… Vows To Deal With Illegal Holders Of Diplomatic, Official Passport
By Sadiq Umar, Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prune down the numbers of Nigerian foreign Missions to ensure effective, saying the current realities of the nation’s revenue profile does not encourage large missions abroad.
Even as he vowed to come hard on former public office-holders who are now illegal holders of diplomatic and official passports.
Buhari said there was no point in Nigeria operating missions across the world when it can not properly fund and maintain them.
“Let’s keep only what we can manage. We can’t afford much for now. There’s no point in pretending,” President Buhari said Tuesday after being briefed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bulus Lolo.
The President said a review of the current size of Nigeria’s mission abroad is necessary to will determine the number of essential missions Nigeria needs to maintain abroad so that appropriate standards and quality can be achieved.
He also called for the record of former government officials and other persons still using diplomatic and official passports illegally, saying that his administration will take necessary action against them.
“Something has to be done so that we can get back our respectability as a country. Some people carry official passports and get involved in all sorts of negative acts. We need to do something about it,” Buhari said.
Earlier, the Federal Government had on August 24 directed the Immigration Service to retrieve all valid diplomatic and official passports from all persons not entitled to hold such documents.
Only yesterday, the Comptroller-General of the Immigration Service, Martin Abeshi, restated governments resolve to clamp down on illegal holders of such passports.
“These categories of persons are hereby informed that these passports which were previously held by them have been revoked and should return them to the Nigeria Immigration Service Headquarters Sauka Abuja with immediate effect,” Abeshi said on Monday.
Adding that “failure to comply with this directive will amount to an offence under the Immigration Act 2015. Such unauthorized possession will be impounded at our control posts on arrival or departure.”
The categories of officials affected by the directive are former governors, former ministers, former senators, former members of the House of Representatives, and former members of state Houses of Assembly.
Others are former commissioners, former special advisers/special assistants, former chairmen/deputy chairmen of local government areas, all retired heads of parastatals and retired public servants.
Ambassador Lolo told President Buhari that the challenges facing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs included the absence of a Foreign Service Commission, poor funding of foreign missions, policy inconsistencies and training deficiencies, among others.