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Reps summon foreign affairs minister, perm sec over breach of appropriation act

The House of Representatives has summoned the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and permanent secretary in the Ministry to appear on Monday over alleged…

The House of Representatives has summoned the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and permanent secretary in the Ministry to appear on Monday over alleged failure to comply with section 11 of the 2022 Appropriation Act.

The lower chamber expressed outrage over the deplorable condition of Nigerian embassies/high commissions and the hassle the country’s ambassadors were facing in the discharge of their duties.

The House at plenary yesterday expressed worries that many Nigerian embassies were in a dilapidated state and had become a laughing stock largely due to the refusal of the ministry to allow ambassadors/high commissioners access the capital components of their budgets to carry out needed facelifts.

The lawmakers spoke at plenary while contributing to a motion of urgent public importance moved by Rep Kasimu Bello Maigari.

They called on the federal government to compel the ministry to implement the provision of the 2022 Appropriation Act (S.11) which empowers Nigeria embassies and high commissions across the world to spend capital components of their budgets without recourse to the headquarters of the ministry.

Maigari said Nigerian foreign missions and service officers had been at the receiving end of the negative effects of the actions and inactions of the ministry “which have sometimes resulted in hiring taxis for diplomats on official duties and in the forceful ejection of ambassadors/high commissioners and other foreign service officers from rented apartments with their personal effects and other property thrown into the streets of capital cities of the world even when such embassies/high commissions have budgeted capital funds lying unutilised in various bank accounts.”

The chairman House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Buba Yakubu, said the situation was so bad that Nigerian ambassadors could not invite their fellow ambassadors to their residences or the Nigerian houses all over the world.

“This is the issue all over; we were at the embassy in Washington DC; the cooling system was not working and we found Nigerians who had come with children to seek for consular services removing their clothes because of heat, it was a hot period and they started shouting at us that what kind of country is this.

“When we went to Cameroon where the former chief of defence staff is serving, in his residence, a fence that is not up to 50 meters fell but officers (of foreign affairs ministry) have to be sent from Abuja; pay their tickets and they will go to see it, come back to report to the Ministry before approval will be given for that fence to be rebuilt.”

Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said he had a personal experience in many embassies which he described as a ‘crying shame”.

“It’s a crying shame that the National Assembly is trying to make things better for those we send out to represent us and some people are resisting,” he said.

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