Presidential candidate of Nigeria's leading opposition All Progressive Congress, Mohammadu Buhari, meets with US Secretary of State at the US Consulate in Lagos January 25, 2015. US Secretary of State John Kerry said today that peaceful and timely elections were vital in Nigeria, where the country is battling a deadly insurgency by Boko Haram. AFP PHOTO / POOL / AKINTUNDE AKINLEYE

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that his administration will undertake a review of Nigerian foreign missions to close non essential ones.
Speaking after being briefed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bulus Lolo, President Buhari said that a Presidential Committee will soon be established to carry out the review.
The President said that the review will determine the number of essential missions Nigeria needs to maintain abroad so that appropriate standards and quality can be maintained.
The President said that there was no point in Nigeria operating missions all over the world “with dilapidated facilities and demoralized staff” when the need for some of the missions was questionable.
“Let’s keep only what we can manage. We can’t afford much for now. There’s no point in pretending,” President Buhari told Ambassador Lolo and other officials of the ministry of foreign affairs.
The President 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,” the President said.
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.
Speaking to State House Correspondents after the meeting, the permanent secretary said: “Mr. President asked the Ministry to be realistic in terms of our representation abroad.
“We have 119 Missions. He asked the questions whether we needed to have that number or we can rationalise based on our capacity.
“Right now, the economy is looking down. We are trying to revive and revamp. It is a matter of time.
“The specific directive that he has given is that a committee be formed to look at the whole issue of our representation abroad, the size and the number of missions on whether or not the number should remain the same or we do something about those numbers.”
On the likely diplomatic consequence of such an action, Ambassador Lolo stated that it was a matter of the country’s interest and the resources available.
He added that no time frame was given for the completion of the committee’s assignment, stating however that, the soon the job is done, the better.
“It is a function of interest and capacity. I believe what the President was saying to us is that we should cut our coat according to our material, and not according to our size,” the Perm Sec submitted.
Ambassador Lolo also stated that the objective principles of the country’s foreign policy were still relevant and sound.
He noted, however, that what needed to be changed are the peculiarities that any administration brings to bear on governance as its overriding priorities.
He pointed out, accordingly, that a review of the nation’s foreign policy might be necessary in order to align it with the policy thrust of the Buhari administration on security, economy and fight against corruption.
“The last comprehensive report was done in 1986, next year, it will be 30 years and I believe that even in the life of a child, you look back and ask, are you going in the right direction?
“The fundamentals of our foreign policy as defined by the objective principles are not only sound but relevant. What changes is the nuance that governments and regimes bring from time to time.
“We are now looking at them and crystalizing the priority of the present administration that has articulated security, the economy and the fight against corruption.
“All these will be important to our ministry and the mission abroad to take outside and explain to the rest of the world,” he said.

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