Reps to probe activities of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, missions

Elizabeth AtimeMay 10, 20245 min

Reps are set to carry out a holistic investigation into the activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and missions with concerns over models of visa applications by Nigerians in foreign missions including express services.

Reps on WAEC

The House of Representatives on Thursday mandated its Committee on Foreign Affairs yet again to carry out a holistic investigation into the activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and missions.

This was a sequel to a motion brought by Rep. Ben Etanabene (LP, Delta) at Thursday’s plenary in Abuja.

OrderPaper recalls that in December 2021, the House Committee on Public Accounts criticised the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) for engaging consultants to manage visa and passport-related matters at Nigerian missions across the world.

Consequently, the committee summoned the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Shuaib Belgore; and the Acting Comptroller-General of the (NIS), Idris Jere, to appear before it to address the issue.

Moving the motion, Etanabene noted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a body recognized by law to ensure the implementation of the Foreign policy objectives of government exercisable through the various Foreign Mission equally plays other specialized roles that promote and regulate how Nigeria and Nigerians are perceived across the global community, especially through activities in our Embassies and High Commissions which carry out Consular and Diplomatic functions in all areas.

According to him,  the government has set in motion reforms for effective service delivery in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Parastatals and the Missions adding that the government has put in place a clearly defined Foreign Policy thrust of Democracy, Development, Demography and Diaspora known as 4Ds to usher in a new foreign policy focus for the country.

He said despite the efforts of the House, Nigerians around the world are faced with general and urgent consular services challenges saying “many Nigerians are illegally held or imprisoned in foreign countries and often under harsh conditions that may lead to loss of lives if urgent actions are not taken.”

He continued, “Many Nigerian students are stranded in foreign lands over issues that can be resolved and that many Nigerians owned businesses around the world helping in contributing to the economy of those countries and sending remittances back home are suffering harassment and sabotage.

He explained further, “Nigerians go through extreme difficulties to secure visas for legitimate travels including Government Officials and Legislators after paying exorbitant visa fees.

“Embassies in a bid to ease visa application processes have resulted in outsourcing the processes to agents whose cost of services are borne by Nigerians.”

The lawmaker expressed concern that several modes of visa applications are in force including express services with huge costs paid by applicants who are sometimes denied visas after such payments. 

According to him, “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in addition to budgetary allocations, benefits from intervention funds, for running the affairs of the ministry and missions as well as the internally generated revenue by several missions around the world with questions over effective and efficient utilization over the years.

 “The country has properties and assets across the world under various missions, many underutilized and several others abandoned which if properly audited and harnessed will enhance the efficiency of our Foreign Service Officers and increase the revenue that is generated by the Federal Government.

“In a lot of missions, local staff ceiling has been exceeded due to violation of rules and in some instances, the ceiling of Foreign Service Officers. This has further resulted in indebtedness in the respective missions.

“If these issues are not investigated and appropriate and urgent actions taken by the House, it may lead to loss of lives and properties, further difficulties in visa and consular services home and abroad, malfeasance and waste, inefficiency and loss of revenue, poor implementation of the government reforms, 4Ds policy thrust.”

While ruling on the motion, the House mandated its Committee on Foreign Affairs to investigate and report back within three weeks.

Elizabeth Atime

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