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DIPLOMATIC PASSPORT: I’ll Deal With Ex-Officials –Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari Asks For A List Of Ex-Government Officials Who Are Still Using Diplomatic Passports While Hinting On Closure Of Some Foreign Missions

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday vowed to deal with former government officials who are still using Nigeria’s diplomatic passports.

The President, who stated this when he met with officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led by the Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Paul Bulus Lolo, directed the Ministry to furnish him with the record of former government officials, and other persons, still using diplomatic and official passports illegally. He vowed that his administration would take necessary action against them.

“Something has to be done so that we can get back our respectability as a country. Some people carry official passports and get involved in all sorts of negative acts. We need to do something about it,” the President said.

The President Muhammadu Buhari also said his administration would undertake a review of Nigeria’s foreign missions to determine those that were necessary. Ambassador Lolo had briefed the President on the state of affairs of the Ministry in line with ongoing efforts of the President to have a full understanding of the state of affairs of government establishments.

After the briefing, President Buhari assured that a Presidential Committee would soon be established to carry out the review. The President said that the review would determine the number of essential missions Nigeria needed to maintain abroad so that appropriate standards and quality could be maintained.

The President said that there was no point in Nigeria operating missions all over the world “with dilapidated facilities and demoralized staff” when the need for some of the missions was questionable.
crude “Let us keep only what we can manage. We can’t afford much for now.

There’s no point in pretending”, President Buhari told Ambassador Lolo and other officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Lolo had told President Buhari that the challenges facing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs included the absence of a Foreign Service Commission, poor funding of foreign missions, policy inconsistency and training deficiencies, among others.

“I underline the fact that the activities of the ministries are largely outside the country. 75 per cent outside the country and 25 per cent domestic. Though we do 25 percent of our work at home, foreign policy derives from domestic policy; there is a close nexus between the country’s domestic and foreign policy.

“Our activities are handled by our missions abroad because the Ministry’s functions cover relations of country’s formulations and management of Nigeria’s foreign policy, getting and managing relations with other countries and all of these now crystallize into what opportunities there are and challenges.

“In the course of the briefing, I took Mr. President through the structure of the Ministry, mentioned the parastatals that are supervised by the Ministry, talked about the personnel of the Ministry and you know the bulk of them have the ambition of becoming ambassadors and we also talked about the state of our embassies abroad.

All of these in the context of what Nigeria aspires to be at home, in the sub
region, in the continent and around the globe,” Lolo told newsmen.

Speaking further on the need to review Nigeria’s foreign policy, Ambassador Lolo lamented that the last foreign policy review was done about 30 years ago, in 1986. “The last comprehensive report was done in 1986.

Next year, it will be 30 years and I believe that even in the life of a child, you look back and ask, are you going in the right direction? “The fundamentals of our foreign policy as defined by the objective of principles are not only sound but relevant. “What changes is the nuance that governments and regimes bring from time to time.

I took him through the themes of different regimes and evolution of government policy starting with 1975 when the slogan was “Africa has come of age. “President, when he was in power 1983-1985, came up with the concentric circle concept.

General Babangida as President from 1985 until he stepped outside came with two things: Concept of medium powers as well as economic diplomacy.

“Then under the late (President Umaru) Yar’Adua, we dealt with citizen diplomacy and the last regime came with transformation agenda.

“We are now looking at them and crystallizing the priority of the present administration that has articulated security, the economy and the fight against corruption.

All these will be important to our ministry and the mission abroad to take outside and explain to the rest of the world,” he said.

– Tony Ailemen, Abuja

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