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Rethink foreign missions closure, activist urges FG

 The Federal Government has been urged to rethink the plan to close some of its foreign embassies in order to maintain the flow of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).

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Mr Sunny Ofehe, Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Niger Delta Campaign based in The Netherlands, disclosed this in an interview with Newsmen in Abuja on Thursday.

He said that rather than closing these embassies completely. The option of reviewing activities carried out in such embassies in relation to the need for Nigerians and foreign partners.

‘’A country like Nigerian that enjoys this robust global acceptability and respect must not compromise and diminish its international diplomatic posture before the world.

”It is therefore imperative that as a country, we must ensure adequate representation in global affairs and at the same time serve our citizens and promote our core socio-economic values around the world.

‘’I clearly understand the challenges that our economy back home is facing but you must remember that these problems are peculiar with all countries around the world today.

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”In spite of the need to cut spending and prioritise government expenditure, we must set our priorities straight.’’

Ofehe said that the current global economic downturn required the government to take measures to reduce the impact on citizens as well as balancing global obligations.

‘’At a time Nigeria is facing issues such as poverty, serious income inequality, battered economy and poor quality of life for average citizens, it can be quite difficult to justify the allocation of limited government funds to maintaining embassies.

‘’However, Nigeria as a developing country will require foreign direct investments and increased market access for their goods and services to help grow the economy, and embassies play key roles in bringing these into the country.

”I am aware that our embassies usually send a profile of foreign companies willing to invest and do business in Nigeria to the relevant ministries and government agencies after properly vetting the legality and legitimacy of such companies.’’

The 2019 governorship aspirants of Delta under the All Progressive Congress said that the idea of using Information and Communication Technology to replace staff was not tenable yet.

He said that developed countries like America and the Netherlands still maintain a physical presence in spite of the advancement in ICT.

‘’Another advantage of having people on the ground is the extensive people-to-people contact it allows the host country. While communication may be maintained via phone and e-mail, and air travel makes it easy for officials to fly in for crucial meetings, these tools cannot replicate the relationship that can be established through constant personal contact and interaction.

Particularly in countries like China, India and the Middle-East whose cultures put a premium on personal relationships as part of doing business, a lot more is usually achieved over formal and informal meetings compared to constant exchanges of emails or phone calls.’’

There are fears that based on the 2019 budget estimate of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria may be forced to close some of its foreign missions over the bad state of the embassies across the globe, due to poor funding.

Nigeria at present has 110 missions around the world.

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