*Report seeks removal of quota system in engaging missions’ staff
The paucity of funds, layback attitude and recruitment of unqualified staff, have been identified as some of the factors responsible for the unpalatable state of Nigerian embassies and consulates abroad.
This was contained in a report unveiled Friday in Abuja. Tagged, State of Nigerian Embassies and Consulates Report, 2022, was an outcome of research that was initiated by the National Association of Seadogs.
In view of the research findings, the Association through its Capoon, Abiola Owoaje, called for the removal of the quota system in the employment of embassy and consulate staff, advocating that recruitment should strictly be based on merit. According to him, there are qualified individuals across the country and only the best should be engaged irrespective of geo-political areas.
The report also called for the establishment of a Special Trust Fund for the acquisition, equipment and maintenance of Nigerian embassies and consulates with at least, 20 per cent of revenue generated from consular services domiciled in it.
“Increment of budgetary allocation towards the acquisition of befitting embassies and consulate buildings as well as maintenance of existing infrastructure in Nigeria’s foreign missions is imperative and time”, the report suggested.
It goes further to admonish Foreign Affairs Ministry to develop an employment policy that targets more Nigerians already living in the various receiving countries. This, the report believes, will reduce the cost of relocation and other inconveniences associated with employing embassy and consulate staff from home.
To improve communication, the report tasked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to create an effective information technology system that is capable of supporting automated feedback on missions’ websites, social media handles and telephone lines.
Identifying unnecessary bureaucracy in the system, the report called for a synergy between the Ministry and missions.
The report early stated that the issue of Nigerian embassies has been on constant concern, not to Nigerians in the diaspora alone but to Nigerians at home as well as friends who are often embarrassed by all manners of stories about the situation and services at the embassies.
“Therefore, NASS/PC decided to commission a study to determine the actual condition of the embassies and consulates through the #OurVotesCount initiative. The method of study involved site visitation to the embassies and consulates, desktop review and analysis of 358 respondents from a cross-section survey.”
Adding: “According to the Vienna Convention, the functions of diplomatic missions transcend social or ceremonial functions. At their core, they protect the interests of citizens residing in host countries.
“Nigerian Foreign Missions, like other facets of life in our dear country is often afflicted by the lack of responsible leadership and have suffered declining fortunes. As I mentioned in the foreword, conversations about the state of Nigerian Embassies and Consulates should agitate the minds of any patriotic Nigerian.
“One point to note is that while it is true that some of the challenges bedevilling our diplomatic missions captured in the report are known to Nigerian diplomats, it should be our concern that serious efforts are not being deployed to ameliorate the situation.
“We should be concerned that our Foreign Missions, once centres of excellence, have been reduced to decrepit Missions.
“The Pyrates Confraternity needs to clarify that we are not interested in blame games. Instead, our intervention with the publication of this report is to stimulate appropriate conversations at the highest levels of government that would turn around the situation of Nigerian Diplomatic Missions.
“It is heartwarming that, recently, the Federal Government, through the Secretary to Government of the Federation, inaugurated a presidential committee to review the state of our diplomatic missions worldwide”, he said.
In his keynote address, former Spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Ogbole Amedu-Ode, identified the lack of synergy between the missions abroad and the Ministry as one of the causes of apathy in the service delivery of missions’ staff.
While admitting that there were some exceptional staff who exhibit Nigerian spirit, research showed that many people were not satisfied with the state of Nigerian foreign missions.