Nigeria is likely to close down 80 Missions around the world as a result of poor funding if the 2019 budget estimate of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented to the National Assembly is anything to go by
Figures from the budget indicates that many of the ambassadors serving outside the country are unable to pay children school fees, rent, electricity, medical and other utility bills with the headquarters of the federal ministry of foreign affairs owing both volunteers and its staff a total sum of N4.9billion entitlements.
Ivotesng.com reports that Nigeria presently has 110 missions around the world but the budget of the ministry of foreign affairs for this fiscal year will only focus more attention on 30, leaving the other 80 in limbo.
Speaking during the 2019 budget defense, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mustapha Suleiman said discussions were ongoing over possibilities of shutting down some foreign missions.
He revealed that there was rationalization of local staff and converting them to contract as cost saving measure to reduce personnel cost and avoid huge terminal benefit.
Worried that the staff of the ministry hardly pay their health bills, the Permanent Secretary said they are adopting the Global Health Insurance Scheme.
“The approval of the scheme will provide health insurance facilities for officers in our Missions at an affordable cost; Engagement with Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Fund for the redevelopment of the Federal Government properties abroad; Rehabilitation and renting of properties not in use through public private partnership arrangement. Sharing cost for utilities with other Agencies occupying of the Missions building. Provision of intervention funds for Missions under the service wide vote,” the Permanent Secretary, who represented the minister said.
Suleiman said that the N4.123billion capital votes proposed for the missions for the 2019 fiscal year out of the entire N7.6billion proposed for the entire Ministry , can only cover 30 out of the 110 Missions abroad critically in need of such funding .
Suleiman said the foreign mission is facing inadequate funds to officer’s quarters which are in a dilapidated state; “with representational cars old and need to be replaced; Inadequate funds to pay school fees, medical and utility bills, rehabilitate/renovate Residence and Insufficient funds to complete ongoing projects. Insufficient funds for the payment of returning officers who have finished their missions and return.”
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