Ambassadorial Nomination: Ketebu's Candidacy In Perspective
When President Good Luck Jonathan submitted the names of 8 ambassadorial nominees to the Senate for screening and confirmation early this month, the only non-career nominee on that list is Dr. Bolere Ketebu, a nominee from Bayelsa State! Though her name is not new in the nation's socio-political encyclopedia, but, considering the excellence and competence she has displayed in the previous positions she has held in the country and outside Nigeria in different capacities and magnitudes, many analysts and commentators views her ambassadorial nomination as putting a square peg in a square hole, or a commensurate rewards for excellence, competence and dexterity.
Born on October 25th 1954, Dr. Ketebu rose through the ranks and files of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) to becoming its National President! However, after a meritorious service in the nation's civil service where she rose to the position of a director in River State Civil Service in 1989, she veered in to the nation's political system where she was elected as a Federal Lawmaker, representing Yenagoa Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives between 1992 and 1993. While in the House as a lawmaker, she used her legislative prowess and platform to champion pan-Nigerian causes and the cause of the female and under-privileged children in the country. As a woman activist and environmental activist, Dr. Ketebu added her audible voice to matters of national importance and significance. She never stayed idly-by to watch events as there unfolds without her useful and insightful contributions. For example, it was under her leadership as the National President of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) that the seed of what the Nigerian women are enjoying in this dispensation, in terms of political appointments or patronage was sown. Also, as the National Coordinator of the Wetland Environmental Protection Initiative, she did not shy away from confronting our biggest environmental polluters, even at her own personal risk and great cost. Being a former Secretary to the Government of Bayelsa State, Dr. Ketebu reformed the state's civil service system and reshaped it to what it is today. She has traveled far and wide, both within and outside the country. She has also participated in several national and international voluntary organizations. This was why she was elected in to an international organization dubbed, International Council of Women (ICW) from 2003 to 2009. She has also won various awards and honours! As a mother, Dr. Ketebu devote's most of her time, energy and resources to championing causes that uplifts Nigeria's women and children from the shackles of poverty, disease and illiteracy. In fact, excellence and competence have become synonymous with this Amazon and woman of substance!
Nonetheless, in an increasing world of uncertainties like ours, the country needs able and capable envoys that will help in reshaping the destiny of our beloved country, Nigeria. Ambassadors should not only be contented with the understanding of the bilateral relations alone, but, in view of the interconnected nature of our world, they must have strong and in-depth knowledge and understanding of the major problems in the world over. Capabilities and competence are necessary skills for one to be well versed in global affairs. Hence, an ambassador should have a very clear, vivid and intelligible picture and conviction of what Nigeria needs, and also knows how to synthesize with other stakeholders on how to achieve them.
The days when ambassadors awaited instructions and convey messages are over, rather, Nigeria needs ambassadors who will inform the government about the situation in their respective country of residence, about trends in public opinion, reactions to measures considered by their governments etc.
Furthermore, Nigeria needs an ambassador who is open to cultural diversity and is able to understand them perfectly. This was the point President Jonathan emphasized last year when handing down letters of credence to the 93 Nigeria's ambassadors due for posting! He said: “Today, we live in an international environment that is characterized by rapid change, intense competition and driven by knowledge and technology. It is an exciting world in which only the best succeeds. In such an environment, only a dynamic, confident and proactive foreign service can effectively serve Nigeria's interest”. Since, Nigeria have reviewed her foreign policy from “Big brother” to economic diplomacy and reciprocity, we need people like Dr. Bolere Ketebu who has much hindsight, insights and foresights on how to get stuffs done to man one of our foreign embassies! Her competence and experience on service delivery, both in and out of government is what Nigeria's
foreign missions abroad needs at this defining moment.
Finally, looking at the rising consciousness and awareness going on around the globe, we need an envoy that can maximally project Nigeria's image and “soft power” abroad and also use it to attract greater inflows of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in to the country, so as to complement our vision 2020 drives. For emphasis sake, “Soft power” is the use of persuasive approach in international relations which centers more on the application of economic or cultural influence in achieving the country's needs and desires.
Comrade Edwin Ekene Uhara is an activist and a public affairs commentator. He is also the National President of Young Nigerians for Change.