Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru
By Agha Ibiam
Heads of Nigerian Missions in Europe have been urged to be patriotic and work to international standard to ensure improved service delivery to all Nigerians abroad and their host countries, and also, to justify the huge investment made in the missions.
The call was made yesterday by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, on the occasion of the signing of the Performance Contracts with Heads of Nigerian Foreign Missions in Europe which was initiated by the federal government in London.
Ashiru, said the objectives of the contract had been broken down into specifics of deliverable and outcomes in a manner that hold every Mission accountable for the performance of their duties and responsibilities.
The signing of the performance contract which started in Abuja with the Permanent Secretaries and Directors of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was first replicated abroad in New York and thereafter in Europe with 15 Foreign Ambassadors in attendance.
He said: “The performance contract system is an innovative management practice that intends to foster accountability in service delivery and promote cost-effectiveness in the conduct of government business in Nigeria.
It enhances the capacity of the ministry to deliver on the objectives,” he said, adding that Federal Government has introduced series of training and introduction of programmes “one them is the senior diplomatic management course targeted at the directorate level at horn their skills in modern diplomacy, leadership and management practices.”
The minister added that the programme would cover all categories of staff of the ministry in due course,
warning that “any officer who is unable to live up to the highest standard of professionalism and efficient service delivery will henceforth find it difficult to operate in the new environment that the Federal Government seeks to create.”
Ashiru told the diplomats that under the scheme, public servants are expected to be focused on the discharge of their assigned tasks with specific targets and timelines that could be regularly evaluated against overall government policies and objectives.
“It is no longer the case to argue that our outputs are intangible and therefore hardly susceptible to performance evaluation and measurement,” Ashiru said, adding that he has deployed foreign policy as an instrument of economic development to facilitate jobs for Nigerians.
To hold each ambassador accountable for the delivery of the agreed outcomes and set objectives over a given period, heads of missions that attended the event signed the document accordingly.
The objectives spelt out by Ashiru to the ambassadors included the number and timeliness of visas and passports issued to Nigerians and foreigners, the frequency and quality of political, economic and other reports rendered; the number and quality of private sector operators brought into the country amongst others.
In his remarks, Nigeria High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ambassador Dalhatu Tafida, said Nigerians deserve to be served better in order to achieve the transformation agenda of the Federal Government.
He said: “It is not unusual for heads of foreign missions to sign performance contract, what was obtained before was for foreign missions to do their work and inspect others. But with this innovation of a progressive government, it is rather expedient that President Goodluck Jonathan should be commended.”
While accepting their added roles in the contract, Heads of Foreign Missions however asked the Federal Government to inject more money in foreign affairs to enable them accomplish the set objectives.