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Poor funding, unqualified staff impair Nigeria’s foreign mission — Report

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie (Abuja Bureau Chief)
10 December 2022   |   2:38 am
Paucity of fund, layback attitude and recruitment of unqualified staff have been identified as some of the factors responsible for the unpalatable state of Nigerian embassies and consulates abroad.

Abiola Owoaje

Paucity of fund, layback attitude and recruitment of unqualified staff have been identified as some of the factors responsible for the unpalatable state of Nigerian embassies and consulates abroad.
 

 
This was contained in a report unveiled yesterday in Abuja. Tagged, ‘State of Nigerian Embassies and Consulates Report 2022’, it was an outcome of a research initiated by the National Association of Seadogs.

In view of the research findings, the Association through its Capoon, Abiola Owoaje, called for the removal of quota system in the employment of embassy and consulate staff, advocating that recruitment should strictly be based on merit.

According to him, there are qualified individuals across the country and only the best should be engaged irrespective of geo-political areas.

The report also called for establishment of Special Trust Fund for acquisition, equipment and maintenance of Nigerian embassies and consulates with at least 20 per cent of revenue generated from consular services domiciled in it.

“Increment of budgetary allocation towards acquisition of befitting embassies and consulate buildings as well as maintenance of existing infrastructure in Nigeria’s foreign missions is imperative and time,” the report suggested.

It also admonished the Foreign Affairs Ministry to develop an employment policy that targets more Nigerians already living in the various receiving countries. This, the report believe, would reduce cost of relocation and other inconveniences associated with employing embassy and consulate staff from home.

To improve communication, the report tasked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to create effective information technology system capable of supporting automated feedback on missions’ websites, social media handles and telephone lines. Identifying unnecessary bureaucracy in the system, the report called for synergy between the ministry and missions.

The report stated that the issue of Nigerian embassies has been of constant concern not only to Nigerians in the diaspora alone but also to Nigerians at home as well as friends who are often embarrassed by all manners of stories about the situation and services at the embassies.

It added: “Therefore, NASS/PC decided to commission a study to determine the actual condition of the embassies and consulates through the #OurVotesCount initiative. The method of study involved site visitation to the embassies and consulates, desktop review and analysis of 358 respondents from a cross-section survey.

“According to the Vienna Convention, the functions of diplomatic missions transcend social or ceremonial functions. At their core, they protect the interests of citizens residing in host countries.

“Nigerian Foreign Missions, like other facets of life in our dear country are often afflicted by the lack of responsible leadership, and have suffered declining fortunes. As I mentioned in the foreword, conversations about the state of Nigerian Embassies and Consulates should agitate the minds of any patriotic Nigerian.

“One point to note is that while it is true that some of the challenges bedeviling our diplomatic missions captured in the report are known to Nigerian diplomats, it should be our concern that serious efforts are not being deployed to ameliorate the situation.

“We should be concerned that our Foreign Missions, once centres of excellence, have been reduced to decrepit Missions.

“The Pyrates Confraternity needs to clarify that we are not interested in blame games. Instead, our intervention with the publication of this report is to stimulate appropriate conversations at the highest levels of government that would turn around the situation of Nigerian Diplomatic Missions.

“It is heartwarming that, recently, the Federal Government, through the Secretary to Government of the Federation, inaugurated a presidential committee to review the state of our diplomatic missions worldwide.”

In his keynote address, former Spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Ogbole Amedu-Ode, identified lack of synergy between the missions and the Ministry as one of the factors affecting service delivery.