There was a stir on social media today following the news reports of Nigeria’s plan to shut down more than eighty of its diplomatic missions.
What you need to know: Nigeria has about 109 Missions abroad. In most countries, we have just one mission, but in a few other countries, there’s more than one – like in the United States where Nigeria has four missions.
- The maintenance of these Missions constitute a huge chunk of the budget of the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs and in spite of this, most of them are unable to run effectively. From power outages to dilapidated sewage disposal systems, the Nigerian foreign missions are a subject of ridicule by many citizens.
Reporting out of context: Most of the media agencies that reported the story missed the context. At a hearing which held after the Senate investigation, the Foreign Ministry (MoFA) disclosed that most of the missions require bailouts but it could only afford to cover about 30 missions based on the funds approved by the Senate.
Insiders at the MoFA tell me that there are no such plans to close our missions.
- “Nigeria is not Cape Verde that we will have only about 30 Missions in the world,” one of them said.
- Nigeria cannot afford to close over 80 missions as missions are established on the basis of reciprocity. This means that if Nigeria decides to close 80 overseas missions, it would likely lead to the closure of the same amount of foreign missions in Nigeria.
Between Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari: The administration of Goodluck Jonathan created new Missions in Frankfurt, Lilongwe and Dubai. Opening new diplomatic frontiers was part of the foreign policy thrusts of his administration. Meanwhile, the Buhari administration has closed down our missions in Czech Republic and Serbia and downgraded those in Singapore and Ukraine.
Closing argument: Missions exist to promote both national interests as well as the interest of its citizens living in the foreign countries. Several other solutions have been proposed to address the dwindling fortunes of our missions and they could be considered. The issue of closing our missions – and definitely not up to 80 of them – should not be on the table.