The recently released list of 47 career Ambassadorial nominees is still generating furore in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as aggrieved officers have been firing petitions to the Presidency and the National Assembly.
According to one of such petitions, the aggrieved officers, who are all on Grade Level 17 (Director), noted that the list lost sight of seniority, which has always been a major prerequisite in the appointment of career Ambassadors.
A cursory look at the list of senior officers in the cadre of Director in the Ministry shows that most senior officers in some states were skipped in favour of their juniors even when they still have up to 18 months in service.
The petitioners posited that some states like Cross River, Kano, Kaduna, Gombe and Anambra have consistently been favoured in ambassadorial appointments in the last few years.
The aggrieved Directors also faulted the position being bandied around that Directors who have less than 30 months to retirement were not considered in the latest appointment.
According to the petition, the principle appears discriminatory as “an officer from Gombe had less than 14 months and he was nominated as Ambassador – Designate”.
Yet, others from the southern part of the country in the same bracket were not considered.
The petition added: “The general outlook of the list is not clear and no apparent order or criteria were used thereby making room for insinuations and speculations. For instance, where as some States such as Cross River, Kano, Kaduna, Gombe, Anambra (consistently favoured at every appointment in the last four years against others) were allotted 2 slots, Osun State was given only 1 and yet two of us are due and qualified and am the most Senior of the two and I was skipped.
“The rumour being bandied around was that any officer, in this case, Director who has less than 30 months to retirement will not be considered for ambassadorial appointment. This principle is discriminatory as on officer from Gombe had less than 14 months and he was nominated as Ambassador-Designate.
“I believe it is to avoid chaos or misgiving based on experience over the years that informed the Ministry to use Seniority and quota while at the same time respect Federal Character principle. Regrettably, the list forwarded to the National Assembly including Senate does not put the above factors into consideration and that act has put me, at a disadvantage. The common practice is to select the most Senior Director in each State and follow the perk in that order.
“It is also noteworthy that the abiding principles that guide staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs such as, Seniority, quota, apolitical and anti-corruption tendencies, among others, have all been thrown overboard in this last exercise, which tends to explain why we find ourselves in this situation. Some Deputy Directors SGL (16) who joined the Foreign Service 10 years after my set was selected behind me without any justification.
“Yet, these Officers still have more than 10 years in the Service! So, whose interests are being served by this odd development? Seriously speaking, it appears that the Presidency does not know many things about the list because it is a ‘tsunami’.
“It is regrettable that the values we share and bind us together have suddenly been jettisoned. In effect, rather than progressing and embracing good governance, the list if not improved upon, we will be promoting corruption and indiscipline, which the Buhari Administration frowns at and condemns.”
As a way out, the petitioners suggested that the Presidency could consider conferring the title of Ambassador-in-situ on those skipped if they have been found to have discharged their duties diligently and without disciplinary case in the last three decades.
They recalled that “in a Council decision during the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006, Government had approved for Deputy Directors (SGL 16) and above to automatically be conferred Ambassador-in-situ title once they attain SGL 16 and above.”
The concerned officers therefore, appealed to the Presidency and the National Assembly to put this development into context and salvage the ugly situation that is fast dividing the Foreign Ministry along ethnic line.