Ex-envoy faults Buhari’s move to reduce foreign missions
FOLLOWING President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to prune the number of Nigeria’s foreign missions abroad, former Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador Umunna Humphrey Orjiako, has faulted the move.
The President had said it would be too expensive to maintain the 119 foreign missions Nigeria has due to the economic situation of the country after he was briefed on the activities of Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Bulus Lolo and other officials of the ministry.
According to the former envoy, the diplomatic community would not take the country serious if he goes on to reduce its missions abroad taking cognisance of the position it occupies in Africa in particular and globally in general.
He said: “The President certainly has more information than we do, but from the information available to us, l do not see any compelling reasons to reduce our missions overseas. This is because as every new administration arrives with the gut impulse to start savings by cutting our foreign relations until rationality reasserts itself.
“In the first place, no actors in the field of diplomacy are likely to take a country seriously if the volume and reach of its foreign policy fluctuates with the quantity and price of crude oil it sells in the world market.”
Orjiako, who posited that the premise of saving money by closing missions is misleading if not outrightly false, said: “Any knowledgeable diplomat will confirm that the financial cost of mission closure, let alone the diplomatic costs, in the short and long terms, outweighs any savings that may accrue.
“You incur unintended debts, liabilities and bad faith due to untimely breach of contracts, payment and restitution of trust could take decades.
“Instead of closure, I would propose that we emulate several other countries that run Smart missions.
“Right here in Abuja, several countries operate two to three-man missions with a sprinkling of locally-recruited members of staff.
“I bet you they do a more efficient and effective job than the amorphous, personnel-heavy missions we operate overseas. All it requires to run a smart mission is training, equipment and dedication and the costs could be cut by well over 70 per cent.”