OrderPaperToday-A bill to allow foreign missions withhold a portion of their internally generated revenue (IGR) and partake in funds made visa and passport fees is in the works in the House of Representatives, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila has revealed.
Speaking on a motion calling for the rescue of overseas missions on Tuesday, he asked the chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee, Buba Yakub (APC, Adamawa), to bring Bill to create the framework for the intervention.
The motion which called for the intervention was moved by Buba, who disclosed that over 100 Nigerian missions all over the world have been getting zero capital budget allocation for some years now.
He also informed the House that several of the missions have experienced one form of harassment or another due to inability to meet obligations.
Yakub said that, “For some time now, the entire world has continued to witness several disturbing videos on both the social and traditional media portraying events in some Nigerian Missions abroad and even the ill-treatment of Nigerians without a word from their Missions. There was an alleged eviction of staff in DR Congo due to what we were told was the non-payment of recertification fee in respect of the property housing the Nigerian Mission in that country.
“Another was the invasion of our Mission in Dakar, Senegal, by a group of hoodlums; and another was the breaking of car windscreens and vandalising of other property belonging to a Nigerian Mission by a Nigerian or a group that was said to be aggrieved with services at the Mission.”
He went further to add that “many of the Missions abroad operate from dilapidated buildings and rented properties with long unpaid rents, unpaid utility bills, poor and moribund communication infrastructure, dingy furniture, lack of utility cars and sometimes, with no cars for the Ambassador/high Commissioner to even fly the official flag of our country in their places of assignment, and worried about the above in the face of the fact that so much funds are generated as revenue through Visa and Passport issuance, but none of these go into the coffers of any of the Missions.”
Linking the problem to the zero budget allocation to most of the missions, he expressed concern that the zero-budgetary allocation for Capital Expenditure for over 100 Missions abroad in the last few years may have taken quite a toll on their performance, especially in relation to our Economic and Citizens Diplomacy, which are the very planks of the present administration’s foreign policy agenda.
“This negligence and abandonment of our Missions abroad have the capacity to scuttle the good and noble intentions of our dear president in his laudable efforts to revamp the poor perception that our nation’s image had hitherto suffered in the global community over the past years before he took over the reins of governance,” he stated.
He, therefore, called on the “Federal Government to allow each of the Missions abroad partake of the revenue generated from activities within its domains. These include Visa and Passport Issuance fees and others. This will, no doubt, enhance the work environment of the Missions and make for a positive change in their outlook.”
While Mr James Faleke (APC, Lagos) opposed this proposal as contrary to the law and the policy of Tertiary Single Account (TSA), Speaker Gbajabiamila, in his ruling, called for the resolutions to be drafted into a Bill, instead of a motion.
The House also urged the Federal Government to adequately provide funds for the Missions in order to take care of their Capital Expenditure every given year and encourage the strict implementation of the Smart Mission Concept in all of its Missions abroad.