NIGERIA’S federal government has announced plans to review the operations of some of its embassies as part of a rationalisation programme made necessary as a result of the need to cut the cost of governance in response to the coronavirus economic crisis.
Following the economic lockdown brought about as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Nigeria’s finances have been hit hard. Both crude oil purchases and prices have plummeted and with about 95% of government revenue coming from the sale of petroleum products, the government will find it hard to finance its 2020 budget of $28.8bn.
This has resulted in the need to slash public spending and one of the areas the government is looking at is its foreign missions and Technical Aid Corps (Tac) scheme. Foreign minister Geoffery Onyeama, said that although the government had earlier considered the closure of some of its embassies, they are now to be rationalised rather than closed.
Mr Onyeama said: “I wouldn’t say the resources have improved but yes we are in a process of trying to rationalise. What we have discovered is that the process is actually more expensive closing down an embassy than to actually keep it going.
“The cost is huge to close down, so, we had to revisit it. When you put into balance our interest in having presence in countries around the world to promote our economy, security and other vital national interests and our budgetary realities and limitations, we are looking at just rationalising those embassies rather than outright closure.
“Having a lot of smart missions. We feel that would be more cost effective than outright closure.”
On the sustenance of the Tac scheme, the minister noted that the government was equally examining its funding of the programme. He added that the scheme is a laudable sacrifice by the Nigerian government, which will be sustained as much as possible.
“Hopefully, we will be able to sustain it because it is a sacrifice on our part but the host countries also contribute through accommodation. We will have a review and if we need to downsize it slightly because of budgetary reasons we will but the principle is a good one and it is something we have no intention of completely stopping,” Mr Onyeama said.