30th January, 2022
By Fortune Abang
Sen. Shehu Sani, former Kaduna Central Senator, has underscored the need for an economic review of the dilapidated state of Nigerian Embassies abroad, to avoid colossal loss of foreign missions.
He made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
According to him, about 60% of Nigerian embassies around the world are sub-let or on rent.
Being a former Deputy Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs in the eighth Senate, Sani decried the dilapidated state of these embassies and the economic consequences of funding repairs of such missions.
“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 staffs 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.”
Particularly, the embarrassment often caused by landlords concerning rent issues was disheartening to the senator.
To him, the solution to such problems is that Nigeria should buy more diplomatic houses and take stock of repairs of dilapidated embassy buildings abroad.
“There are some buildings that we may not need; we have to trade them off and put those 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.”
However, he noted that buying good diplomatic buildings could cost as much as the US$2 million, adding that such should be done to chart the way forward to safeguard Nigerian embassy operations abroad.