Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Onyema has said the landlord of the building where the Nigerian embassy in Hungary is located is threatening to evict the embassy over unpaid rent.
The Minister said due to the cash crunch, moving officers, ambassadors, and their families have become one of the biggest problems the ministry has had to deal with.
Addressing the House of Representatives in defence of his ministry’s budget for 2021, Onyema said Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs needs around N5.3 billion to run efficiently.
Inadequate budgetary provisions for foreign missions’ overheads results in a lot of debt on electricity and rent, the Minister averred.
“Just on Monday, the ambassador in Hungary called to say they are going to throw them out from the chancery building. That the landlord is coming and that they do not have the money to pay,” the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quoted him as saying.
“And we get that from a lot of missions across the world, and that is not a sustainable way of running Foreign Service. Then this exchange rate differential with the CBN is really something we need to address once and for all.”
He further explained that because these bills are budgeted in naira, fluctuation in the exchange rate affects the budget. This means an immediate shortfall in overheads of Nigerian missions.
The Minister also stated that the federal government is making plans to reduce the number of international organizations to which Nigeria belongs over the scarcity of funds.
“A lot of our missions are eyesores and it is just a huge embarrassment to the country that we can have missions in such terrible conditions. We have been receiving letters from the National Assembly, forwarding to us various claims and judgment and asking us to pay them.”
Onyema also pointed out that apart from the issue of rent, the ministry was also short of N500 million to complete an N1.2 billion clothing allowance budget for officers.
The federal government is, meanwhile, considering a review of Nigerian embassy operations across the world.