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Humility in Diplomacy and Terrible Things in Righteousness: The Case of Ambassador Bello Kazaure

Humility in Diplomacy and Terrible Things in Righteousness: The Case of Ambassador Bello Kazaure

Bola A. Akinterinwa 

‘Humility in Diplomacy’ was the title of Ambassador Bello Hussein Kazaure’s autobiography, which was reviewed by Professor Bola A. Akinterinwa, and presented in his absence by Dr (Mrs) Tola Ilesanmi of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs on Thursday, 30th March, 2023 at the Conference Hall of the Tafawa Balewa House (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). At the Conference were very notable dignitaries including many Ministers, Foreign Service Officers and traditional Rulers. 

The public presentation of the book at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) is quite interesting because the MFA is a diplomatic village in itself. It is a place where diplomacy in all its ramifications is hatched like an egg. It is a zoo to borrow the expression from the sagacious Leslie Harriman. But, it is an altar of injustice on which the prayers of deceit are placed, and more interestingly, it is also the terra cognita of well-baked professionals and Directors. The Ministry has the highest number of Level 17 Civil Servants or Directors.

Consequently, when discussing humility, the question that quickly comes to mind is whether the MFA really plays host to humility, especially in light of the many terrible things in righteousness that happen there. The book has examples of terrible things in righteousness, that is, cases of people punished for trying to do what is just, fair and humanitarian. 

Apart from the MFA being considered as a depository of institutional humility, there is no qualm in any Foreign Service Officer adopting the culture of humility in the course of performance of his or her duties. In international diplomatic practice, the Japanese and Chinese ambassadors are noted for their show of humility by bowing in spite of the institution of sovereign equality. The application of the principle of sovereign equality does not allow for humility. The practice is mutual respect, and non-intervention in the domestic affairs that fall under the exclusive competence of other sovereign States. This is why Ambassador Kazaure’s book is particularly interesting from the perspective of the remarks made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama. He was reported to have said that humility achieves better result than bullying. This statement is valid if it is qualified by ‘under normal circumstances’ and ‘not always.’ It was humility-driven faithfulness in the performance of official duties that almost completely destroyed the NIIA even under the watch of Mr Onyeama. Consequently, what really is humility in diplomacy? 

The Book and the Truth

Let us begin with the book and art of book review. The word ‘review,’ has two main functional challenges: examination and result. The examination is explained by the first three letters: R, E, and V while the result is explained by the three other letters: I,E,W. In terms of intellectual challenge therefore, a REVIEW simply requires compliance with the meaning of the six letters: letter ‘R’ means ‘Read the Book; E means Examine the sources, logical consistency of data in the various chapters, especially the organograms, tables, etc.; V means Verify the extent of scientificity of arguments put forward in the book; I means Inform the august audience and the generality of the public about the outcome of finding; E signifies Engage the author in the determination of extent of his contribution to existing knowledge; while W means What recommendation?

The reading and examination of the book, in terms of format and content, is quite interesting in many ways. Format wise, it is a standard book of journal size, 9” by 6”. All the printed copies were in hard binding, with the international rules on margins, running head, etc. well respected. There were no soft copies. In terms of lettrine, type of font and size, photographs, etc. they were attractive and legible. The chapterisation and content analyses are particularly noteworthy. For example, in the preliminary pages of the book, the author recognized the collective efforts of his parents in bringing him up ‘in the best traditions of the Hausa/Fulani culture, and therefore, dedicated the book to them, especially for their encouragement in the pursuit of Western education. This also means that both the parents and the author do not share the anti-Westernisation philosophy of the Boko Haramists. 

The foreword, written by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency, Mr. Geoffrey Onyema, is noteworthy. In the words of the Minister, ‘I have worked closely with Ambassador Bello over the years. In course of my engagements with him, he has demonstrated a huge sense of loyalty to Nigeria, unalloyed dedication to the Foreign Service, and high-level commitment to his demanding schedules. Commendably, he has done all these with humility.’ And More importantly, he said the author ‘particularly promotes relations with members of the diplomatic corps, makes difficult issues appear simple due (to) his serio-comic style of dealing with such issues, and remains an invaluable asset to Nigeria’s foreign policy exertions.’ Without whiff of doubt, an autobiography is essentially a self-account. The foreword by the Foreign Minister is an evaluation from a distance, which clearly projects the author beyond self-evaluation.

In terms of structure of the book, it is chapterised into thirteen which we divided into three main parts: up-bringing and marriage; diplomatic experiences, and his diplomatic philosophy. As regards his up-bringing, this is covered in the first four chapters of the book. In chapter two, which is on childhood and family life, emphasis was placed on environmental conditionings as a major dynamic of the goodness or otherwise of every individual, and that what the author is today, particularly in nurturing courteous relationships with everyone, is necessarily a resultant from his environmental background. As Ambassador Kazaure put it, ‘our ultimate experiences in life are largely dependent on the kinds of relationships we build and the alliances we forge. Whenever we get the opportunity, we must intentionally build relationships and forge alliances, for they will add to the quality of the experiences that we will eventually have in our quality.’ As a member of the royal family, the author noted the challenges of being of a royal blood: ‘having a certain image hanging on one’s shoulders can be constraining and overwhelming sometimes, we must look beyond the pressure and instead use that as an opportunity to build a life that is far removed from the pedestrian for it comes with its unprecedented blessings.’

