There is anxiety among envoys-designate over likely reshuffle of missions postings.
This follows the nomination of immediate past Service Chiefs and the ex-Chief of Defence Staff for ambassadorial positions.
President Muhammadu Buhari last week nominated Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, Air Marshal Saddique Abubakar and Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas – all retired – as ambassador-nominees. The former military chiefs are awaiting Senate screening.
Before they were nominated, the postings of the career and non-carier ambassadors-designate had been made.
A source said: “The nomination of the former Service Chiefs has made some Ambassadors-Designate with sensitive and robust missions jittery. They are nursing fears that they might be reshuffled.
“Their anxiety was fueled by the postponement of the planned induction for the incoming ambassadors from today to February 16 to accommodate the ex-Service Chiefs who might be screened and cleared this week.
“But, assigning of missions is the prerogative of the President. There is no need for anxiety. He knows why he nominated the former Service Chiefs and the diplomatic roles they are to play to assist the nation to end insurgency.”
Apart from shifting the commencement of the induction, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has adopted austerity measures to save cost and in compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
The ministry has dropped the idea of training the Ambassadors-Designate alongside their spouses. It was also learnt that they will undergo rigorous orientation from 9am to 5pm daily for three days.
A source said: “The ministry has suspended the training of the spouses of the Ambassadors-Designate because of limited resources and COVID-19 protocols.
“We cannot allow 195 people to converge in a conference hall at a time. The Presidential Task Force and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have not given clearance for such number.
“Unlike in the past, the government is not accommodating the Ambassadors-Designate in a five-star hotel.
“They will be given accommodation allowances (as applicable for envoys) and they can make personal arrangement. In this respect, the ministry will save cost.
“It is better for the envoys to face the reality from home so that they can extend the same prudence to our embassies when they assume duties.”
But most ambassadors-designate have disapproved of the austerity measures. “Rather than allowing us to comb Abuja to look for accommodation, we ought to stay in the same hotel for better bonding.
“We need minimal comfort to exchange ideas and learn from each other. In any case, our security is more important, “ one of the sources said.
It was learnt that the executive has started reaching out to the Senate for a” smooth-sail screening of the ex-Service Chiefs. “
A government source said:” Unlike other Ambassadors-Designate, the antecedents of the ex-Service Chiefs and their previous clearance by the Senate will make the screening easier. The Senate only needs to revisit their files and clarify new developments about them.”