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Nigerian embassies owe a lot to host countries

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has complained about the inadequate overhead budgetary provisions to Nigerian missions abroad, resulting in a lot of debt for electricity and rent.

While defending the ministry’s 2021 budget at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, Onyeama said the state of many missions abroad is an embarrassment to the nation’s image.

The minister complained that the budget for the ministry is computed in naira even though most payments abroad are done in dollars, a situation he said is volatile due to the upward trajectory of the exchange rate.

He said the volatility usually results in a shortfall for missions abroad, and in a situation where they owe a lot to host countries.Nigerian embassies owe a lot to host countries

“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,” he was quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

The minister said the Federal Government has already commenced plans to withdraw Nigeria’s membership of some international organisations due to the financial commitment.

“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.

“This is because we are just owing monies left and right,” he said.

Onyeama said the Foreign Ministry requires additional billions of naira to fulfill needs such as the renovations of missions, which he described as ‘eyesores’; movement of officers, ambassadors and their families; payment of clothing allowance to officers; and payment of debt owed to local contractors.

He said the ministry also needs N225 million to pay premium for the insurance of its headquarters, and N342 million for the building of infrastructure to bridge the ICT gap the ministry currently faces.