The Nigerian Embassy in Berlin is a key foreign mission in Germany; it ranks among major international-relations institutions and in the frontiers of growth agenda in Europe. Its Ambassador, a committed internationalist, and reformist, who recently facilitated the visit of the German Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel’s to Nigeria, is taking bolder and beneficial steps for the Chancery and Country both now and in the years ahead. His Excellency, Yussuf M. Tuggar, talks to Acclaim Nigeria magazine Chief, Olumide Ogunlade in Berlin, on his goals, ongoing accomplishments and prospective pursuits.
“My administration has come to achieve set goals, ensure effectiveness and pursue transformations at all levels of activities here. The positive change we all are clamoring for and to which Mr. President is committed to achieving and at the forefront should begin with us, I mean Nigerians first”…Ambassador Tuggar
Enjoy the interview
Your Excellency, since your assumption as the Ambassador of Nigeria in Germany, How has the journey been, viz- your goals, accomplishments, challenges, pursuits, among others?
Well, it’s been a splendid journey thus far, and just like the larger administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, we are here to align and foster the Transformation Agenda of his government and to further promote the National Economic Growth and Recovery Plan. In line with this, my administration focus is to reform and transform, to put round pegs in rounds holes and square pegs in square holes, and to generally straighten up thing.
In furtherance, therefore, the first thing I set out to do at my assumption of office was to submit a draft proposal of
A 90 Day Plan (which I came with), and I tabled it before my team here, the officers I met on ground for their inputs, inclusions, and refinements, and after it was looked into and extensively deliberated upon and in a democratic manner too, because as a politician I believed in democracy, it was adopted and we set to work immediately.
So our first line of action was to create a website, a globally cyber-space platform to give a face to the embassy. This is to set an interactive forum where Nigerians in Germany and beyond can effectively and comprehensively interact with the embassy, get first-hand information concerning the activities of the embassy and how best to engage and take advantage of its services.
I also traveled extensively throughout the large expanse of Germany, all through its 16 states to understand the topography, morphology, culture, and customs of the people. Nigerians reside in all of these states; so it’s imperative to be abreast of their geographical locations, wellbeing, and interactions among them and in their various hosts.
I toured all these locations by roads, so you see we have come here for serious work. Generally speaking, we are constantly working towards improvements, quality, and excellence.
Sir, concerning your ongoing reformations, it was learned that some embassy staff was relieved of their jobs, and there are have been conflicting stories around; some are saying that having worked for the embassy for a long time you came and deliberately sacked them for some personal reasons. Could you please shed more light on this?
(Smiling). You know there is what we call the value of Change and the value of Inertia, and they all compete with each other; and for you to make progress, the value of Change must overcome the value of inertia, (which of course represents business as usual). So in this embassy, we have to always move forward and positive change is good for moving forward.
You are aware that the embassy had not had a substantive Ambassador for some years before my arrival, and there were many pending decisions that the office had to take, and some of them began to find expressions when I came on board; therefore, in this case, mentioned, I won’t take the credit. Designing that architecture was done by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that was well before I came in.
The policy design was that we will not engage any of our embassy staff across the world for more than 2 years. In other words at every 2 years, we will disengage them and those who want to further continue with their jobs will have to re-apply; their re-engagement will, therefore, depend on assessment, evaluation, performance, and productive inputs.
It’s a signed contract of consent at the onset of their appointments, so it’s a long time policy. And, in this embassy at the time, I came in, we had 27 staff and we are only allowed to have 21, so automatically 6 people had to go. Those who didn’t re-apply to come back had their personal reasons for doing so, and obviously, some of them didn’t have good records for re-absorption considerations, so they opted out, and these are the same people peddling negative rumors about our actions here. You have interacted with some of the embassy staff, please show me anyone from my state (Bauchi- State) or even from my region (the North-Eastern Geo-Political Region), yet I am accused of nepotism, biases and the likes.
Let me also add that, we are not compelled to employ Nigerians only as local staff; we can engage staff from any nationalities as long as they are interested to work and know their jobs and the rules and conducts guiding them.
Again, what you must know concerning this engagement was that a committee had already been set up to look into this policy issue and recommendations were made, it was just waiting for my approval as the Ambassador, and all I had to do was to append my signature. We are here to do our jobs and if I cannot do that, then I have no business being here.
We don’t just take unilateral decisions; whatever we do here is in full knowledge and blessing of the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs.
So within our constituted capacity, knowledge and funding, we are regularly ensuring absolute welfare and productive engagements of Nigerians in Germany. The embassy attends and well represented in events and programmes of the Nigerian Community in Germany towards personal and homeland development, and sustaining the Nigeria- Germany Bilateral Ties.
Your Excellency, how effective is the embassy consular services, especially on passport issuances?
Very effective! Again, I must say that in ensuring these you need the required will and Courage. We do not have to re-invent the wheel to make our services effective, there are set down rules and procedures on the ground here, all we do is to regularly improve on our work mechanism and strategies, and we are always on top of our game towards serving Nigerians better.
Concerning our Consular Services, one of the things my administrative embarked on was to initiate and, continually improve on our online services, we have hugely invested in this area, and we are now broadly commended in this line of activity globally. Now to have dealings with the embassy in consular services, you have to book and secure an appointment online, as this is the norm worldwide.
In recognized embassies and High Commissions globally, (and even in foreign missions in Nigeria), for you to have formal engagements and appointments on consular issues, you have to first secure an appointment through their various online portals. Likewise here, if we must move forward and be recognized among embassies that know their onus, we can’t do things differently. So we are in tune with the best global practices, deploying required resources and ensuring that things work as they should.
