From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Over 300 foreign service officers due for posting since 2019, but issued letters in December 2020, are currently grounded in Abuja, Daily Sun has learnt.
The development is coming as over 170 foreign service officials are stranded at their duty post abroad.
A source within the diplomatic cycle who is familiar with the state of Nigerian missions abroad, told Daily Sun that no major posting had been done in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2019.
The source added that over 300 officers were due for posting and letters were issued to them in December 2020, but that the process was suspended and new posting list was yet to be released.
“Most missions currently lack officers and it is seriously affecting the output of our embassies, high commissions and consulates. At the Nigerian Consulate in Atlanta, USA for instance, there are only two officers and both of them are ambassadors-designate. The implication is that such officers will be focusing their energy on how to move to their countries of accreditation as ambassador which will impact on the activities of the consulate,” the source said.
The source further said missions in Angola and Hungary ought to have at least three officers, but presently have only an officer in the past one year.
The source also said same applies to Nigerian embassies and missions in Russia, Washington DC, USA, China, South Africa, France etc, that have just three officers or less instead of at least six to nine officers.
The source further disclosed that 140 young officers recruited in 2017 and graduated from the Foreign Service Academy between 2019 and 2020, were yet to proceed on the mandatory foreign training attachment.
Daily Sun also leant that over 170 officers that have completed their tour of duty between 2019 and 2020 were still stranded at their duty post because officers have not been sent to replace them.
“At headquarters in Abuja, the morale among officers is very low and it has not been this bad in the history of the ministry since the inception of democratic rule. Officers cannot plan their lives and that of their families. Most officers on ground are seriously embarrassed with issues of payment of rent, school fees, hospital bills etc. Some category of staff in the ministry that sold or rented their properties and used the proceeds to prepare for posting are now left with frustration due to uncertainty about the posting process,” the source further said.
The successful induction programme for ambassadors-designate held between February 16 and 18, 26 ambassadors-designate have received agreemo and had been given letters of credence.
The affected ambassadors and consuls-general that have also received their appointment letters were expected to depart for their duty post soon.
“Ironically, however, the officers that are supposed to work with them and make things easy are grounded in Abuja and not sure of when the posting exercise will be concluded for them to depart to their respective missions,” the source also said.
Spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ferdinand Nwonye, said posting would be released soon.
“Posting is ongoing. It will be released any moment from now. What happened was that there was no posting in 2019 and in 2020, everybody saw the issue of COVID-19 locked down everywhere. That was actually what delayed it, but it will be out any moment from now. So, there will be more than adequate manpower in the missions,” he said.