Deplorable state of foreign missions gets Nigerian lawmakers' attention

The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday resolved to investigate allegations of poor funding and deplorable state of Nigerian missions abroad, Owojela’s Blog reports.

It said that it would constitute an ad hoc committee to interface with relevant stakeholders to ascertain the right situation.
The resolution followed a motion by Sen. Tijjani Kaura (Zamfara-APC) entitled “The Urgent Need for the Federal Government to Fund our Foreign Missions.”
Leading debate on the motion, Kaura said that Nigerian diplomatic missions were facing challenges, including difficulty in paying officers’ allowances and salaries and rent for residences.
He added that they faced challenges in visiting Nigerians in jail and other consular services.
The lawmaker said that there were threats by host countries to revoke building permits of some properties belonging to Nigerian missions.
According to him, this is due to their poor structural conditions, which constitutes hazard to the communities where such buildings are situated.
He said that the structures risked revocation due to lack of routine maintenance to bring them in line with building codes of host countries.
”The budget envelope for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is grossly inadequate to meet its expenditure requirements even at the headquarters.
”The ministry’s approved 2017 budget would hardly provide the needed impetus required of the ministry towards achieving Nigeria’s foreign policy goal and objectives in pursuance of our national interest.
”In view of these multiple problems and financial woes, the collective and corporate image of Nigeria has suffered drastically, resulting in the loss of prestige and influence in the comity of nations.
”Some of these problems arise due to over-staffing in the foreign missions, which is flagrant refusal to comply with provisions of presidential ceiling of staff strength of individual missions based on the ministry’s grading,” he said.
All the lawmakers, who contributed supported the motion and said that it was timely.
They said that it had become necessary for the Federal Government to consider reducing the number of missions for easy funding.

In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, asked the lawmakers to vote on this motion, and it was overwhelmingly supported in a voice vote.