• Friday, May 24, 2024
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Nigeria plans exit of international organisations over paucity of funds

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama Tuesday said plans are ongoing to reduce the amount of International Organisations Nigeria belongs to because of the paucity of funds.

Onyeama who made this known while defending the Ministry’s 2021 budget before the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs said the Ministry was faced with the challenge of meeting its contribution to international organizations it belongs to.

“We are owing a lot, and in the Federal Executive Council (FEC), there is a process to rationalise and cut down the International Organisations we belong to. This because we are just owing monies left and right and it is not even good for the image of the country.

“When you look at what the Ministry gets compared to other ministries, foreign affairs is underfunded, especially when you compared it to similar countries and even smaller countries like Egypt, South Africa who has a similar number of missions to our own. You will find out that you cannot compare. Ours is really much lower.

“At the end of the day, it is probably a question of priority for the government. Foreign Affairs, if we just look at all the ministries, which is what came out, it was a different allocation to each ministry, we really see that it is almost as if Foreign Affairs almost is not a priority, but it should be one of the bigger consuming ministries.

“And for the size of a country, giant Africa, we supposed to defend the interest of Africa, the black race around the world. We have a vast network of technical assistance programme to the Pacific, to the Caribbean to other Africa countries and we want to be a big player, to sit at the table as one of the countries running the world. And to be able to do that, we just need so many more resources.”

He stated that N1.6 billion is required for the movement of Ambassadors while officers will require N3.7 billion, making a total of N5.3 billion for the whole movement.

Chairman of the Committee, Yusuf Yakubu lamented how Nigeria has remained the whipping child of the world; buffeted on all sides as the country’s nationals still suffer the very poor fate of carrying the green passport that many parts of the world hate to see.

He said: “In spite of the much you have done these past years, Nigeria, as a nation, remains the whipping child of the world; we are buffeted on all sides and our nationals still suffer the very poor fate of carrying the green passport that many parts of the world hate to see. The problem is not about you, it is not about us in the House, but it concerns and worries us that we cannot get our international image to fit into the acceptable module of the international community.

“From Ghana to Gabon, South Africa to Libya, Nigerians remain at the receiving end of, most times, state-supported violence and all forms of ill-treatment in foreign jurisdictions, including Europe, the Americas, and Asia.”

“In principle, every Nigerian Embassy should be a mini-Nigeria; a place where information on our country, our economy, and our nationals in such a country should be on the fingertips of those who manage such Embassies or High Commissions’ Economic, Information and Cultural Desks. That is the standard practice everywhere you go to other countries, but again, sadly for us, our Foreign Missions have not seen this to be worth the attention.

“In neighbouring Ghana here, for instance, where there have been constant altercations with Nigerian traders, during the visit with the Rt. Hon. Speaker Gbajabiamila, I was taken aback at the level of disconnect between Nigerians and the High Commission. The High Commission neither has the record of the number of Nigerians in Ghana nor any such necessary data. This is not right and this Committee expects to see a change in the new year.”