Nigerian diplomacy is a curious thing.
No sooner does the ambassador here insist that his country wants better relations with the United States than the military dictatorship at home undercuts him by calling a leading American official a liar.
The government in Abuja yesterday accused John Shattuck, assistant secretary of state for human rights, of "misleading the American public on the situation in Nigeria."
Mr. Shattuck visited Nigeria in May and deplored the "reign of terror" there.
At the time, Nigeria was reeling from the murder of the wife of imprisoned politician Moshood Abiola, who is widely believed to have won a 1993 presidential election that was nullied by the military.
Nigeria yesterday criticized Mr. Shattuck for saying that Kudirat Abiola was pulled from her car and shot near a police checkpoint.
"This is a blatant untruth. This statement is not only insensitive but seems intended to detract government from a speedy and comprehensive investigation of the whole matter," the government said.
Meanwhile, reports from Abuja say military dictator Gen. Sani Abacha still refuses to meet with U.S. Ambassador Walter Carrington, who has been seeking an appointment since March.
In Washington, Ambassador Zubair Kazaure told Embassy Row earlier this week that his government is sending a leading businessman, Adamu Hassan, to replace him as envoy here.
"That shows how much we want to improve relations with the United States," he said.
Mr. Kazaure set off speculation about his future during an absence from Washington earlier this spring.
This column reported June 3 that he had returned to Nigeria for reassignment as ambassador to China.
Then a leading Nigerian exile claimed Mr. Kazaure was back in Washington to resume his post because the State Department would not approve a new Nigerian envoy.
"The people who are creating the confusion know better than I why they are doing it," Mr. Kazaure said. "There is no confusion on my part."
"We are anxiously awaiting" the State Department's decision on whether to accept Mr. …