Nigeria is underfunding its missions abroad, and the funding deficit is negatively impacting the nation’s foreign policy and diplomatic interests, according to a review of government budgets and analyses of the situation by experts.
In the last five years, Nigeria budgeted less than N200 billion for its foreign missions, representing a paltry 0.5 per cent of all its budgetary proposals of ₦43.98 trillion in that period.
Poor funding has seen the nation unable to meet some diplomatic obligations as routine as keeping up with the rent at the Nigerian embassy in Hungary. It has also affected the welfare of Nigerians abroad, officials say.
In November, when the House committee on foreign affairs chairman, Yusuf Yakubu, faulted Nigeria’s lukewarm attitude towards the maltreatment of Nigerians abroad, foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, blamed it on the poor funding of foreign missions.
Mr Onyeama lamented how foreign missions were becoming a “terrible embarrassment” for the country at the global stage as small budgetary allocations are affecting their effectiveness in responding to the expansive structure of diplomatic services.
“For the size of a country, the giant Africa, we are supposed to defend the interest of Africa and the black race around the world,” Mr Onyeama said.
“We have a vast network of technical assistance programmes to the pacific, to the Caribbean and to other Africa countries, and we want to be a big player, which sits at the table as one of the countries running the world, and to be able to do that, we just need many resources.
“Nigeria cannot get its international image to fit into the acceptable module of the international community, if its foreign missions remain underfunded,” the Foreign Affairs minister said.
While Nigeria maintains missions in almost all corners of the world, some of its most expensive missions remain in Europe, the Americas and some parts of Asia– with the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, Canada and Japan topping the list of Nigeria’s most expensive missions.