The Federal Government on Tuesday inaugurated a 13-member Presidential Committee on the review of number and strategy for resourcing Nigerian foreign missions worldwide.
Inaugurating the committee, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha explained that the action is to enable President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle the root cause of the critical state of affairs of Nigerian diplomatic missions.
This, he said, is in addition to the missions’ impact on the image of Nigeria in particular and on the international arena in general.
“As we are all aware, our diplomatic missions around the world are currently faced with multifaceted challenges following, among others, the scale of perennial indebtedness they find themselves.
“This poses attendant damage to our nation’s integrity. Consequent upon these, Mr President approved the constitution of this Presidential Committee.
“Let me recall at this point, some cost saving measures taken by previous administrations in this regard including; reducing the number and size of missions, authorising concurrent accreditation to other countries, enhancing and prioritizing budgetary releases to Missions.
He, however, said all the efforts were unfortunately short lived, adding that preliminary findings revealed that the root causes of the challenges were inter-woven and systemic in nature.
“The challenges will have to be addressed holistically in short-, medium- and long-term basis. “
According to him, the timeline for the activities of the committee is three months and its terms of reference are to determine the current number, categories of Nigeria’s diplomatic missions; subject matter desks worldwide
And to categorise their strategic importance and impact worldwide and make appropriate recommendations, identify and categorise the revenue generation capacity of missions.
“Performance in this regard, causes and level of indebtedness, review the understanding and application of critical extant policies, guidelines, circulars, codes, regulations, financial management systems, statutes, across Nigeria’s missions. “
This, he explained was with a view to minimizing bottlenecks, misapplication and curbing infractions, review all previous reports on establishment of missions and measures taken to effectively and economically manage Nigeria’s mission.
He said the committee would identify challenges, make appropriate recommendations on sustainable steps to be taken as well as identifying reasons why previous measures by the previous government were not effective.
Responding on behalf of other members, Amb. Martin Uhomoibhi, Committee’s Chairman thanked the president and the SGF for the honour of such assignment.
Uhomoibhi, however, affirmed the committee’ readiness to do all things within their capacities to fulfil demands and confidence reposed on them by president Buhari.
NAN reports that the federal government in 2019 shut down three embassies abroad and downsized another due to insufficient funds .
Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said this in Abuja while speaking on activities of the ministry in the last three years.
The minister said that the countries where Nigeria closed its missions included Sri Lanka, Czech Republic and Republic of Serbia while Ukraine was drastically downsized.
NAN reports that before the closure, Nigeria had 119 foreign missions.
Onyeama added that the reduction of Nigeria’s foreign missions remained one of the agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
He explained that the closure of the missions was occasioned by inability of the ministry to maintain them due to insufficient funds.