From Aidoghie Paulinus and Joseph Inokotong, Abuja
Ninety seven Nigerian embassies/missions are currently battling with issues of rent, personnel, payment of allowances and the maintenance of the missions.
The development, Daily Sun learnt, was as a result of the Federal Government’s slashing of funding for foreign missions.
A Daily Sun’s source within the diplomatic cycle said the current state of the missions was disheartening, disclosing that as at September 2020, funding for the missions were slashed by the Federal Government.
“For example, a mission that was receiving between $80,000 to $90,000 per quarter, now receives between $30,000 to $40,000,” the source said.
Meanwhile, 82 embassies/missions are lying fallow without full representation in an ambassadorial capacity.
The situation, Daily Sun gathered, followed a circular issued by the Ministry of Foreign affairs in August recalling ambassadors, both career and non-career, who have completed three years tour of duty.
With the development, the Federal Government currently has only 12 ambassadors in 12 missions abroad out of 97 missions, excluding three missions which the government had downgraded namely: Libya, Ukraine and Burundi.
Some of the countries without full representation include the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Austria, Indonesia, Holy See, Romania, Philippines, Gambia and Ethiopia.
A Daily Sun source within the diplomatic circle who spoke on condition of anonymity said with 82 Nigerian missions abroad without ambassadorial representation, Nigeria stands to lose a lot of goodwill in terms of representation.
“If you have an ambassador in a country, there are engagements that an ambassador can easily make possible. For example, if there is a consular issue or serious bilateral issue and the ambassador wants to meet the officials of the host country, an ambassador requesting to meet the foreign minister or anybody as the case may be, will have more potency and value, more force than when a charge d’affaires is requesting for a meeting because the ambassador has the authority of his president to engage his host authorities.”
The source said though the financial loss cannot be quarantined, the country is also losing multiple amounts in foreign exchange which are supposed to accrue to the country.
On the delay in the posting of the 42 career ambassadors and 41 non-career ambassadors, whose names were forwarded to the Senate last year by President Muhammadu Buhari, the source who expressed worry over the delay, said he hoped it would not get to a stage where they would have to stage a protest.
However, Daily Sun gathered that an orientation exercise had been scheduled for the new ambassadors on January 22 after which they would receive their letters of credence.
When contacted over the development, spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ferdinand Nwonye, claimed ambassadorial nomination had been done a long time ago, but their deployment was yet to be disclosed.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has launched an investigation to unravel the cause of fire outbreak which razed its Abuja headquarters.
The incident which occurred in the early hours of yesterday, caused panic at the airtport road area of the FCT.
The NIS, which disclosed this via its official Twitter handle @nigimmigration pointed out that the fire, which affected some of the offices in the headquarters has been brought under control by firefighters.
The Service assured the public that the incident will not in any way affect the discharge of its services.
The tweet reads: “A fire incident occurred in our Service Headquarters this Morning. It affected some of our Offices.
“The fire has been put out by our Federal Fire Station & support from other agencies around the Airport.
“The cause of the fire is being investigated. We assure the public that the incident will not in any way affect the discharge of our services”.