Over 4,000 Nigerian students studying mainly medical related courses in Ukraine, are likely to receive reduced services from their home country’s embassy in Kiev, following Nigeria’s decision to drastically downsize its foreign mission in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria, reported Tuesday that Geoffrey Oniema, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the country would drastically cut down on its diplomatic mission in the former Soviet territory and close its missions in three other countries-Sri-lanka, Czech Republic and Serbia.
The Buhari administration has made closing Nigerian missions abroad part of its foreign affairs strategy in a bid to cut cost.
The administration has however been forced to weigh its options on what ministries to shutdown, due to the prohibitive cost of closing foreign missions.
“We should have foreign missions that we can fund, we might not necessarily close the embassies per say. it might be reducing the number of staff in the embassies, because what we found out is that it is more expensive to close the embassies than operating them,” Onyema said.
Mustafa Suleiman, Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Affairs ministry, had said during its budget defence to the Senate Committee on foreign Affairs in March that the N4.12 billion appropriated for capital expenses to the foreign missions could only cater for 30 out of the 110 foreign missions.
Onyema confirmed much of Suleiman’s assertions during the appropriation defence, while he was giving an account of the minstry’s activities in the last three years in Abuja yesterday.
“Very often the staff of the embassy really find things extremely difficult. Clearly, if we want to operate on the scale and scope in which we are at the moment with over a 100 missions around the world, we need to spend a lot more,” Onyema stated.
In July 2016, it was reported that President Muhammadu BUhari, had approved the closure of the Permanent Mission to the D-8 in Istanbul, Turkey; the Africa-South America Cooperation Forum (ASACOF) in Caracas, Venezuela; embassies in Belgrade, Serbia; Colombo, Srilanka; Kiev, Ukraine; Prague, Czech Republic; the High Commission in Singapore as well as Consulates in Buea, Cameroon and Sao Paulo in Brazil.
The federal government of Nigeria did not approve capital projects for 37 foreign missions in the 2018 budget namely; Amman, Jordan; Atlanta, USA; Bangui, Central Africa Republic; Bangkok, Thailand; Berne, Switzerland; Buea, Cameroon; Cairo, Egypt; Conakry, Republic of Guinea; Dakar, Senegal; Damascus, Syria; Doha, Qatar; Douala, Cameroon; Dubai Trade Missions, UAE; Islamabad, Pakistan; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Khartoum, Sudan; Kiev, Ukraine; Kualar Lumpur, Malasia; Lilongwe, Malawi; Lisbon, Portugal; Luanda, Angola; Madrid, Spain; Manila, Philippines; Monrovia, Liberia; New York (CG), USA; Niamey, Republic of Niger; Ouagadugu, Burkina Faso; Paris, France; Pyong Yang, North Korea; Rabat, Morocco; Riyadh, Saudi arabia; Rome, Italy; Shanghai, China; Stockholm, Sweden; The Hague, Netherlands; Tripoli, Libya; and Vienna, Austria.
The foreign mission in Colombo and Belgrade were not captured in the 2018 fiscal year.
In the Anglophone part of Cameroon where Buea is located, there have been clashes between forces calling for the creation of the state of Ambazonia.
Reports in the Cameroonian press say Nigerians have been cut in the melee. In Libya, in-fighting between a United Nations recognized government and a parallel regime have left the country largely unstable and put Nigerian migrants in grave danger.
Seeing as no capital provision was made for the embasies in these two countries, it is unclear how the Nigerian government has intervened to repatriate its citizens who are enveloped in these crisis.