By Ifeanyi Nwoko
The Nigerian Government said it plans to review the operations of some of its embassies abroad as well as the Technical Aid Corps (TAC) scheme.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama, disclosed this when he featured as the special guest on News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.
Onyeama said that the review became necessary due to the dwindling resources of the country and the harsh socio-economic realities, occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, although government had earlier considered closure of some of its embassies, the embassies are now to be rationalised rather than closed.
“I wouldn’t say the resources have improved, but yes we are in a process of trying to rationalise.
“What we have discovered is that the process is actually more expensive closing down an embassy than to actually keep it going.
“The cost is huge to close down, so, we had to revisit it.
“When you put into a balance our interest in having presence in countries around the world to promote our economy, security and other vital national interests and our budgetary realities and limitations, we are looking at just rationalising those embassies rather than outright closure – having a lot of smart missions.
“We feel that would be more cost effective than outright closure,” he said.
On the sustenance of the Technical Aid Corps scheme, the minister noted that government was equally examining its funding of the scheme.
According to him, the scheme is a laudable sacrifice by the Nigerian government, which will be sustained as much as possible.
“Hopefully, we will be able to sustain it because it is a sacrifice on our part; but the host countries also contribute through accommodation.
“We will have a review and if we need to downsize it slightly because of budgetary reasons we will.
“But the principle is a good one and it is something we have no intention of completely stopping,” Onyeama said.