The faces of noiseless, tactful, cautious and effective diplomacy that paid dividends


The successful release of Sierra Leone’s Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria, Major General Alfred Nelson Williams by the unknown persons who had kidnapped him a week ago,  is another victory for President Ernest Bai Koroma and the All People’s Congress ( APC ) Government —This time in the diplomatic arena. It is also a victory for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, given the ramifications if the negotiations had failed and the diplomat had been executed.



Misguided Sierra Leoneans  who may have wrongly been socialized to believe  that  in noisy operations, showboating and grandstanding reside the power to demonstrate steel and commitment,  had started attacking the President that they were not hearing anything and that nothing was being done to seek the release of the kidnapped General. They probably expected  to hear rhetoric that sparked with fire and brimstone and a cacophonous and public power play of words and furious exchanges with the Nigerian authorities and probably, the kidnappers. They had also expected daily news releases and profuse mediatalk  , but it must be realized that this can  have prove counter-productive to  diplomacy during difficult negotiations . Those of us involved in managing international relations know  that diplomacy does not always go like that and in an age of terrorism, extremism and brash militancy , tactful, cautious and  “resilient negotiator”  diplomacy is at times  the best option  .

Where precious human lives are involved in a threatening atmosphere juxtaposed with the forces  of sadism , reckless bestiality , impunity and disregard for human lives on the other side, negotiators have to tread with caution when seeking the release of abducted prisoners,  to avoid inflaming passions and hardening the resolve of kidnappers and terrorists. President Koroma and his government were fully aware of this  and with an abundance of caution  opted for  quiet , behind-the-scene diplomacy and “collaborative efforts ” with the Federal Government of Nigeria, as the Government statement on the release of General Nelson Williams stated. Both nations, working closely together and treading cautiously , noiselessly and tactfully outside the glare of the media secured the  successful release of the diplomat.

Terrorists, aided by sophisticated weapons , superfluous recruits and volunteers , the ease of covert intelligence and the ability to strike swiftly and with more deadly precision anywhere need to be countered not always with force but,  in many cases , cautious diplomacy.

President Ernest Koroma is a good diplomat and negotiator and has proved his mettle in international negotiations during the Ivorian crisis involving former President Laurent Gbagbo and now the UN Security Council Reform .He moves quietly and confidently and focuses  more on results than showboating and media publicity.

Sierra Leoneans should learn to give their President and government chance to do their work. We try to get in the way a lot,  with unlearned declarations and statements,  baseless opinions steeped in ignorance  and mischief and arrogant swordsmanship. Because of this social media that has become a blessing and a curse, everybody has become a social, political, economic and religious analyst , promoter and propagator,  even waifs, charlatans and semi-literates . Everybody has become a Mr. Know-All and Ms . Know-All. Yet, it must not be forgotten by these social media zealots and agitators that governance is an art as is diplomacy .  They are arts learned in the smouldering  furnace of experience or schools.

Successful diplomacy entails the ability to communicate effectively with the adversary and influencing his thought patterns and changing his  diabolical plan . It is not tough-talking and  brawn, all the time, though they do have a part , depending on the situation. The role of a good diplomat is to discern when each course of action is  required to diffuse a situation. Sierra Leone and Nigeria chose quiet and cautious negotiations and it paid swift dividends.

We salute the Presidents  of both Sierra Leone and Nigeria –Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and Retired General Muhammadu Buhari respectively –for pulling off this dramatic and monumental victory and not only saving the life of the General, but  putting to rest all the anxieties and recriminations.

We thank God and give him all the glory.

We also thank God for Retired General Alfred Nelson Williams for being returned  to us safe and sound.

This is a victory for the Grace of God, as well as  good governance and efficient diplomacy.




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