Chapter three was about the quest of the author for Western education. Three main dynamics were identified for the quest: parental experience and impact, interest of the author to wear smart uniforms like the older ones, and government’s mass education programme. He began his primary school education in September 1975 at the Kudu Central Primary School, Kazaure. What is noteworthy in this chapter is the discouragement the author had in the quest for education and how ‘God made it up for (him) in intelligence and expertise in sports.’ As the author put it, ‘I had stellar performances in both academic and extracurricular activities. I also found favour with my teachers because of my academic performance, who (sic) often showered me with positive comments such as “you have a bright future”, “you will go places,” and “this boy will make it.’ 

Becoming a husband and father was the title of chapter four. The author says marriage provides emotional support and companionship, as well as fosters personal growth and development. He began his journey as a husband in 1992 after his convocation ceremony at the Bayero University, Kano. The challenges of how not to pollute the royal blood with bad choice of a wife, early marriage, and more interestingly, how the author accompanied a friend to the house of a relation and ended up finding his first wife to be, and who eventually had six children for him, were explicated in this chapter. He married a second wife, Hajiya Maryam on April 7, 2017 through another friend. The second wife has two children, meaning that Ambassador Kazaure has eight children to his credit.

Chapter 5 is on the Ambassador’s service to the fatherland in return for what the system had given him. It is an ‘attempt at actualizing my dream of giving back to my people for their investment.’ He worked with his State Public Service and crossed to the Federal Civil Service. He began his diplomatic career with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 11th of March, 1993. He passed through the Foreign Service Academy and noted his experiences before he was deployed to the headquarters along with the Group 62 (G-62) in April 1994. Life at the headquarters was more challenging than ever before, the author explained. The chapter concludes the first part based on our typology.

Part two, which deals with the author’s diplomatic experiences, begins with chapter six focusing on the making of a diplomat. It is titled ‘the emergence of a diplomat.’ He was posted out along with the other members of G-62 who graduated from the Foreign Service Academy in 1994. The posting was in compliance with the policy on newly recruited staff. More interesting were his posting to Zimbabwe in 1998 and his return to Abuja in September 2000. The one-year training programme at the Foreign Service Academy was converted to a regular posting and the author was posted to the Trade and Investments Division of the Foreign Ministry.  

Truth and Terrible Things

Ambassador Kazaure served in India from 2003 to 2007. The story is covered in chapter seven. Politics of choice of where to be posted to, because of meager Foreign Service Allowance, was discussed. He was advised by a friend who had served in India not to accept the posting to India because of poor service allowance, but he accepted posting to India even though he had the opportunity to lobby against the posting, the then Minister being a relation and from the same State with the author. Indeed, Ambassador Kazaure was Counselor, Senior Counselor, as well as Head of Chancery, with the assignment becoming more ‘engaging because it was more ‘managerial than operational.’

After India, he was deployed to the Directorate of Technical Aid Corps (TAC), where he served from June 2007 to June 2009. He served as Personal Assistant to Ambassador Mamman Daura, the then Director of TAC, with additional responsibility of working with the technical team that undertook the selection, recruitment, and posting of volunteers to different countries within the framework of the TAC. He was also charged with the responsibility of logistical arrangements for the volunteers until June 2009 when he was posted to Kuwait.

Diplomatic life is the focus of chapter eight of the book. He served as Head of Chancery following the reopening of the Embassy of Nigeria, following its closure from 1990 to 2009 as a result of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The posting to Kuwait not only raises the internal struggle for juicy posts, but also how official positions are used to victimize people. Two points are noteworthy in this chapter. First is that Ambassador Kazaure, as Head of Chancery, still performed other functions in light of the limited number of home-based staff. Second is the insolvency of the Embassy and the reason identified by the author is cause for concern. As he put it, ‘member of the Kuwaiti Royal Family owned our chancery. He was also the mission’s main contractor. He was so influential that his bills were not subjected to scrutiny at all.’ And perhaps more commendably, Ambassador Kazaure insisted that the mission be relocated to a more economical property. ‘This move saved the Mission’s financial burden and eventually cleared the huge debt and set the pace that enabled the Mission to meet up its (obligations) as at when due. When the author returned to the headquarters, he was deployed to the Office of the Vice President, State House in Abuja.

Thereafter, he was posted to Japan and chapter nine of the book covered the controversial experiences. One very important aspect of it is that Nigeria’s ambassador to Japan did not want Ambassador Kazaure posted to Japan because there already were two Hausa officers and one Igbo man. The Nigerian Ambassador insisted on ethnic balancing. True, Ambassador Kazaure was to have travelled to Japan to resume duty before the appointment of Ambassador Aminu Wali as Foreign Minister. Ambassador Wali dissolved the posting committee that recommended Ambassador Kazaure to resume duty in Japan. This put an abrupt end to the resumption of duty of Ambassador Kazaure.

