- 80 foreign missions without capital vote in 2019 Budget
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Senate on Wednesday decried the deplorable condition of all the 130 Nigerian missions abroad due to gross underfunding by the federal government.
This is coming just as the Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mustapha Suleiman, disclosed that 80 foreign missions are not captured in the 2019 budget estimate of the ministry.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu (Oyo Central), wondered why the ministry in spite of sorry state of Nigerian missions abroad , came up with meagre budgetary proposals for 2019.
Sunmonu, who was responding to the 2019 budget defence of the foreign affairs ministry, expressed concern at the deplorable condition of most of the embassies.
On his part, the Vice Chairman of the committee, Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central) accused the federal government of not showing any seriousness in the running of the embassies abroad in the last couple of years .
“Year in, year out, based on budgetary proposals and poor implementations, the government at the centre has not been serious about her responsibility as a country. No responsible nation that has clear cut development- driven and visionary foreign policy will deliberately underfund her foreign missions,” he said.
He added that “for the past four years this committee has been over-sighting this ministry in terms of budgetary appropriations and other assistance, no significance progress can be said to have been made .
“Most of our missions are in sorry state by not being able to pay their electricity or water bills and even the nation’s diplomats too are in a state of hunger and indebtedness based on information gathered or practical experience witnessed .
“Many of the so-called diplomats cannot pay their children school fees particularly in Brussels in Belgium, and the worst of it is the toilet of the Nigerian embassy in Moscow , Russia that is stinking due to non-functionality of its flusher , embarrassingly making anybody that uses it to flush it with bucket of water fetched from adjoining embassy .
“It is saddening that from all indications and based on budgetary proposals tabled before this committee, government is not making any serious attempt in tackling the global ridicule that smaller countries like Cuba, and Jamaica, are not facing,” he added.
Earlier, the deplorable state of the country’s missions abroad was laid bare by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mustapha Suleiman, who disclosed that 80 out of the missions are not captured in the 2019 capital estimate of the ministry.
Suleiman, who appeared before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs to defend the ministry’s 2019 budget estimate, lamented that the N4.123 billion capital votes proposed for the missions for the 2019 fiscal year out of the entire N7.6 billion proposed for the entire ministry can only cover 30 out of the 110 missions abroad that were critically in need of such funding.
According to him, the N4.123 billion capital votes proposed for all the 110 missions abroad was a far cry from N11.333 billion earmarked in 2018, signifying reduction of N7.209 billion or 64 per cent.
“As a result of this, only 30 missions could be considered out of 110 missions for purchase of representational car, renovation/completion of ongoing projects.