THE Federal Government, on Wednesday, cautioned members of the diplomatic community against making what it termed “unguarded utterances” on matters that are strictly within the domestic jurisdiction of Nigeria.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali, gave the warning in Abuja, at an interactive session with the diplomatic community over the shift of the general election.
Wali expressed “the strong displeasure of the Federal Government with the conduct of some heads of mission,” who have continued to breach the laid down diplomatic channels of communication.
According to him, some heads of mission “have continued to behave in an imperial manner and in clear breach of the channel of the diplomatic communication.
“A situation, where a head of mission takes on the role of a government, seeking to impose the views and perspectives of his government and making unguarded utterances on matters that are strictly within the domestic jurisdiction of the host country is totally unacceptable.
“It is only in this country that I have noticed some envoys, who have taken it upon themselves and without recourse to the government to embark on social causes and political advocacy that are totally unrelated to conventional diplomacy and representational duties of ambassadors.”
The minister pointed out that Nigerian envoys abroad do not behave in such manners.
“It is, therefore, unacceptable for envoys to abuse their privileges and immunities by behaving in a manner that would have been met with the opprobrium in their countries were Nigerian ambassadors to behave in like manner.
“Let me be clear on this, the Federal Government will no longer tolerate the excesses of such heads of mission.
“They are, hereby, advised to operate within the norms and etiquette of diplomatic intercourse,” he said.
The minister declared that with the support of Nigerians and the international community, the elections would hold as rescheduled and in a peaceful and violence-free atmosphere.
He said it had become evident that elections could not hold as planned in the three North-East states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
Wali explained that doing so could have put the lives of electoral officials, including observers and ad hoc staff in danger.
He said the decision to shift the elections, as stated by INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, was taken after painstaking consultations with all relevant stakeholders.
He said the Federal Government found the comments already made by some of Nigeria’s friends and partners on the polls shift as judgmental, precipitate and unwaranted.
“What we need at this time is not to be hectored or lectured as to the conduct of Nigeria’s internal affairs, but the deepening of democracy in our country.
“No country, no matter how well-intentioned, can love Nigeria more than Nigerians,” he said.
According to him, there is a broad-based consensus by Nigerians for the elections to hold in all parts of the country, to guarantee the credibility and acceptability of the elections.
“While security has been a major concern, it is obvious that INEC may not have been fully prepared to conduct the elections as earlier scheduled.
“It is a fact that over 34 per cent of registered voters are yet to collect their permanent voter cards.
“There are other logistical and operational challenges, such as adequate provisions for electoral materials including prompt delivery and the training of ad hoc staff, which are critical to the success of the elections.”
Wali said that President Goodluck Jonathan had continued to respect the independence and autonomy of INEC and the judiciary.
He pointed out that INEC had demonstrated its independence through the successful conduct of elections recently, where the ruling party lost.
He thanked the member states of the Lake Chad Basin Commission for their contributions to the operations of the Multi-National Joint Task Force in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency.
“I am confident that as envoys accredited to Nigeria, you will continue to report events in this country factually and accurately, so as to deepen understanding, cooperation and partnership among your individual countries and Nigeria,” he said.