The much-contemplated closure of Nigeria’s foreign missions may begin this year as the federal government yesterday unveiled a lean 2019 budget for them.

An insight into the budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the missions presented to the Senate yesterday in Abuja showed that the money can only cater for 30 of the country’s 110 missions.

This implies that the rest 80 missions spread across the globe will have zero-budget for the year.
For instance, in 2018 the federal government allocated N11.333billion to capital votes for the missions but cut it to N4.123billion in 2019, representing a reduction of N7.209billion or 64 per cent.
Worried officials of the ministry said that the amount can only cover 30 missions.

Already, many of the ambassadors serving in most of the missions are said to be unable to pay their children’s school fees, rent, electricity, medical and other utility bills due to the paucity of funds.
The situation is worse at the headquarters of the ministry in Abuja where both volunteers and permanent members of staff are owed the sum of N4.9billion as entitlements.

This was the pathetic picture presented to members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs yesterday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The committee’s vice chairman, Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central), urged the ministry to seek an audience with President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse the ugly situation.
Shehu Sani said that it would be a shame for Nigeria that pride itself as the giant of Africa to keep paying rents for embassies 60 years after its independence.
During ministry’s defence of its 2019 budget yesterday, the permanent secretary, Mustapha Suleiman, said that discussions were ongoing over the possibility of shutting down some of the missions.

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