By Joshua Egbodo
House of Representatives has expressed concern over the deplorable state of Nigeria’s foreign missions.
To this end, the House has mandated its Committee on Foreign Affairs to conduct a stakeholders’ public hearing on the matter, and report its findings back within eight weeks.
Chairman of the committee, Nnena Elendu-Ukeje and 21 others in a motion on the matter expressed worries that Nigeria Embassies, High Commissions and Missions, which were vehicles for the implementation of the nation’s foreign policies are faced with funding challenges, which have adversely affected their operations.
Elendu-Ukeje, who moved the motion on behalf of his colleagues lamented that there are “situations where children and wards of the foreign officers are being sent out of schools for non-payment of school fees, and the officers are also being denied medical services due to non-payment of insurance premiums”.
In her contribution, Hon. Ayo Omidiran canvases the reduction and or merger of some of the missions to a manageable number, and that the federal government should avoid the appointment of politicians to man the foreign missions, by using career diplomats as way out of the huge wage bills which are often not met.
Also in his submissions, Ralph Igbokwe, who advised the federal government to device a way of making the missions self-sufficient, also blamed the envelope budgeting system that will only put a paltry five million naira for foreign missions that require about N100 million annually for their operations.
While Mark Gbillah said the deplorable state of the missions as well as their inability to meet some basic necessities would also affect their ability to solicit foreign investments to the nation, Aminu Shagari described the situation as embarrassing, especially that there are sometimes nationals of the host nations working in the missions.