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.

The Miniistry functions are as follows:

  • Conducting Nigeria's foreign policy and international relations
  • Establishing and administering of Nigeria's Diplomatic Missions abroad
  • Representing Nigeria in fign countries through the appintment of principal representatives by the President
  • Representing Nigeria at International Organizations, such as the United Nations and its specialized agencies, the African Union, the ECOWAS, the Commonwealth.
  • Attending tnsular matters, including the protection of Nigerians and their interests abroad
  • Repatriating destitute Nigerians
  • Coordinating of arrangements for International Conferences in Nigeria
  • Issuing passports, Travel Certificates and Seaman Books
  • Oversight respnsibility of Pilgrim arrangements including welfare of Nigerian pilgrims abroad, incollabration with both the Muslim and Christian Pilgrims Commission
  • State Protocol and Ceremonies, Accreditation Foreign Dignitaries, Accreditation of Nigerian Envoys and Consular Representatives, Official visits abroad by Nigerian dignitaries
  • Processing of privileges for multilateral and international Organizations accredited to Nigeria
  • Relations with the' Diplomatic and Consular Missions in Nigeria
  • Promoting trade and investment between Nigeria and other countries, with emphasis on the expansion of the non-oil export sector and attraction and retention of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), skills and technology
  • Administering overseas scholarship awards for Nigerian students
  • Administering overseas scholarship awards for Nigerian students
  • Mobilizing Nigeria's human resources in the Diaspora for national development
  • Providing leadership in Africa and contributing to the protection of the interests of the Black race in the world
  • Facilitating the acquisition and use of technology necessary for the rapid economic development of Nigeria