By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday called on the Federal Government to encourage the strict implementation of the Smart Mission Concept in all of its Missions abroad.
The House also called on the Federal Government to allow each of the Missions Abroad partake of the revenue generated from activities within its domains, these include Visa and Passport Issuance fees and others as it will, no doubts, enhance the work environment of the Missions and make for a positive change in their outlook.
It’s equally asked the Federal Government to adequately provide funds for the Missions in order to take care of their Capital Expenditure every given year. A situation where there is zero-budgeting for all the Missions in this regard is to expect nothing from these Missions
These followed a mission moved by the Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Buba Yakub at the Tuesday plenary.
Presenting the motion on “ urgent need for the House to save our Nation the Embarrassment Emanating from our Mission Abroad by evaluating the status of the mission and act promptly” Yakub said there was an alleged eviction of staff in DR Congo due to nonpayment.
“Notes that the Nigerian Diplomatic service was established by the Tafawa Baicwa-led Federal Government in l957,three years before Nigeria’s Independence, to prepare the nation for its foreign representation after independence and to afford her an opportunity to play major roles in the affairs of the globe. It began as the External Affairs Division of the Prime Minister’s office and was under the supervision of a colonial offxcial.
“Also notes that. one major rationale in seeking the establishment of diplomatic relations with other countries of the world was, and still is, the great importance government attaches to maintaining friendly relations with other independent countries of the world. This is hinged on the belief that diplomacy facilitates communication and regular interaction among leaders of States and other entities in world politics. As such, establishing diplomatic relations with other countries is. usually, seen as a vital tool for minimizing frictions in interstate relations, promoting the security of State and establishing some form of international order;
“Aware that another major reason that probably accounts for Nigeria’s establishment of diplomatic missions, even right from independence, is the preserved need to use diplomatic exchange as instruments of administrative and economic co-operation with other States. This, probably, explains why attention is still given to establishing missions in contiguous States and in States within the African and West African sub-region. This is in order to support positive and cooperative efforts for development;
“Also aware that Nigeria has over 100 of such Missions scattered across all parts of the world housing several staff from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior and others, who are engaged in several aspects of diplomatic, economic, security and consular duties and that it is part of the statutory mandate of this House to, among other responsibilities, make annual budgetary provisions for all the aforementioned Missions and to undertake oversight functions on them;
“Observes that, for some time now, the entire world has continued to witness several disturbing videos on both the social and traditional media portraying events in some Nigerian Missions abroad and even the ill-treatment of Nigerians without a word from their Missions. There was an alleged eviction of staff in DR Congo due to what we were told was the non-payment of recertification fee in respect of the property housing the Nigerian Mission in that country; another was the invasion of our Mission in Dakar, Senegal, by a group of hoodlums; and another was the breaking of car windscreens and vandalizing of other property belonging to a Nigerian Mission by a Nigerian or a group that was said to be aggrieved with services at the Mission;
“Further observes that, many of the Missions abroad operate from dilapidated buildings and rented properties with long unpaid rents, unpaid utility bills, poor and moribund communication infrastructure, dingy furniture, no utility cars and sometimes with no cars for the Ambassador/ High Commissioner to even fly the official flag of our country in their places of assignment, and worried about the above in the face of the fact that so much hands are generated as revenue through Visa and Passport Issuance, but none of these goes into the coffers of any of the Missions.
“Concerned that, the zero-budgetary allocation for Capital Expenditure for over 100 Missions abroad in the last few years may have taken quite a toll on their performance, especially in relation to our Economic and Citizens Diplomacy, which are the very planks of the present Administration’s foreign policy agenda and that this negligence and abandonment of our Missions abroad have the capacity to scuttle the good and noble intentions of our dear President in his laudable efforts to revamp the poor perception that our nation’s image had hitherto suffered in the global community over the past years before he took over the reins of governance;
“Disturbed that, the condition of our Missions abroad has become a sad caricature of what they should be and a laughing stock in the eyes of a world that prides us as the Giant of Africa; and that, in the midst of their challenges, these Missions can neither attract any Foreign Direct Investment into our nation nor possess what it takes to address the yearning of the nation’s citizens abroad” he said