Foreign Missions: Senate Queries Minister Over Poor Funding
BEVERLY HILLS, March 04, (THEWILL) - The Senate Committee on Foreign affairs has queried the supervising Minister for Foreign Affairs, Professor Viola Onwuliri, over poor funding of the country 's foreign missions abroad.
The senators accused the Foreign Affairs Ministry of not doing enough to secure funding for the 119 foreign missions since the main ministry's funds were released 100 percent in 2013.
This was the major issue of discussion when the supervising Minister of Foreign Minister, appeared before the Senate Committee on Foreign affairs to defend the Ministry's 2014 budget on Tuesday.
However, the minister absolved her ministry from the blame claiming that her ministry does not handle the finances of the foreign missions but the Ministry of Finance.
According to her, in 2013 only 42 per cent of the capital vote allocated to the 119 foreign missions was released to them by the Finance Ministry.
She further explained that the Federal government has paid off N10 billion out of the N13 billion debts being owed by the foreign mission which was accumulated over years as a result of poor funding.
"We are not in charge of their finances, Ministry of Finance funds them directly.
You help us talk to Finance Ministry to release their funds, there is nothing we can do," she said.
On the detention of over 80 Nigerian students in Malaysia over visa-related issue, the committee mandated the minister to intervene in the matter and secure the release of the Nigerians.
The Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma- Egba, also pleaded with the Foreign Ministry to ensure protection of Nigerian students in crisis-torn Ukraine.
EMMA UCHE, ABUJA