Godfrey Onyeama, the minister of foreign affairs, says the landlord of the building where the Nigerian embassy in Hungary is located is threatening to evict the embassy. Onyeama was speaking while defending the ministry’s 2021 budget at the house of representatives in Abuja on Tuesday.
The minister said one of the challenges the ministry is facing is the movement of officers, ambassadors, and their families. He explained that the ministry needs N1.6 billion to move ambassadors and pay officers N3.7 billion, making a total of N5.3 billion for the whole movement. The minister said there is a need to address the inadequate overhead budgetary provisions to the missions, which is resulting in a lot of debt for electricity and rent.
“Just on Monday, the ambassador in Hungary called to say they are going to throw them out from the chancery building. That the landlord is coming and that they do not have the money to pay,” NAN quoted him to have said. “And we get that from a lot of missions across the world and that is not a sustainable way of running foreign service.
“Then this exchange rate differential with the CBN is really something we need to address once and for all. “It is not so easy, all of these things are computed in naira and all the payments abroad are in dollars and once the exchange rate is changed, it never goes the other way, it always goes up, it never comes down vis-a-vis the dollar. This means immediate shortfall for all our missions.”
Onyeama said the federal government is making plans to reduce the number of international organisations Nigeria belongs to because of a scarcity of funds. “We are owing a lot, and in the federal executive council (FEC), there is a process to rationalise and cut down on the international organisations we belong to,” he said.
“This is because we are just owing monies left and right and it is not even good for the image of the country. “A lot of our missions are eyesores and it is just a huge embarrassment to the country that we can have missions in such terrible conditions. “We have been receiving letters from the national assembly forwarding to us various claims and judgement and asking us to pay them.
“We have a big challenge with clothing allowances, as you know, all officers in our missions from grade level 7 and above are entitled to $2,500 clothing allowance per annum. “In the 2021 budget, about 1,312 officers will be expecting the payment of these allowances and if you take at the CBN official rate, we are looking at N1.2 billion. “What we have available is N762 million for that, to able to pay the clothing allowances, we still need an additional sum of N500 million.”
In July, Onyeama said the federal government is considering a review of embassy operations across the world.