House Committee Chairman on Foreign Affairs Hon. Yusuf Yakub
The Nigeria House of Representatives through its committee on foreign affairs has pledged to strengthen their oversight function to the ministry in order to ensure that the money earmarked for the reformation of the ministry is used for the purpose.
The committee chairman Hon. Yusuf Yakub, made this known on Tuesday during the ministry 2021 budget defence at the national assembly.
Yakub said his committee was not happy with what they saw during their last oversight visit to the ministry headquarters in Abuja, therefore appreciated the concern of President Muhammadu Buhari for approving and making the release of over N5 Billion to clear off all the existing liabilities in our Foreign Missions and give a new face to the headquarters in order to start ahead on a clean slate.
He noted that some persons are not comfortable with the reforms, but warned that its not going to be business as usual in the coming years.
“As a Committee, we emphasised that the oversight function of the Ministry will be strengthened in the coming year in order to ensure that the purpose for which every penny is earmarked is achieved.
“Any group or individual, that thinks they should tinker with any parts of the reforms, to us, must be making a huge joke of what Mr. President has approved. We must appreciate his good intentions. And as a Parliament, we will stand and ensure that the Missions are cleaned up to, at least, represent our country’s image outside the shores of this nation. Our concern is that no single individual or group should be given the opportunity to feel that they are greater than this country.” He said.
While presenting the 2020 budget performance and 2021 proposal to the committee, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said that his ministry appears not to be a priority for the federal government.
Onyeama also lamented that a lot of the country’s foreign missions are eyesore, describing it as a terrible embarrassment for the country to have the foreign missions in such state.
He noted further that due to poor funding, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) is trying to rationalise and cut down on the international organisations that Nigeria belongs to.
According to Onyeama, “When you look at what the ministry gets, compared to other ministries, foreign affairs ministry is underfunded, especially when you compare it to similar countries and even smaller countries like Egypt and South Africa, which have similar number of missions to our own, and you would find out that you just cannot compare (them). Ours is really much lower. And, of course, there are competing interests; we have security issues, as education takes a lot of the budget, but I think that any suggestion of collaboration between us and your committee to try to get more will be welcome.
In the same vein, the committee lamented on the dilapidated nature of the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs, regretting that the institute which has the potentials to portray the nation in good light to the outside world is threated as such.