By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs has threatened that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will get zero allocation in the 2021 budget unless it urgently makes available certain requested documents.
The House Committee led by Yusuf Buba Yakub were angry on Tuesday that the Director of Finance and Administration of the ministry who appeared alongside the Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, was unable to provide important answers to how the bailout given to the ministry by the federal government was spent.
He was asked to provide the said details while answering questions from the members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. But he couldn’t.
Similarly, the committee wanted proof on huge expenditure concerning two generators at the ministry which the Director spent millions of naira on.
The committee thereafter warned that failure to provide the financial details may cause a delay in the passage of the Ministry’s 2021 budget.
Chairman of the committee, Yusuf Buba Yakub had in his speech referred to a bailout given to the ministry to offset some incurred debts, as well as staff welfare arrears being owed by various Nigerian missions.
“We must appreciate the concern of Mr President for approving and making release of over USD 18 Million, over 1 Million Pounds and over N5 billion to clear off all the existing liabilities in our Foreign Missions and give a new face to the headquarters in order to start ahead on a clean slate,” he said.
According to him, the move was part of a wider reform approved by the president to reposition the ministry for better delivery as regards to Nigeria’s foreign policies.
In response, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the 2020 budget implementation had been very difficult due to the budget slash as a result of the COVID-19.
As result of the the budget slash, most missions had not been able to meet their core obligation. According to him, missions have not been able to pay for health insurance, education supplement, electricity and other utilities.
He said that the ministry lost $3 million in personnel cost in the 2020 as a result of the CBN exchange rate.
On the perdormance of the budget, he said 71 per cent for personal was released and 100 per cent utilised , 72 per cent for overhead 94 was released utilised and 50 per cent for capital and 46 percent utilised,” Onyeama said.