The Senate on Tuesday raised the red flag on the precarious state of Nigerian foreign missions, which they claimed were facing several challenges. The problems include the risk of eviction over inability to pay rent for residences, chanceries and other staff official quarters.
The embassies also also burdened by several months arrears of salaries and allowance owed officers in addition to lack of funds to meet other sundry expenses.
The upper chamber further disclosed that there were threats by host countries to revoke building permits of some properties belonging to Nigerian missions, following their poor structural conditions, which constitute hazard to the communities where the buildings are located.
It vowed to explore ways to fix what it called “monumental mess.”
The decision of the Senate followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Tijjani Yahaya Kaura, tagged: “The urgent need for the Federal Government of Nigeria to fund our foreign missions.”
The motion, which painted a gloomy picture of the diplomatic missions, read: “Nigerian diplomatic missions are facing several challenges, including their inability to pay home based officers allowances, local staff salaries, rent for residences, chanceries and other staff official quarters, in addition to the dire lack of funds for other sundry expenses such as visits to Nigerians in jail and provision for other consular services;
“There are threats by host countries to revoke building permits of some properties abroad belonging to Nigerian Missions, following their poor structural conditions, which constitute hazard to the communities where such buildings are situated, and lack of routine maintenance that will bring such structures in line with the building codes of host countries;
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs budget envelope is grossly inadequate to meet its expenditure requirements even at headquarters and with this situational analysis, the ministry’s approved 2017 budget would hardly provide the needed impetus required of the ministry towards achieving Nigeria’s foreign policy goal and objectives in pursuance of our national interest.”
However, attempt to raise a motion to summon the ministers of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyema; Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele to brief the Senate on the poor condition of foreign missions, was thrown out.
Instead, lawmakers resolved to set up an adhoc committee to engage stakeholders and come up with ways to address the issues raised in the motion.
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, is yet to announce the composition of the committee.
Meanwhile, the Senate has mandated its committee on tertiary education to meet with relevant stakeholders, especially the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and come up with recommendations on how to possibly scrap the post Unified Matriculation Examination (UME).
The Senate, in another development, called on the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, to construct small captive dams in all communities and locations.