The outpouring of disgust that trailed the assault on a Nigerian diplomat serving in Jakarta, Indonesia, has again raised questions about Nigeria’s diplomatic engagements with the rest of the world. Nigerian diplomat, Abdul Ibrahim was seen on a viral video almost being strangled by Indonesian immigration officials for allegedly moving in the streets without identification.
The Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and the public have condemned the despicable behaviour and registered their displeasure by summoning the Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Usra Hendra Harahap, who has apologised on behalf of his country, promising that his country will investigate the issue. The Nigerian Ambassador to Indonesia, Usman Ogah has also been invited home for more consultation.
However, experts have said that Nigeria needs to take more drastic action because the assault contravened the Vienna Convention.
Former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and one time Nigerian envoy to Ethiopia, Ambassador Bulus Lolo, described the action of the Indonesian officials as ‘barbaric’, even as he urged the government to work towards improving the image of Nigeria, which has been battered over the years.
Apart from the diplomat that was assaulted, there are increasing cases of other Nigerians who have also been so badly treated as a result of misbehaviour in some cases. To this, Lolo says our behaviour must be such that people will respect us. He also attributed maltreatment of Nigerians to the desperate economic situation of the country.
Ambassador Ogbole Ode, former Nigeria’s Acting High Commissioner to Singapore, said that Nigeria’ image around the world has so deteriorated that the country is becoming irrelevant due to dwindling economic fortunes of the country.
“So, what that translates into our foreign policy posture is that our foreign policy has been on the decline in terms of formulation, execution and consequences. We are increasingly becoming irrelevant compared to the 60s and 70s,” he said.
He however, denounced the mistreatment of the Nigerian diplomat, adding that Indonesia failed to abide by the Vienna Convention on diplomatic and consular relations, which the two countries are signatory to. He said that if the Indonesian authorities do not provide satisfactory answers to this assault, Nigeria must apply the same measures to Indonesia. This provocative development grossly falls short of the standard of treatment deserving of a Nigerian not to talk of a Diplomat.
This raises too many questions about the fast fading stature of Nigeria’s diplomatic image and value in the international plane coupled with the many cases of assault against other Nigerians in many countries of the world including Africa, with references made to Ghana and South Africa.
According to an expert, Livingston Wechie, treatment of Nigerians abroad is not unconnected to the disdainful treatment that Nigerians are subjected to by their own country, adding that the way a state treats her citizens is a mirror and a reflection of how foreign states will treat such citizens.