said.
He further said the Embassy received a 20-man delegation of the Senior Executive Course 45, 2023, of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), led by the Director General of the Institute, Prof. Ayo Omotayo.
“The visit was the first time the NIPSS delegation successfully undertook one in the United States in recent times.
“The Embassy, under the leadership of the Ambassador, worked hard and confirmed appointments of the visitors with some key United States Departments and Agencies, including the United States Department of State, the United States Department of Energy, and U.S. think tanks like the Wilson Center,” he said.
Emenike, overwhelmed by the commendations from the staff, thanked them for their support and expressed gratitude to Nigerians in the U.S.
“Dear Nigerians in America, I want to say it’s been nice having the privilege and opportunity to serve you in the United States.
“Thank you for those who supported me; thank you for those who kept praying for me. As I take my leave, I wish you guys all the best and God bless,” the outgoing Ambassador said.
Ambassador Emenike joined Nigeria’s foreign service 33 years ago and served in the Protocol Department and Africa Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Subsequently, she was posted to the Nigerian Embassy in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, in 1992, where she served for six years.
Upon her return to headquarters in Nigeria, she was deployed to other departments of the Ministry, during which she represented Nigeria in numerous bilateral and multilateral missions, both at home and abroad.
In 2002, Emenike left the Foreign Service for the private sector, where, amongst others, she worked as a Management Consultant.
Emenike was brought back to serve her country when the immediate past President, Muhammadu Buhari, appointed her as Nigeria’s Ambassador to Ireland with concurrent accreditation to Iceland in 2017.