There are strong indications that the medical vacation of President Muhammadu Buhari as a result of his illness is keeping about 10 foreign ambassadors at bay from resuming duties at their respective embassies in the country.
Sunday Punch gathered that the ambassadors-designate affected include those of the Republic of Bangladesh, Egypt, Vietnam, Republic of Benin; Mexico; Greece; Togo and Thailand.
It is understood that that the envoys have been unable to present their letters of credence at the Presidential Villa due to the absence of the President, who has been out of the country for about two months.
It was also gathered that their letters of credence were specifically addressed to Buhari hence the inability of the ambassadors-designate to present them to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
However, a government official told the prominent newspaper that the Acting President is available to take up any assignment on behalf of the President.
“I am not aware of any ambassador not being able to start work. The Acting President is available to take on any assignment on behalf of Mr. President,” he said.
Even with this, other sources said that one of the envoys, the Egyptian Ambassador-designate to Nigeria, Mr. Assem Hanafi, has been unable to present his credential to Buhari since February 2017 when he came into the country.
It was gathered that his Mexican counterpart, Mr. Alejandro Elizondo, has also not been able to present his credential to Buhari several weeks after he arrived in the country.
It was learnt that the ambassadors-designate had not been given any appointment for the presentation of their credentials to the President on account of Buhari’s vacation in London.
The inability of the envoys to present their credentials had made it impossible for them to carry out their responsibilities.
Also speaking on the matter, a senior official in government who pleaded for anonymity said:
“The affected ambassadors-designate have been unable to perform their responsibilities since many of them arrived the country many weeks ago.
“They cannot attend any official programme or speak on behalf of their countries. With their current status, they cannot even use the diplomatic pennant on their official cars because they are not full-fledged ambassadors yet; they are literally stranded.”
But the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said he had directed the envoys to resume.
He, however, did not say when he gave the directive.
“We have informed them, they may resume duty,” the minister said in an SMS last night.
The letter of credence is the instrument by which a head of state exercises his power to appoint ambassadors and ministers to other countries and it is signed by the sending head of state and is usually addressed to the receiving head of state.
The letter is handed over by the diplomatic representative at his first audience with the head of state.