FG To Cut Foreign Missions Says Buhari

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Determined to match words with action by cutting down on recurrent expenditure to provide more for infrastructural projects, the federal government is set to prune down the number of the country’s foreign missions.

To achieve this, a presidential committee is underway to review the existing foreign missions and determine those that are essential.

President Muhammadu Buhari has also demanded the list of illegal holders of diplomatic and official passports for necessary action.

Of late, Nigeria’s huge cost of governance has come under severe criticism of draining government treasury and affecting capital votes for economic growth.

Both the legislature and the presidency have expressed reservations about the high recurrent expenditure and the two have agreed to cut down on it to free more money for infrastructure development.

The National Assembly early this year passed N4.493 budget with N2.607 trillion for recurrent expenditure and N556 billion for capital expenditure.

Analysts have raised concerns that much of government expenditure goes into over-bloated salaries and other emoluments for a legion of assistants and advisers attached to government, at the expense of capital projects in infrastructure, health, education, and other sectors that would improve the quality of life in Africa’s largest economy.

 
The situation has remained a major challenge to the economy and had led to the reduction in the funds available for capital projects. 
 
Although, the federal government under former President Goodluck Jonathan reduced the ratio from 74.4 percent in 2011 to 71.5 percent in 2012 and further to 67.5 percent in 2013, but it rose again to 74 percent in 2014.

President Buhari has however assured that the committee will come out with a sizable number for appropriate standards to be maintained.

The president spoke after a meeting with the Permanent Secretary  of  the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bulus Lolo, Pointing out that there was no point operating missions all over the world “with dilapidated facilities  and demoralized staff, ” when the need for some of the missions was questionable.

“Let’s keep only what we can manage. We can’t afford much for now. There’s no point pretending,”  President Buhari told Ambassador Lolo and other officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The President also called for the record of former  government officials and other persons still using diplomatic and official passports illegally, saying that his administration will take necessary actions against them.

“Something has to be done so that we can get back our respectability as a country. Some people carry official passports  and get involved in all sorts of negative acts. We need to do something about it,” the President said.

The Nigeria Immigration Service on Monday revoked illegal diplomatic and official passports being held by senators, former governors and others that are not approved.

Earlier, Ambassador Lolo  had told President Buhari that the challenges facing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs included the absence of a Foreign Service Commission, poor funding of foreign missions, policy inconsistencies  and training deficiencies, among others.

 

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