The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila on Tuesday declared open A Two-day Public Hearing on “Incessant Malpractices Associated with Diplomatic Postings in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs among other things have the responsibility of designing and framing the way the world sees Nigeria, hence all efforts should be made to ensure there is no tragedy.
In his welcome address, Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub, Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, warmed against any form of shady deal that will damage the image of Nigeria.
“Your Excellency, Mr Speaker, Honourable colleagues, Honourable Ministers, the Permanent Secretary, members of the fourth estate of the realm, ladies and gentlemen; let me, on behalf of members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House, welcome you all to the occasion of this Public Hearing.
“You will recall, Your Excellency, Honourable Colleagues that, following a Motion presented on the floor of the House on Wednesday, November 25th last year, the House graciously mandated this Committee to investigate what was captured as the “Incessant Malpractices Associated with Diplomatic Postings and Deliberate Draining of Resources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
“It is, however, in the wisdom of this Committee that we appended the words: “and the Foreign Missions.” This was done in the thinking that, in spite of the fact that our Foreign Missions remain a part and parcel of the Ministry, we must succinctly spell out the necessity to look deeply into activities that take place outside the Headquarters, if we must comprehensively succeed in the task at hand.
“As can be seen from everything we have done so far, the task we
were given in November last year, no thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant fallout, has in the last few months suffered hiccups that brought about undue delays. I wish to, therefore, publicly thank Mr Speaker, the leadership and members of the House, who graciously at every point in the build-up to this exercise conveyed to us their understanding of the prevailing situation and circumstances in our socio-political space and the cooperation we needed to come thus far.
“I also wish to appreciate the leadership and management of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their cooperation in helping the Committee to address the alleged wrongs that we are seeking to right,” Yakub said.
He said “As a Committee, the mandate given to us by the House is quite understandable and unambiguous. We have, in line with that mandate and the provisions of our ground norm, that is the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999, as Amended) in Sections 62(88 and 89) and 89 (C and D), been empowered to summon anyone in our nation to give evidence, request for material documents and carry out any form of investigations. What we seek to achieve in this exercise is in tandem with the vision of the Buhari Administration as well as the Legislative Agenda of Speaker Gbajabiamila in the 9th House of Representatives, that there must be zero- tolerance to corruption in all its facets.
“Your Excellency, Honourable colleagues, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, with your cooperation and resolute steadfastness in the affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is my firm conviction that we will certainly be able to re-enact the glory days of this all- important Ministry. As I have said in many public fora, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs remains the first mirror through which the entire world sees our nation. So, whatever happens to it must be of concern to all of us. We must, therefore, resolve to work together to achieve the Foreign Service of our fondest dreams; and the time to do this, for me, personally, is today.
“The opportunity for the success we desire stares us in the face today and what we do with it is left for us and our nation to relish or regret in future years. I call on us, therefore, to resolve to use the coin in our hands today wisely in order to beget a greater tomorrow in our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Foreign Service. We can do the foregoing by choosing to be open in our presentations here today and by being truthful in our various accounts and submissions in all that we need to know and impassionate address for the good of our nation. I also call on us all to be straightforward in answering questions that are posed to you and to demonstrate clarity in your expressions. That way, the task before us will not only be easier to achieve, but will also be highly productive at the end of this all.
“Once again, Your Excellency, Honourable colleagues, distinguished Nigerians across the world; I welcome you all again to today’s session and invite you to feel at home in the cosy atmosphere and comfort of our Parliament to chart the way forward for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our Foreign Missions.
“I thank you all for listening. God bless you all”
During deliberations, many Nigerians on Diaspora complained against extortion at embassies and high commissions, delay in issuance of passports and traveling documents.
One of the complainants from USA whose name was given as Babajide said it is unfortunate that it took over two months to process traveling documents (passport) that ordinarily should have been processed within one or two weeks.
Another petitioner who gave his name as Gabriel from Canada claimed over 500 persons signed petitions against what is going on in Nigerian Foreign Missions.
The committee questions the rationale behind the production of passport booklet, a security printing in the foregin nation as well as allowing private individuals to produce it outside the country when the country has minting and printing mainly for security printing
Meanwhile, The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, Comptroller General, Nigerian Immigration Service, Muhammed Babandede and others attended the public hearing.