….say embassies now an eyesore
By Levinus Nwabughiogu, Abuja
House of Representatives yesterday urged the federal government to adequately fund the country’s foreign embassies to effectively deliver on their mandate.
In the alternative, the House suggested to the government to allow the missions utilize the internal revenue generated from the issuance of visas and passports amongst other activities, saying it will in no doubt enhance their work environment.
Members of the House made the appeal after considering and adopting a motion titled: “Urgent Need for the House to Save our Nation the Embarrassment Emanating from our Missions Abroad by Evaluating the Status of the Missions and Acting Promptly” sponsored at the plenary by Hon. Yakub Buba representing Hong/Gombi Federal Constituency of Adamawa State.
Moving the motion, Buba who is also the Chairman, House Committee non-Foreign Affairs, said that the Missions had been an eyesore while staff have been illy treated.
He cited two cases of such unhealthy treated to staff and invasion of embassies by hoodlums in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal, urging the government to wake up to its responsibility.
“Also aware that Nigeria has over 100 of such Missions scattered across all parts of the world housing several staff from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior and others, who are engaged in several aspects of diplomatic, economic, security and consular duties and that it is part of the statutory mandate of this House to, among other responsibilities, make annual budgetary provisions for all the aforementioned Missions and to undertake oversight functions on them;
“Observes that, for some time now, the entire world has continued to witness several disturbing videos on both the social and traditional media portraying events in some Nigerian Missions abroad and even the ill-treatment of Nigerians without a word from their Missions.
There was an alleged eviction of staff in DR Congo due to what we were told was the non-payment of recertification fee in respect of the property housing the Nigerian Mission in that country; another was the invasion of our Mission in Dakar, Senegal, by a group of hoodlums; and another was the breaking of car windscreens and vandalizing of other property belonging to a Nigerian Mission by a Nigerian or a group that was said to be aggrieved with services at the Mission;
“Further observes that, many of the Missions abroad operate from dilapidated buildings and rented properties with long unpaid rents, unpaid utility bills, poor and moribund communication infrastructure, dingy furniture, no utility cars and sometimes with no cars for the Ambassador/High Commissioner to even fly the official flag of our country in their places of assignment, and worried about the above in the face of the fact that so many funds are generated as revenue through Visa and Passport Issuance, but none of these goes into the coffers of any of the Missions.
“Concerned that, the zero-budgetary allocation for Capital Expenditure for over 100 Missions abroad in the last few years may have taken quite a toll on their performance, especially in relation to our Economic and Citizens Diplomacy, which are the very planks of the present Administration’s foreign policy agenda.
“That this negligence and abandonment of our Missions abroad have the capacity to scuttle the good and noble intentions of our dear President in his laudable efforts to revamp the poor perception that our nation’s image had hitherto suffered in the global community over the past years before he took over the reins of governance;
“Disturbed that, the condition of our Missions abroad has become a sad caricature of what they should be and a laughing stock in the eyes of a world that prides us as the Giant of Africa; and that, in the midst of their challenges, these Missions can neither attract any Foreign Direct Investment into our nation nor possess what it takes to address the yearning of the nation’s citizens abroad”.
Adopting the motion, the House called on the government to encourage the strict implementation of the Smart Mission Concept in all of its Missions abroad.