BACKGROUND TO THE NIGERIAN FOREIGN SERVICE
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs started as a small unit in the Office of the Prime Minister in September 1957 responsible for the conduct of Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth Relations. With an initial personnel strength of twelve(12) officers, becoming the first generation of Foreign Service Officers in the country, the Ministry has undergone varying phases of structural changes.
At independence in 1960, the Division within the Office of the Prime Minister was renamed the Ministry of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. On attainment of a Republican Status in 1963, it was re-designated Ministry of External Affairs and in 1989, it became the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
While Nigerian’s foreign policy objectives as enunciated at independence have remained fairly, consistent, successive administrations whether military and civilian, have shifted its emphasis and focus, to suit prevailing circumstances. This had ranged from Africa being the centerpiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy, to economic diplomacy, citizen diplomacy and now back to economic diplomacy with an emphasis on the promotion of trade and foreign investments as potent instruments for job and wealth creation within the context of the Transformation Agenda.
Today, the MInistry has undergone dramatic growth and expansion in terms’ of the number of Missions and personnel from its rather humble beginnings in the 1960s. At the moment, the Ministry has a staff strength of 2,523 personnel comprising both senior and junior cadre officers, serving both at Headquarters and Missions abroad, excluding the staff of the NIIA, and the DTCA.