Diplomacy In ‘New Normal’: Lolo, Otobo, Agbugba, Igbuzor, Olisa Offer Best Global Practices

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From L-R: former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and one-time Nigerian Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union, Ambassador Bulus Lolo; a retired Senior Director and acting Assistant Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, (UN) Ambassador E.E. Otobo; Chief of Staff to the Deputy President of the Senate and founding Executive Director of the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development, Dr Otive Igbuzor; Immediate past Nigerian Ambassador to South Sudan and presently, Director (Minister’s Office, MFA, Abuja), Ambassador Obinna Agbugba; former Nigerian Ambassador to Jamaica and currently, the Director of Planning, Research and Statistics, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja, Ambassador (Mrs) Janet Olisa; and the Ambassador of Nigeria to Thailand and Head of Mission, His Excellency Oma Djebah. They all spoke virtually at the maiden training and retreat programme -- the first of its kind to be organised for Home-Based Officers of the Embassy of Nigeria in Bangkok, Thailand recently.
  • Applaud Nigerian Embassy, Bangkok for Exemplary Training Program

The new Ambassador of Nigeria to Thailand and Head of Mission in the host country, H.E Ambassador Oma Djebah has brought together eggheads in international diplomacy and some of Nigeria’s brightest minds in management strategy and public policy to bring up to speed, the Home-based Officers of his Mission on the conduct of diplomacy in the digital era at the first virtual training and retreat exercise held by the Mission.

The training explored various ways of how to effectively engage with diverse stakeholders, manage emergencies while at the same time ensuring efficient service delivery in the new normal.

Ambassador Djebah in his opening remarks at the 5-day virtual training which ended with huge success, explained that the initiative was designed as part of strategic measures aimed at helping the Embassy to achieve its set objectives and mandate as outlined in its Station Charter, by sharpening existing skills of the Mission’s Officers and Staff in line with current global diplomatic practices and dynamics.

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The maiden training and retreat programme which is the first of its kind for Home-Based Officers of the Embassy expectedly attracted the participation of distinguished and renowned diplomats, illustrious and eminent experts in stakeholders’ engagement and management, as well as pre-eminent project and data management experts as lead speakers. The lead speakers include a former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and one-time Nigerian Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union, Ambassador Bulus Lolo; a retired Senior Director and acting Assistant Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, (UN) Ambassador E.E. Otobo; former Nigerian Ambassador to Jamaica and currently, the Director of Planning, Research and Statistics, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja, Ambassador (Mrs) Janet Olisa; immediate past Nigerian Ambassador to South Sudan and presently, Director (Minister’s Office, MFA, Abuja), Ambassador Obinna Agbugba; Chief of Staff to the Deputy President of the Senate and founding Executive Director of the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development, Dr Otive Igbuzor and Mr Gideon Olaleye, a project management expert and GIS Solutions specialist based in North America.

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The first lecture titled: Diplomacy in the Age of Digital Media and the Pandemic, which was delivered by Ambassador Bulus Lolo drew applause and approbation from participants. Ambassador Lolo, also a former Nigerian Ambassador to Ethiopia, the AU with concurrent accreditation to Djibouti appreciated the ingenuity and logic behind the maiden training programme, which he described as very brilliant move, and stressed that the Embassy has made history as the first Nigerian Mission to organize such an event, especially in the COVID-19 pandemic era when digital application has increasingly became very relevant to diplomacy.

Delivering the second lecture on: “Service Delivery: Rendering Services to Nigerians,” Ambassador (Mrs.) Janet O. Olisa, who is the immediate past Nigerian Ambassador to Jamaica focused on the protocols, stratagem and procedural courtesies that are needed to help address the needs of Nigerians in various host countries. According to her, through effective communication, civility and cordial relationships, one could work out a flexible internal mechanism for dealing with emerging issues at the very beginning rather than leaving them to balloon out of control.

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The third lecture termed: “Managing Diplomatic Communications in the Digital Era,” delivered by Ambassador E. E. Otobo, a retired Senior Director and Acting Assistant Under Secretary-General, at the UN, New York, attracted accolades and comments from participants.

Ambassador Otobo identified significant changes in diplomatic communication with advancement in information and communication technology (ICT) whereby major government policy statements could be communicated via various safe and secured digital media platforms. He said this has correspondingly brought significant changes to the practice of traditional diplomatic correspondence and messaging in the digital era. The retired UN diplomat, however, warned participants to be mindful of the type of information to share online because it is not in the national interest of any Mission or Nation to share information without thoroughly evaluating its implications and content. He cautioned participants about the activities of hackers in relation to the type of information to be shared in order to avoid compromising sensitive information.

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The fourth lecture which focused on “Dealing with Current and Evolving Emergencies Especially During the Global Pandemic” was delivered by Ambassador Obinna Agbugba, Director, Office of the Honourable Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Obinna proffered that the global pandemic has brought many concerns and protocols in the conduct of normal diplomacy and advised participants on the need to keep pace with evolving global trends while constantly taking cognisance of the need to remain safe and avoid health complications and emergencies. He commended the Embassy of Nigeria, Bangkok for the training initiative noting that it is a novel programme which should serve as a template for others.

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Dr. Otive Igbuzor, Chief of Staff to the Deputy President of the Senate and founding Executive Director of the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development, while taking the fifth lecture entitled: “Stakeholders Management/Engagement and Service Delivery” highlighted the importance of stakeholders management in the operations of every Embassy or Mission. According to Dr. Igbuzor, who identified about 10 principles maintained that “stakeholders management is the process for maintaining relationships with people who have the most impact on your work.” Dr. Igbuzor postulated that because of the cruciality of stakeholders management in the life of an Embassy or Mission, it is important to always identify, segregate and document various stakeholders with a view to analyzing their influence, manage their expectations, take appropriate action to address their concerns, as well as periodically review their needs.

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On his own part, Mr. Gideon Olaleye, a project management consultant and GIS Solutions specialist at Geocrest International Inc, while delivering the last lecture focused on the importance of project management and service delivery in a diplomatic setting. According to Mr Olaleye, to achieve the overall aims and goals of an organization, “there must be a framework that sets the principles, standards and provide the methodologies that will govern the design, development, deployment and operations of such service delivery.”

Lauding the initiative by Ambassador Djebah, the Home Based Officers described the training exercise as the very first of its kind in the life of the Mission, adding that the five day-event was educative, engaging and very fruitful. The participants were also optimistic the training would help the Embassy of Nigeria in Thailand deliver on its set goals under the new Head of Mission to the Southeast Asian country.

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