FROM OGHOGHO OBAYUWANA, ABUJA
The complexion of the designation of Nigeria's ambassadors being posted out now has started to emerge.
The Guardian has confirmed by the weekend that Benin crown prince, Eheneden Erediauwa is being sent to Italy. He had served as Nigeria's plenipotentiary to Sweden and Angola.
Diplomatic sources confirmed that the Prince is now awaiting his agreement from Rome. The request for Agreement was sent almost three weeks ago.
The need to resurrect a positive image for Nigeria, historical antecedents as well as strengthening the war against human trafficking are said to be the factors that determined which of the ambassadors-designates is to be sent to Italy.
Edo State is reputed to have the highest number of Nigerians who have been trafficked to Italy within the last two decades.
A high-level foreign ministry source, who responded to The Guardian's enquiry, said, " Government has done its own home work. The ancient Benin kingdom used to exchange ambassadors with Portugal in the 16th and 17th centuries and had contacts with the Dutch before the British people came. We needed someone who can completely fulfill the mandate in Italy. It is citizens' diplomacy at work..."
Last week, the Italian government, through its embassy in Abuja, signed an agreement with Nigeria on "Preventing and combating trafficking of minors and young women from Nigeria to Italy (Phase 2)"
The Nigerian community in Italy has doubled in the last five years (11,378 in 1998, 19,505 in 2002, up to 24,986 in 2003)