The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has revealed that Nigeria’s missions around the world lacked 21st century infrastructure, especially information and communication technology (ICT).
Onyeama gave the hint yesterday when he appeared before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
He stated: “A foreign ministry really has to function in a global community of the 21st century and this requires certain architecture, especially ICT. When you are operating a hundred offices around the world, communication becomes absolutely key – real time communication – when you are also dealing with sensitive information, the capacity to also maintain that confidentiality. And in all honesty, the infrastructure that is in place is certainly not 21st Century infrastructure.
“In the ministry, we don’t have direct linkage with our embassies around the world and even the most basic technology that will provide that is not even there. Even if we look at just within the ministry, the intranet system for communication has also become a real challenge.”
He urged the committee to address the challenge of poor funding for the ministry and decried the delay in the remittances to the country’s missions, adding that the minsitry is collaborating with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Ministry of Finance to find a solution to this perennial problem.
Onyema noted that some of the country’s missions were finding it extremely difficult to operate optimally due to late arrival of fund.
The minister told theommittee that the federal government could not implement the closure of some of its embassies and missions around the world in order to save cost because the cost of doing so would be absolutely prohibitive.
He said: “It is almost cheaper to keep them operating at a certain level. We have managed to close two or three but we can’t even afford to close a mission because as you are laying off the staff and the local staff, their entitlements and so many other costs are really prohibitive.
He explained that it does not speak well of the ambition of the country for Nigeria to be closing its missions.