By Adeola Badru
The Chairperson of the House of Representatives Committee Diaspora, Mrs Tolulope Akande Sadipe K. has said that Nigeria’s foreign mission and embassy must strive to meet the needs of Nigerians abroad and improve their services to them.
She specifically said that the foreign affairs policy reform must address the issues of improved quality representation as the embassy is the first point of contact between Nigerians abroad and their government, adding that the impression being observed by Nigerians in the Diaspora is a poor representation of their government.
Akande-Sadipe, who was speaking in Abuja on Monday at the opening of a three-day conference on the Review of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy, noted that Nigeria’s foreign policy should address the issues with regards to services rendered to Nigeria Diaspora citizens at the Foreign Mission and Embassies.
In a statement made available to Vanguard by her media aide, Olamilekan Olusada, the lawmaker said: “My focus would be our Foreign Missions and Embassies and the Nigerian diaspora. can we confidently say that we are meeting the needs of Nigerians who need our services abroad?”
Speaking to the audience, she urged them to honour the country by an act of exemplary service.
She said: “To be selected to represent Nigeria abroad is a privilege. We must not relent as the security and welfare of all Nigerians home and abroad should be a reality. Representatives need to shake off the demigod mindset and have a service mindset. Exemplary service is what we must strive for and that’s what you must give back.”
The lawmaker further highlighted some issues that needed reform: “Some of the reform issues include the following. Immigration, Passport Issuance is a nightmare, I have been there, I have experienced it. NIMC, National Identity Registration is a nightmare, Other Emergency Services & Legal Representation.”
While informing the session of the case of Sulaimon who is on death row in Saudi Arabia, she, however, noted that if he had legal representation or support from the embassy the outcome of the case might have been different.
“This Innocent 17-year-old boy was made to sign a confession he did not write as it was written in Arabic.”
She also stated the situation of human trafficking and the response of Nigeria missions and embassies to the plight of Nigerian citizens who often get caught in those situations because of unscrupulous traffickers.
In her closing remarks, she said: “Why are we here, we are here to proffer solution for an ailment that has long eaten into service delivery at our Missions and Embassies, not to sweep the numerous realities under the carpet but to face the issues squarely, proffer solutions and solve the issues, but there must be a commitment from all Stakeholders.”
“Granting the Diaspora more respect by the missions of their beloved country will further enhance their contribution to the socio-political development and economic growth of the country. Nigerian diasporas account for yearly remittances of over 26 billion dollars either as investments or direct capital inflow into Nigeria,” She added.