The Nigerian government has announced that it would be closing down at least 5 of its embassies and foreign missions in the coming months.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyema told journalists at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday that the process for closure was underway and his ministry was waiting for the approval of the president. NAN reports that the minister however, did not disclose the names of the affected embassies.
“We do not want to indicate the embassies that will be closed yet because we are in the process of submitting the proposals, the cost analysis and also the political analysis we did to the president.
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“When he sees that, he may or may not want to close some, so we have not yet reached the stage of closing some,” the minister said.
Mr. Onyema said his ministry had taken the decision to shut down the embassies even though the closure may prove expensive in the immediate term.
“The expense of closing embassies is so high and prohibitive but in the long run it will be more economical.”
Citing the mounting cost of running its foreign missions, the minister had earlier in April intimated the press about the government’s decision to cut down on the number of embassies it maintained abroad.
Describing the proposed closure as inevitable, Onyeama said the reduction of Nigeria’s foreign missions remains on the agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Nigeria currently has 119 foreign missions and NAN reports that, Mr. Buhari had said at the inception of his administration that the Federal Government would reduce the number of its foreign missions to save cost.
Mr. Onyeama said on Thursday that: “The government is following up on that and we have sort of prepared the roadmap; we have started the implementation of that and made also recommendations in that context.
“Paradoxically, closing missions is extremely expensive. At first sight it seems obvious that you close it you are saving cost but you will actually find that the cost of closing is almost prohibitive.
“But in the long run it will be cheaper, but in the immediate and short term it is expensive but we have started the process,” he said.
Falling oil prices and sporadic attacks by militants on major oil installation in Nigeria’s oil producing region have combined to throw the country into its worst economic recession in decades.