Nigeria's Missions To Feel Anti-corruption War
It is another turn in the fight against corruption, as every sector must have to feel the heat of Muhammadu Buhari administration’s quest to recover Nigeria’s stolen funds.
This time, the fight is not just in Nigeria, but extended to the oil-rich nation’s foreign missions.
At Tuesday’s plenary in the House of Representatives, the House Committees on Foreign Relations and Public Procurement were given the responsibility of investigating allegations of corruption in some Nigerian Missions abroad.
The lawmakers believe the fight against corruption must sieve all sectors to ensure the administration’s efforts would not be called to question.
Members of the investigating team are to also come up with “measures to be devised to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians in the diaspora”.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to ensure that Nigerian Missions abroad provide counselling and support to Nigerians in times of need.
Lawmakers also urged the ministry to ensure that the missions operate a 24-hour helpline and desk for Nigerians in the diaspora.
The resolution came at the end of deliberations on a motion by two lawmakers, Rita Orji?? and Sergius Ogun on the “Need to Investigate the Activities and the Procurement Process of Nigerian Embassies/High Commissions to cut Costs and Fight Corruption”.
The lawmakers, while moving the motion, said: “Nigeria’s High Commissions and Embassies are administratively under the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as such have their individual budgets computed under the Ministry.
“All sums spent by the foreign missions are meant to be subjected by parliamentary oversight in the light of the fact that the spendings are provided for under the Appropriation Act passed by the National Assembly.
“Also note the allegations by Nigerians in the diaspora of acts of insensitivity, laxity, negligence and near outright maltreatment by consular staff of Nigerian Embassies and High Commissions across the world which inflict mental torture on them.
“The manifestations of these acts in the bureaucratic bottlenecks in the renewal of expired passports, extortion of money from those seeking assistance or redress and outright insensitivity to the plight of those in dire need .
“This has resulted in the abandonment in a mental home in Turin Italy of one Julie Osamese whose kidney was stolen and the death of Nwadike Stephen Chukwuemeka in a deportation camp in Malaysia, among others.”
The lawmakers said there was a need to investigate the activities of the High Commission and Embassies “including those payments approved and disbursed and the procurement processes being employed by the Embassies and High Commissions.
“The nation will continually be bled and the sincerity of the government’s war against corruption will be called to question,” they stressed.
A Nigerian's Experience
While the lawmakers are sieving the nation’s missions abroad, Bounce News found out there were a few initiatives implemented by embassies abroad to plug revenue leakages,
One of such, according to a Nigerian in Belgium is the mandate that any transaction with the embassy must be done with a credit card.
Joseph Dumbili, who had visited Nigeria’s embassy in Avenue de Tervuren 288, 1150 Bruxelles, Belgium, said the payment process had helped to check corruption, but he lamented that it also made procurement of passports for his children almost impossible since children do not have access to credit cards.
“They usually insist that the card must bear the name of the passport being requested for must carry. And that will mean I need to go to the embassy to begin to explain to them before I can get my children’s passport.
“I think the government should look at that area and see how they can make it a bit flexible for parents to be able to procure visa for their children,” he said.