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HE Amb (Gen) Godwin George Umo OON


         On my arrival at the office, I asked if the Embassy had a Website. The answer was affirmative; but that it had not been updated for over 2 years. The  lacuna was sequel to there not being an Ambassador for the said period. His Excellency Ambassador (Dr) Francis Okeke, my predecessor, had left the Embassy in August 2015 and I resumed in October 2017. It is in the course of updating the Website that this Foreword is written.
          The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the Holy See (ENHS) had operated from Spain since 1976, prior to becoming resident at the Vatican on 24 August 2012. Its proximity to St. Peter’s Basilica, and thus to the Roman Curia, makes for administrative convenience. Besides the convenience the proximity provides for the conduct of day-to-day administration, the ENHS serves as a link, for the over 30 million Nigerian Catholics, with the over 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide, and other Nigerians, for socio-political intercourse.

           The "Mission Mandate" of the ENHS is quite unique in that it focuses on some specific areas, rather than a full spectrum of diplomatic concerns, like is obtained in other embassies. This is because the Holy See concerns itself with the following areas, which are equally relevant to Nigeria:

             a.  Human Rights.
             b.  Migration.
             c.  Interreligious Dialogue.
             d.  Democracy.
             e.  Health and Education.
             f.  Pilgrimage.
             g.  Disarmament and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons.
             h.  Climate Change.
It must be remarked, however, that the Holy See is a major stakeholder in the advocacy towards making the world a peaceful place for all.

        The ENHS engages the Holy See on the above-stated concerns but also provides "Visa Support" by assisting our sister Embassy accredited to the Republic of Italy, in collating documents for passport renewals and new electronic passports for Nigerian citizens. All other consular services should, however, be directed to our sister Embassy accredited to the Republic of Italy.

         On the issue of seeking audience with the Holy Father, perhaps, it should be mentioned here that only presidents or heads of states of countries can have private audiences with the Pope. Notwithstanding, the Pope uses the Wednesdays General Audiences to interact with the people and bless them. It is during these occasions that those with previous appointments for Papal handshakes ("Baciamano") can actually have them.

          Nigeria seems to be lighting the diplomatic path with the establishment of its Embassy right inside the Vatican. Consequently, other Anglophone African countries are quickly taking up residency, which has increased the visibility of the African continent on issues of mutual interests to the Vatican. With the stage now set, it is hoped the Holy See and Nigeria would enjoy the desired and deserved symbiotic relationship.
      Finally, let me seize this opportunity to thank  Mr  President,  His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, for his faith in the many mutual benefits derivable from Nigeria’s continued maintenance of diplomatic relations with the Holy See. Considering the population of Nigerians that throng the Vatican for pilgrimage, yearly, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces has demonstrated his commitment to Citizen Diplomacy. Good governance must be human-centric.

        Let me, therefore, at this juncture, welcome you to the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the Holy See’s Website; and, thank you for the unalloyed support and love for Nigeria.

                                                    GODWIN GEORGE UMO OON
                                                    AMBASSADOR OF NIGERIA TO THE HOLY SEE

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