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Reps Condemn Nigeria's Foreign Ministry Bloated Spending

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Nigeria's House of Representatives has expressed surprise at the annual expenditure of the country's foreign affairs ministry on school fees as it discovered that the ministry spends above approved sums.

The House committee on foreign affairs, headed by Nnena Elendu-Ukeje made the discovery on Thursday when ministries, departments and parastatals appeared before the committee for the annual budget defence to reconcile past spending and defend fresh proposals.

It was alleged that the federal government bankrolled the school fees of Nigerian diplomats' children abroad to the tune of N4.8 billion in 2011, an amount that has overshot approved allocation for the purpose, as the ministry is proposing to spend a relatively lower N5.2 million for the same purpose in the 2012 budget.

The committee's chairman, Nnena Elendu-Ukeje, who frowned at the inconsistency, said that ministry officials may have been presenting fees and making expenditures without proper details and names of beneficiaries, leading to alteration of approved figures and unilateral spending.

'You have put votes for security in four different places and that is the issue. You have four different sub-heads showing security votes. That is not acceptable.'

The ministry's security votes for 2012, according to the minister of foreign affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru, is less than N2 billion and proposes to spend another N2 billion on transport and travels.

'We travel to get the best. You need to get well-trained diplomats. Without training, you will not get good diplomats. Without training, there will be no results. We send some of them to Oxford, some to Italy as they will be competing with the best from the world.'

'For 2011, Nigeria paid N3.3 billion, equivalent of $16 million to the African Union, contributions to the United Nations was N300 million while N285 million was paid to the Commonwealth', the minister revealed.