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Reps To Probe Activities Of Foreign Affairs Ministry, Missions

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

The resolution was a sequel to the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance moved by the member representing Okpe/Sapele/Uvwie Federal Constituency, Delta State, Mr Benedict Etanabene during Thursday’s plenary in Abuja.

Moving the motion, Etanabene said the Federal Government has set in motion reforms for effective service delivery in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Parastatals and the Missions, saying, “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.”

The Labour Party chieftain, however, noted that despite the efforts of the government and the parliament, Nigerians around the world are faced with general and urgent consular services challenges.

He said, “The House is concerned that 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.

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

“Many 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 to outsourcing the processes to agents whose cost of services are born by Nigerians,” he said.

The lawmaker said 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.

The House, he added, is “Conscious, that 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.”

He also said that the committee had received several complaints regarding issues of employment in the ministry and missions, appointments, postings, redeployment and disciplinary issues that affect morals and service delivery.

“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 some 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,” he said.

If these issues are not investigated and appropriate and urgent actions taken by the House, the lawmaker noted that the development “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 and poor implementation of the government reforms 4Ds policy thrust.”

Consequently, the House mandated the Committee on Foreign Affairs to report back within three weeks for further legislative action.

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