*HOUSE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND MEMBERS OF THE ASSOCIATION OF RETIRED CAREER AMBASSADORS OF NIGERIA (ARCAN) MEET IN ABUJA, AGREE TO* *COLLABORATE IN THE PURSUIT OF NIGERIA’S FOREIGN POLICY OBJECTIVES*
House Committee on Foreign Affairs and members of the Association of Retired Career Ambassadors of Nigeria ( ARCAN) met in Abuja on Monday,December 16,2019, when the latter paid a courtesy call on the Chairman of the former ,Rt. Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub at the National Assembly Complex.
During the meeting, which took place in one of the Meeting Rooms at the Green Chambers of the National Assembly Complex, they parties observed that the nation’s Foreign Missions are the windows through which the global community sees Nigeria and that the Missions as they exist now cannot, adequately, promote and positively project the image of our nation in the comity of nations.
Consequent upon the above,they parties agreed to collaborate to set the needed pace for the revival of the nation’s once glorious Foreign Service.;while observing that there was an urgent need for a Presidential Intervention and sweeping reforms in the affairs of the nation’s Foreign Missions. This,they said,has become imperative in order to strengthen the capacity of the Missions and their staff to deliver on the Foreign Policy Objectives and Goals of the Nigerian State and to evolve a Foreign Service that will not only move with the times,but keep pace with international best practices in the field of diplomacy.
Speaking at the event ,Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Member representing Gombi/ Hong Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives,Rt. Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub,expressed disappointment at what he met on ground during his recent,self-sponsored visit to over ten Nigerian Missions and Embassies in America and parts of Europe.
The lawmaker, who said he was ,particularly, saddened by some of the realities he unearthed in the course of his personal investigations during the journey he undertook, wondered why things in the Foreign Missions were allowed to degenerate to the level where Missions cannot pay utility bills,rents,property taxes,let alone buy or maintain vehicles and properties owned by our country abroad. He said it was the seriousness of the situation he met on ground that prompted the House to bend its rules and called for the presentation of his Report for consideration on a later date.
Rt. Hon. Buba,again,used the occasion to call for the operation of Smart Missions abroad and for increased funding for the Missions,;especially, in the area of capital budgetary allocation, which,he observed, has not been seen in many of the Missions in years. While calling for the support of the members of ARCAN,the Adamawa- born lawmaker and entrepreneur said their experience would in no small way help to further action in the planned Retreat of the Committee scheduled for early next year for stakeholders to bare their minds on how to move the nation’ s Foreign Missions forward.
Earlier,while thanking Rt. Hon. Buba for the audience he gave to the group at short notice and for the passion he has continued to demonstrate since he was appointed Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House, President of ARCAN,H.E Amb.John K.Shinkaiye,said they shared similar passion, which has ensured their constant desire to interact and interface with critical stakeholders in the nation’s Foreign Service many years after most of them had retired from office,with each of their members having put in between thirty and forty years in active service in several Missions. He used the occasion to pledge the support of the over 200- member strong Association for the Committee, insisting that they would not allow the nation’s Foreign Service,to which they gave the best part of their youthful energy and zest, come into disrepute for not being able to pay bills,school fees of staff’s wards and rents,which brings disgrace to our country.
Amb.Shinkaiye,who also used the occasion to present a book written by one of their members to Rt. Hon.Buba, said they would wait for the House to consider Buba’ s Report. He re-iterated the need for a Presidential Intervention,which,from experience, he said was the fastest way to get the Missions on their feet again. He used the opportunity to also support some of the ideas highlighted in their discussions,like the issues of two budgets, a national and a statutory one for the Foreign Missions,at least 1.5% of total national budget to be dedicated to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, quick monthly releases of allocation to Missions, denominating Missions’ budgets in dollars as well as a 100% release of yearly budgetary allocations to the Missions; all of which,,he stressed, must form part of the proposed reforms at the Missions if they must function optimally.
Among those who were part of the visit were mainly the National Executive members of the group. These include:
Amb.Katyen C. Jackden,mni- General Secretary; Amb.Azuka Uzoka-Emejulu,mni – Treasurer; Amb. Christy Mbonu,mni- Financial Secretary; Amb. F.O.V Otukoya,OFR,JP- Publicity Secretary as well as Amb.Martine Gereng Sen,Welfare Officer. Others are Amb.L.K Iyanda- Legal Officer;Amb.T.D Hart;Amb.Enny Onobu and Amb. Suleiman Dahiru,OFR.
SA ( Media & Public Affairs) to Rt. Hon.Buba.