The book Confidence in Diplomacy – Defending Nigeria at Home and Abroad is an account of the author’s nearly 30 years of service in Nigeria’s diplomacy.
It’s a journey that began in 1982 when Alhaji Abdul Rimdap joined the foreign affairs ministry and ended in 2010 when he retired while serving the country as ambassador to Germany. His distinguished international career took him to Ethiopia, Zambia, Pakistan, Belgium, Austria and Germany, among other places around the world.
Rimdap’s career, during which he served as high commissioner/ambassador to three countries, witnessed some of the momentous periods in Nigeria’s modern history. These include the Nigerian intervention in the wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone, the annulment of the 12 June 1993 presidential election to the execution of human rights activist Ken Saro Wiwa in 1995 and the sudden death of then military ruler Sani Abacha in 1998 to the restoration of democracy in the country a year later.
You can imagine how tasked the country’s diplomats, who were in the frontlines, must have been by these events!
The author makes some interesting revelations about important personalities in Nigerian politics, including former First Lady Maryam Abacha, and former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, with whom he had very close contacts during his active service years. He also writes about his observations of the attitude of Ethiopians to other sub-Saharan Africans.
Confidence in Diplomacy offers a rear insight into the workings of Nigeria’s foreign ministry. Shoddy is the apt description of how the country manages its diplomacy. For example, the author and other officials of the foreign ministry were once invited to the signing ceremony of a bilateral agreement with Germany, the contents of which the diplomats were totally unaware.
Rimdap also writes about Nigeria’s care-free attitude to the negotiation of some important international treaties with serious implications for the development of the country.
Moreover, the book reveals incidents during his career that could best be described as funny for not wanting to use stronger words. The author had once checked in for a flight to a new foreign posting only to be recalled just before boarding the plane. Similar incidents happened more than once in his career!
There are also moments of inspiration as the author writes of instances when highly dedicated diplomats went beyond official instructions to patriotically defend the interests of Nigeria.
Rimdap makes justified criticisms of the seeming lack of coordination between the relevant ministries on important issues of foreign policy. And he makes important recommendations.
Ambassador Rimdap should be commended for writing the book which the Nigerian government would find useful in correcting the anomalies pointed out in it.
Alhaji Rimdap was well liked by Nigerians in Austria and Germany where he served as ambassador for his uncommon humility and accessibility. Even after his retirement he continues to maintain an active contact to the Nigerian community in Europe from his London base. For example, he regularly attends the major events of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organization, supporting the body with his wise counsel and experience.
If you think you know how Nigerian diplomats work, please read this book before coming to any conclusions.
Confidence in Diplomacy is written in a straightforward, flowing style which makes it very readable.
Confidence in Diplomacy by Abdul Rimdap
Print Length: 424 pages
Publisher: Mereo Books (30 Oct. 2018)