A former Kaduna Central Senator, Shehu Sani, has underlined the need for an economic review of the dilapidated state of Nigerian Embassies abroad, to avoid colossal loss of foreign missions.
Sani, a former Deputy Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs in the eighth Senate, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.
He spoke in reaction to complaints about the dilapidated state of Nigerian embassies abroad and its economic consequences to the country on funding repairs of such missions.
He observed Nigeria had been renting about 60 per cent of the nation’s embassies abroad, saying such was costly in the face of ongoing challenges currently faced in the country.
“I found out that we have been renting about 60 per cent of Nigerian embassies abroad, some existed far back as 1960 and we are still unable to buy a house in those countries.
“From my observation, diplomatic staff have been fleecing this country in the name of paying rents; they prefer Nigeria to keep renting houses, rather than buying a building as an embassy.
“In the past, everything about the embassy is in the Foreign Affairs ministry, but during the era of Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Ambassadors go to the Minister of Finance for them to be funded.
“As such, it left the foreign affairs ministry with little or no choice on the embassy other than posting of diplomatic staff.
“Everything about the embassy should go back to the foreign affairs ministry; we should have targets, every year we should buy 10 buildings, so that in five to six years, we are no more renting.”
The former lawmaker decried the embarrassment often caused by landlords in relation to rent issues.
He stressed the need to buy more diplomatic houses and to take stock of repairs of dilapidated Nigerian embassy buildings abroad, as measures to proffer a solution to the problem.
“There are some buildings that we may not need; we have to trade them off and put those ones away.
“I learnt we have a residence for Nigeria’s permanent representatives in New York and that residence has not been used for decades.
“If that residence has not been used for decades, we have no reason to keep that building, we need to sell it off, use the proceeds and buy other properties in other countries.”
He noted that buying good diplomatic buildings could cost as much as US$2 million, adding that such should be done to chart the way forward to safeguard Nigerian embassy operations abroad.
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