How To Become A Diplomat In Nigeria

As one of the largest economies in Africa, Nigeria has a robust foreign diplomatic corps. Becoming a diplomat for the Nigerian foreign service provides exciting career opportunities to represent the nation abroad and work on global issues. This article outlines the steps, requirements, and process of How To Become A Diplomat In Nigeria.

Understanding the Role of a Diplomat

A diplomat represents the interests and advances the policies of their home country while posted abroad. Nigerian diplomats work to strengthen bilateral relations, resolve conflicts, facilitate trade and investment, and provide assistance to Nigerian citizens in their host nation. They engage in negotiations, and cultural diplomacy initiatives, and act as the official liaison and information channel between Nigeria and other governments.

How To Become A Diplomat In Nigeria

Educational Qualifications

To be eligible for the Foreign Service entrance exam in Nigeria, candidates must have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field like political science, international relations, law, economics, or history from an accredited university. Candidates with postgraduate degrees have better chances of selection.

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While any undergraduate degree suffices, certain majors are preferred as they provide the appropriate foundation of knowledge. Proficiency in English is mandatory while competence in other languages like French and Arabic proves advantageous.

Applying for the Foreign Service Entrance Exam

The first step is to visit the website of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and check the employment section for Foreign Service Officer recruitment notifications. Application forms need to be filled and submitted along with required documents before the given deadline.

The application fee of 5000 naira must also be paid online or at designated banks. Only shortlisted candidates will receive call letters informing the exam date, time, and test center details via email or post.

What to Expect in the Foreign Service Exam

The highly competitive entrance exam evaluates a candidate’s suitability for a diplomatic career. It covers four sections – English Proficiency, General Paper, Situational Judgment, and Oral Interview.

The English and General Paper sections comprise objective and subjective questions testing communication skills, Nigerian foreign policy knowledge, general awareness, and aptitude. Situational tests judge problem-solving through real-life scenarios. The oral interview assesses interpersonal skills.

Training at the Nigerian Foreign Service Academy

Shortlisted candidates undergo a six-month foundation training program at the Nigerian Foreign Service Academy in Abuja or Lagos. Practical and theoretical modules impart essential skills through lectures, simulations, and field visits.

Topics covered include public administration, protocol, multilateral diplomacy, consular duties, negotiations, treaty drafting, public speaking, computer applications, and foreign languages. Trainees are addressed as Student Officers and strictly adhere to discipline and etiquette.

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Career Path and Progression

After probation, freshly minted diplomats can be deployed to Nigerian missions abroad or the Ministry headquarters in diverse capacities. They gradually progress through positions like Third Secretary, Second Secretary, First Secretary, Counselor, and Minister Counselor.

Outstanding performers are selected for Deputy Head of Mission, Head of Mission, and Ambassadorial roles. The Nigerian foreign service offers a dynamic global career with the potential to lead diplomatic delegations and represent the nation at international fora.

Skills Required to Become a Diplomat

Apart from academic qualifications, aspiring diplomats must demonstrate vital soft skills through the selection process:

  • Strong communication and public speaking
  • Negotiation and conflict resolution
  • Inter-cultural sensitivity and adaptability
  • Analytical and problem-solving orientation
  • Discretion and ability to maintain confidentiality
  • Leadership and team-building potential
  • Stress management and crisis response

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the salary of a diplomat in Nigeria?

The salaries range from ₦150,000 to over ₦800,000 per month depending on rank and years of experience. Perquisites include housing, transport, medical benefits, educational allowances, and annual leave.

How long does it take to become a diplomat in Nigeria?

The minimum time is around 5 years which includes completing a Bachelor’s degree, clearing the Foreign Service exam on the first attempt, 6 months of training, and a probation period before posting abroad.

Can non-Nigerians become diplomats for Nigeria?

No, only Nigerian citizens are eligible for diplomatic careers with the Nigerian foreign service. Dual citizenship holders must renounce other nationalities.

What languages are useful for Nigerian diplomats?

Besides English, competence in French, Portuguese, Arabic, and indigenous Nigerian languages boosts career prospects. Spoken and written proficiency is tested.

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What is the retirement age for diplomats?

The statutory retirement age for foreign service officers in Nigeria is 60 years.


Representing Nigeria on the global stage is an honorable and stimulating career choice. With solid academic preparation, dedication to ongoing learning, and meeting all eligibility criteria, diplomat aspirants stand an excellent chance of joining the prestigious foreign ministry. Patience, communication skills, and cultural sensitivity will help you navigate the selection process and thrive in an international posting.


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