As posterity would have it, the Minister of State asked Ambassador Kazaure to represent him in the newly formed posting committee. As such, the Nigerian ambassador to Japan, who kicked against the posting of Ambassador Kazaure to Japan, simply complained directly to the persona non grata that Ambassador Kazaure was. The question here is this: is it wrong to have asked for non-posting of an additional Fulani, if there were two of them already in Japan? The rest is history.

Chapter ten is on Ambassador Kazaure’s posting to Australia as High Commissioner with concurrent accreditation to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Jiji Island and Vanuatu from 2017 to 2020. Again, the challenge in the case of posting to Australia is not intra-ministerial or Foreign-Ministry based. In Japan, Ambassador Kazaure lived with his two wives in Japan. But this opportunity was not allowed in the context of Australia which does not recognize polygamy. Consequently, the second wife was not issued visa and Kazaure’s eldest daughter was also not given visa because she was already over eighteen years and could not be considered as a dependant. In fact, more difficult was securing accommodation for the second wife and the daughter who could not have visas for Australia. After Australia and other countries over which he had accreditation, Ambassador Kazaure returned home and was appointed the Chief of Protocol of the Foreign Ministry.

Part three of the book is the diplomatic philosophy of the author which is generally covered in chapter eleven. The philosophy is service without expecting rewards. In this regard, he sees himself as a servant leader, being a true patriot, being a bridge builder, and a custodian of the national asset. It is within this philosophical framework that he appeared to have been deemed fit to be honoured with the title of the Chiroman Rugan Kazaure the making of which is the focus of chapter twelve. 

In the words of Ambassador Kazaure, his appointment was due to existence of vacancy, prevailing environmental and political factors, the implementation of government policy, and his qualifications. And true, who says he does not have the required qualifications? Chapter thirteen, which is the last chapter, covers recognitions, appreciations and  awards given to him by different organisations. 

The foregoing is about the truths on Ambassador Kazaure’s postings which are quite different from the systemic truths back home, and which Foreign Minister Onyeama should avoid confusing. Nigeria is a terra cognita for terrible things in righteousness, simply because patriotism, dint of hard work, loyalty and manifestation of Godly acts is generally punished in Nigeria. Let the Foreign Minister publicly deny or explain his silence over what happened in the NIIA under his watch before the current efforts at restoration of the NIIA. True, the system discourages the showing of faithfulness in Nigeria. Community and national awards are given to people who actually work against national unity, national progress and cultivation of honesty of purpose in the governance of Nigeria. Terrible things, terrible policy measures, terrible sanctions are often taken against agents of patriotism. This is truism.

I experienced terrible things in righteousness as NIIA Director General when I refused to dance to the tunes of the General Ike Nwachukwu-led Governing Council and opted to do what was right. In fact, those who work for the uplifting of Nigeria, by particularly protecting the national interest, are always the first to be persecuted on the altar of lies for simply  walking on the path of righteousness as instructed by God in the Holy Bible. And true enough again, because the governance system does not allow faithfulness in Nigeria to prevail, those who want to build a new Nigeria that will be completely free from toga of politico-economic chicanery, religious and ethnic bigotry and threats of Fulanisation or Islamisation agenda are unnecessarily compelled to leave the country. I will not leave the country. I will wait behind to join others in fighting societal ills for posterity. We will stand upright in rejecting the obnoxious insinuations that every non-expert put in political position necessarily becomes an extraordinary expert by virtue of mere occupation of such political positions. Serious academics deal with issues and not with people per se. Humility must not prevent them from always standing by the truth. Intellectual honour is different from honorary chieftaincy title. Alleged arrogance of some foreign affairs students should therefore always be put in context. 

Foreign Minister Onyeama reportedly said: ‘very often, over the past seven years, we hear scholars and others in international relations and foreign affairs writing about what the Ministry should and should not be doing, as well as what the diplomats should and should not be doing. They expect us as a big country to be banging the tables hard and throwing our weight around. Humility in diplomacy is very apt, especially in the context of a lot of what is happening globally. Yes, you might be big, but ultimately, humility is very important…’ More importantly, he added that ‘you very often find that humility can actually help you to be more successful and achieve those interests rather than throwing your weight around, being a bully and being extravagantly proud.’ This statement is ideal because of its consistency with biblical injunctions. However, the Minister misses the point: humility to whom? Should there be humility to South Africa in the face of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians? Is it an extravagant pride to contest government’s nepotistic policies, Fulanisation agenda, and lack of foreign policy focus? Should there be silence over punishing diplomatic careerists who are qualified to be appointed ambassadors but denied because of politics? In defending the national interest, there is no room for moralism which humility is all about. Besides, no Minister, like the scholars he referred to, has monopoly of knowledge. Protection of core foreign policy interests is not by politics of humility The Minister should therefore, first of all, put an end to his own extravagant pride and diplomatic braggadocio by sharing other people’s ideas and learning about how people have been recalled from posts without any jot of fault: terrible things…

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