In a concerning development, 109 Nigerian Diplomatic Missions around the globe are currently facing severe financial challenges. The root cause of this crisis is the Federal Government’s failure to disburse their overhead allocation for the second quarter of the year, a disbursement that was due since June.
These missions, comprising 97 Embassies and 12 Consulates, are now struggling to meet their financial obligations to their staff members and local contractors.
Sources from within some of these embassies have disclosed that mounting financial pressures are taking a toll. Unpaid bills for essential services like electricity, water, and sanitation are piling up, jeopardizing the functioning of these missions.
Reports indicate that staff members stationed in Europe, Asia, and other regions are sending distress signals to their counterparts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters in Abuja. The situation has escalated to the point where some diplomats face the threat of eviction from their rented accommodations.
One Foreign Service officer (FSO) revealed that the Federal Government has yet to release the capital vote for his mission. This has placed staff members in precarious situations, as they risk eviction due to unpaid rents. Some missions have opted to provide funds directly to their staff for rent and children’s tuition fees, but this crucial support has been delayed due to the government’s failure to disburse the funds.
The FSO, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, explained the challenges, saying, “Staff accommodation rent and their children’s tuition were meant to be paid from the overhead vote, but this has not been done because the government has failed to release the money.” He further revealed that some staff members had to borrow money from friends and family in Nigeria to avoid eviction, as they had already issued post-dated rent cheques.
Furthermore, it has come to light that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) released $270,000 for personnel overhead to a mission in Asia for the period from January to June. However, the mission received only $164,000 for the second half of the year, representing a 41% reduction. The reasons for this shortfall have not been officially disclosed, but speculation suggests it may be linked to exchange rate fluctuations.
An official from the ministry expressed concerns about the inadequacy of funding for Nigerian Missions, stating, “The truth remains that Nigerian Missions are not properly funded, but even the gross inadequate funds provided in the 2023 Budget are now affected by the new exchange rate policy of floating the naira introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
This crisis has significant implications for the financial well-being and reputation of Nigerian diplomatic missions. With insufficient funds, embassies and consulates abroad may struggle to pay salaries, entitlements, and obligations to locally recruited staff members and contractors. Additionally, they may face difficulties in covering rent, school fees for staff members’ children, as well as utility bills such as electricity, water, telephone, and security.
In response to the inadequate overhead allocation, some missions have been forced to allocate personnel funds towards staff accommodation and education costs, further exacerbating their financial strain.
The situation calls for urgent attention and action from the Nigerian government to prevent further financial embarrassment to its diplomatic missions and protect the country’s image on the international stage.