Our online system is very active and functional; Nigerians in Germany and those who come from other parts of Europe to take advantage of our services must also learn to comply accordingly. The era of disorderliness and lack of respect for existing rules and regulations is gone. My administration has come to effect order, sanity, and efficiency at all levels of activity here. The positive change we have all clamored for, and to which Mr. President is at the frontier, should begin and be embraced by all of us, Nigerians First.
On passport issuances, this one of the embassies in Europe were passports are processed and collected in record time, as fast as one day if all necessary requirements and compliance are obeyed. Our equipment is in good shape and our trained personnel know what to do concerning their job responsibilities as at when demanded.
In this embassy, I am sure you must have asked around, especially with Nigerians who have come for this purposes, there are NO sharp practices (bribery, favoritism, breaking existing protocol or any form of corruption), concerning passports issuance, it is strictly on availability and on a first come first served basis. Once you complete your registration and payment online, and they are confirmed accordingly, you will be contacted for your registration procedures and issuance. However, if there will be any consideration at all, it will be done on its merit of the application and this will be jointly looked into and approved by me and my team.
How are you strengthening the Nigerian-Germany ties here?
I am doing well in this area as this is one of my responsibilities here; Nigeria and Germany have a historical and rich relationship based on shared values, friendship, and mutually rewarding outcomes. I want you to know that there is an existing framework between these countries, and, my leadership is improving on them in terms of implementation, activation, and improvements. The two countries have a bi-national agreement which is very active and productive; the German-Nigeria Energy Partnership is also in force and several other beneficial alliances are ongoing between the two great nations.
Recently, I attended the Afrika Verein, i.e. The Africa-German Business Association is a major event, and Nigeria was well represented and actively participated. In addition, we have active involvements and robust interactions in events that continually promote our ties across the country, and my headship will continue to build on these mutual international relationships.
How cordial is your interactions with the Nigerian community in Germany?
As the Ambassador representing Nigeria here, I operate an open door policy and you can attest to this since our interactions. I have been very cordial with the Nigerian Community in Germany. I also have warm relationships with members of NIDO and its leadership. These are sets of respected professions who are legitimately and daily contributing to the socio-economic and overall developments in this land.
I am also in touch with various Nigerian students’ bodies in Germany, and also in constant contacts with Nigerian visitors coming to Germany for profitable purposes. Like I earlier told you, I have extensively traveled the length and breadth of this country, to expose me alongside with the various locations of Nigerians in Germany.
How would you rate the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari, especially in view of diverse comments for and against his governance styles and strategies? Do you support his second-term bid?
As a politician, an APC key member, a former member of the House of Representative from Bauchi, and one who is at the vanguard of political development and sustainability in Nigeria, I wholly support Mr. President’s governance style and rate his performance in high scores.
You know with the backdrop of rots inherited and the volume of efforts needed for reparation works, you need a man of wits, courage and focus to address and surmount these challenges and Nigerians have found that in the in the person of President Buhari. It is better to be slow and steady and achieve your goals and to hurriedly mangled things up.
Now you can see for yourself the performance and accomplishments achieved by his administration so far.
His drive for good-governance, dogged fight against corruption, corrupt practices and perpetrators, commitments for infrastructural developments across the country, respect for rule of law, respect for the country in global matters, economic recovery and growth after a recession period, value for youth, women and people with disability progress, political stability and maturity and a hosts of other achievements made so far.
He is still willing to do more and he has offered himself to further serve the people, Nigerians near and far given the opportunity. So I support his re-election and second term bid, and I am confident his leadership will be a tremendous blessing to this great nation now and thereafter.
Your Excellency, what is your reaction concerning the migration issues experienced in Europe, in relation to illegal Nigerian Immigrants, and what’s your advice to travelers from Nigeria (especially the youths)?
Well you know the trend of global migration issues is worrisome, especially the risks associated in these perilous journeys, so no responsible person or leadership will lend credence or support illegal migration activity anywhere in the world. But to be fair to Nigeria, the belief that most Africans traveling to Europe are majorly Nigerians are unfair for the country. Just because we are the most populous black nation of the world doesn’t imply we are the most in terms of illegal movements between countries. But as a big brother nation, Nigeria will continue to deal with issues like this in a most matured and tolerant manners in line with best global practices.
This is why I am using this medium to further appeal to Nigerians to only travel when it is needful and necessary, and only through legitimate ways. No country is immune to challenges; every country has its own peculiar troubles it is dealing with. Nigeria has a lot of opportunities for its citizenry, especially the youths. President Buhari and his team are working round the clock to ensure that the country is livable, peaceful and prosperous. There are massive and engaging development works going on in different sectors of the economy, Nigerians should continue to seize these opportunities to be involved and contribute their own quotas to ongoing advancements across the nation. Illegal migration across the water, forests, Sahara and the likes only lead to devastations and losses in all forms of expressions, and we must all join hands as responsible global citizens to continue to educate on the dangers and perils of illegal migration and advance efforts to prevent and mitigate it.
Sir, lastly how do you unwind amidst your busy your schedules?
Oh, (laugh) in my leisure, I engaged my mind in reading and my body in physical exercises. I ride bicycles for kilometers across the state and cities and this keeps me fit and energetic all the time.
Your Excellency, it’s a pleasure having us around, I am grateful for the invitation, warmness and this relaxed atmosphere.
Thank you for your time too Editor-in-Chief, and let me also commend the good works of Acclaim Nigeria. With this kind of exemplary initiatives, Nigeria still has a brighter future ahead. Thank you!
Acclaim Nigeria magazine profoundly uses this opportunity to appreciate Mr. Mohammed Anka, the Mission Minister for Information and Culture for facilitating the interview conducted in a relaxed and refreshing ambiance.