Given the economic recession biting deep into the country’s pockets, President Buhari has urged the recently approved Ambassadors ‘to do more with less’ as they utilize the much-reduced funding they are likely to expect in the coming year.
Already, the President had approved some 4 changes which are geared at increasing the efficiency of the foreign missions and reducing the costs incurred while running them. These changes include the closure of nine foreign missions and their conversion to non-residency representation or concurrent accreditation.
He also approved the reduction of the number of officers at foreign missions, stopped posting staff of home ministries to foreign missions and approved the training of Foreign Service officers to carry out multiple tasks, including administration, immigration, trade, culture and education related functions.
Stating the obvious reason for these changes, Sun News quotes the President as saying ‘We are optimistic that the external factors that partly contributed to push our economy into recession will ebb in 2017. Until then, I regret that the resources available to fund our missions abroad will not be as robust as we would like… These are lean times, and all of us are expected to do more with less.’
While approving these cost cutting measures, the President emphasized that the ‘more’ the Ambassadors would have to do involved improving the image of the country already marred by the Boko Haram menace, corruption and other vices almost exclusively associated with Nigeria.
“For far too long, we have allowed Nigeria to be defined by others, always emphasising our negatives. To the average foreigner, Nigeria evokes 419, terrorism, militancy, communal and religious clashes, insecurity, corruption and all our other faults.
“You have the duty to correct this narrative by taking the initiative to define and portray our country for what it truly is…you will need to mobilise, sensitise and motivate all your staff so that together you engage with your host governments, the private sector and other segments of the society to explain that Nigeria is much more than the negative image portrayed to them.”