Prior to the demise of Sylvanus Nsofor, Nigeria’s former ambassador to the United States, on December 10, a gap had been created in terms of diplomatic relations between both countries. In July, President Muhammadu Buhari dropped the reappointment of the 85-year-old who was appointed in 2017, thereby raising concerns on who would become the next US ambassador.
On Tuesday, Tolu Ogunlesi, special assistant on digital/new media to Buhari, announced the president’s approval for the appointment of Uzoma Emenike as the country’s ambassador-designate to the US.
The posting comes six months after senate’s confirmation of the list of ambassadors-designate submitted by the president. With the development, the diplomat has emerged as the first female ambassador to US, raising the bar and setting a new standard.
Emenike, who currently serves as Nigeria’s ambassador to Ireland with concurrent accreditation to Iceland, came into limelight in 2016 when Buhari sent her name, alongside 45 others, to the senate for confirmation as non-career ambassadors.
She would later be confirmed by the senate after which she arrived at Dublin, capital of Ireland, on August 30, 2017, to assume duty.
However, with her new role, the Abia indigene will be replaced by Obiezu Chinyerem at the embassy in Dublin.
FIRST FEMALE AMBASSADOR TO USA
Until Emenike’s appointment, the Nigerian embassy in US has been headed by men since its opening on October 1, 1960, according to office of the chief protocol, US Department of State.
Jibril Aminu, George Obiozor, Oluwole Rotimi, Adebowale Adefuye, and Nsofor, have served as Nigerian ambassadors to the US since the commencement of the fourth republic in 1999 till the end of 2020.
Before the return of democracy in 1999, a total of 14 other male Nigerian ambassadors were appointed to the US including Hassan Adamu, Zubair Mahmud Kazaure, and Hamzat Ahmadu. Emenike’s appointment connotes a new era at the Nigerian embassy in the US.
LAWYER, SOCIOLOGIST WITH MULTIPLE DEGREES IN INT’L RELATIONS
Emenike received education both locally and overseas. She is a recipient of two bachelor’s degrees, two master’s degrees, and a doctorate.
The diplomat holds a B.Sc. in Sociology and Anthropology from the University of Maiduguri, and an LL.B. from the University of Reading in the UK.
She also earned a master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and another master’s in International Management from University of Reading.
Emenike capped her academic pursuit with a doctorate in International Relations, also from the University of Reading.
OVER 30 YEARS EXPERIENCE IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS
According to Emenike’s biography on the website of the Nigerian embassy in Ireland, the 55-year-old joined the country’s foreign service over 30 years ago.
“She served in Protocol Department and Africa Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Subsequently, she was posted to the Nigerian Embassy in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire in 1992, where she served for six years,” the biography reads.
“Upon her return to headquarters in Nigeria, she was variously deployed to other departments of the Ministry, during which she represented Nigeria in numerous bilateral and multilateral missions, both at home and abroad.
“In 2002, Dr. Emenike left the Foreign Service for the private sector where, amongst others, she worked as a Management Consultant.”
WRITER, WIFE, AND MOTHER OF FOUR
Aside from her role as a foreign diplomat, Emenike is a writer with a host of published works.
Among her published articles are: “The Africa We Envisage in 50 Years Time” and “Europe Needs Africa”. She is also the author of “Africa: The Centre-Piece of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy”.
Uzoma is married to Ikechi Emenike, Buhari’s ally, and the union is blessed with four children.
Source: The Cable