by Stanley Azuakola
The first time Ojo Maduekwe served in government, Shehu Shagari was the president. It was in 1983, almost thirty years ago. Yesterday, President Goodluck Jonathan made it “government position number 10” for Maduekwe when he appointed him as Nigeria’s Ambassador to Canada. The posting was all the more curious because Ojo Maduekwe had served as Minister of Foreign Affairs as recently as 2010, but with the new appointment, is now expected to report to Olugbenga Ashiru, the current Minister.
Maduekwe was just one of 93 people issued letters of credence as ambassadors to other countries by the president on Tuesday June 12. At the event which took place in the State House Abuja, President Jonathan charged the new ambassadors to be the torchbearers of the vision and purpose of his administration. “We will be the little Jonathan wherever we are,” Maduekwe responded when he gave a vote of thanks on behalf of the new ambassadors.
The ambassadors, who are to move immediately to their countries of posting, are to serve as 62 Heads of Mission; 24 Deputy Heads of Mission; and 7 ambassadors-in-situ, who would be domiciled in Nigeria.
According to President Jonathan, the brief of the new ambassadors will include attracting investments into the country; opening up markets abroad for Nigerian goods and services; projecting Nigeria as a united, indivisible country; and showing commitment to the defence of the interests of Nigerians living and operating lawfully in their countries of accreditation.
The ambassadors are also expected to constantly engage Nigerians in the Diaspora to support and make contributions to national development, especially in the areas of finance, ICT and intellectual property.
The president reminded them that economic diplomacy and Africa remain at the centre of Nigeria’s foreign policy agenda.
Ojo Maduekwe was posted to Canada. He had served at various times in the past as Ministers of Culture and Tourism, Transport, and Foreign Affairs. He has also been Legal Adviser to the president, Member of House of Representatives, Senator, PDP National Secretary, among other positions.
Other new envoys include former Minister of Aviation, Fidelia Njeze (Switzerland), former General Manager of Nigeria Television Authority, Ibadan, Akinyemi Farounbi (Philippines), former Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Taofeek Arapaja, former Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Cornelius Oluwateru, as well as wife of the late Biafran leader, Bianca Ojukwu.
In all, there were 11 female envoys, constituting less than 12 percent of the total number of ambassadors. There were also 7 ambassadors-in-situ who would be domiciled in the country. They include the State House Chief of Protocol, Olutola Onijala; the Presidential Liaison Officer, Abubakar Waziri and Abdulkadir Musa. Others are Ridhwan Mustapha, Ozoemenam Nwobu, Sunday Omoigiade and Harrison Solaja.
Congratulations are in order – but surely by now, they’re par for the course for Maduekwe.