Members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and a team led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, and his Minister of State’s counterpart, Amb.Zubairu Dada, have met in Abuja on how to better place the ministry to deliver on its corporate mandate with the necessary support of the legislature.
Participants at the meeting x-rayed the enormous challenges that have bedevilled the ministry and the Nigerian missions abroad in their bid to promote and implement the Foreign Policy Objectives and Goals of the Nigerian nation.
According to a statement by Nkem Anyata-Lafia, S.A. on Media & Public Affairs to the Committee Chair, such issues as poor funding of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and zero budgetary allocation to some of its missions abroad, lack of training and re-training of its staff, poor communication facilities and links between the missions and headquarters, including non- functional websites and moribund IT infrastructure and,indeed,other systemic inadequacies and challenges were identified as some of the limiting factors in the delivery of the nation’s foreign policy aspirations and targets.
He noted that participants were,however, unanimous in their belief that,in the face of several limitations and drawbacks noticed in the course of their interactions,the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has fared well under the Buhari Administration.
Anyata-Lafia noted that nonetheless, they,equally, expressed the desire for greater commitment to the twin issues of Citizens and Economic Diplomacy, stressing that Nigerian nationals abroad are yet to fully enjoy the benefits they deserve from the missions and that the amount of Foreign Direct Investment in the nation’s economy today is still a far cry from the general expectations.
Speaking during the interactive session, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama said the support of the legislature was necessary to achieve the targets the ministry has set for itself.
In response to certain enquiries, with regards to the treatment melted out on Nigerians abroad and those who seek to travel outside the country even on official capacity, the Minister of State of the ministry, Amb.Zubairu Dada sued for attitudinal change among some Nigerian nationals,who he observed,had the habit to abuse every process and official privileges.
The Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs,Hon.Yusuf Buba Yakub, called for greater media visibility on the activities and mandate of the ministry.
He said it was important for the ministry to promote its activities in order to attract the funding it desires to function better.
He said the committee would do its best to facilitate processes that would ensure that the ministry was well-funded and lauded the performance of the Minister,Amb.Onyeama for his actions,especially,during the xenophobic attacks on some Nigerians living in the Republic of South Africa.
The lawmaker said the committee’s goal was to see a well-funded and motivated Ministry of Foreign Affairs that is proactive and able to represent Nigeria well at the international community at all times.
He promised that the committee would continue to be on the same page with the ministry on the issue of making the nation’s missions abroad active and vibrant, saying that a sick foreign mission will hardly attract anyone to invest in Nigeria and that security and the development of our infrastructure were, also, necessary prerequisites to attract investor -confidence.
“We must do all we can to open our nation to the world. Your actions as a ministry here are paramount.
“Look at China,in the 70s China’s GDP was lower than ours here. But,forty years ago they decided to open themselves up to the world and the story today has changed completely.
“Let us strive to do something unique here and change the narrative for our nation. We promise as a legislature to do something in our on way to give you all the support that you need,” he said.