Buba Lauds 2022 Appropriations Act

*Says New Law Granting Nigerian Ambassadors at Post Powers to Spend Capital Allocations Appropriated to Embassies Without Recourse to Approval by Ministry Headquarters Will Make for Greater Development in Foreign Missions 
*Ranks Current House High on Performance and “Legislative Diplomacy”
Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rt.Hon.( Dr.) Yusuf Buba Yakub has commended the 2022 Appropriations Act for empowering Nigerian Ambassadors at the post to spend funds appropriated as Capital Allocations in their Missions without seeking the extra approval of the Ministry headquarters in Abuja. While noting that the powers granted the Foreign Missions in the Act recently signed by Mr President will, among other positive ends, ensure that bureaucratic bottlenecks that impede development at the Missions are removed, the lawmaker added that the new reform would make for quality progress in the activities of the nation’s foreign service.
Speaking during an interactive session with National Assembly correspondents in Abuja, Thursday, the lawmaker, who said that monies the National Assembly, usually, appropriates directly for the nation’s Missions abroad as Capital Expenditure is meant for use for the procurement of official vehicles, buying and renovation of Embassy buildings, effecting repairs on dilapidated or decayed infrastructure as well as carrying out other projects captured under the capital component in the fiscal documents of each year, decried a situation where such projects are not, usually, undertaken for far too long as a result of the delay in approval from Nigeria.
” The National Assembly appropriates monies directly to the  Foreign Missions, but before they spend the Capital Component of these monies, they have to come back to Nigeria to get approval. And most of the time, there is too much delay.  Sometimes, you would see Embassies, those that have money in their Capital Accounts, for two years, three years, they can’t utilize such funds because of these delays. So, the new Act has graciously given Embassies powers to spend their Capital Expenditure without seeking approval from Headquarters.
“That makes it easier for them…, if, for instance, there is a storm and the roof of the Embassy building is blown off. Before now, the Ambassador would have to wait for approval from Nigeria before he could repair that roof. But with these powers given by the National Assembly in the 2022 Appropriations Act, the Ambassador can make approvals for the repair of that building without waiting for two weeks, one year, two years for approval before he can do that,”Buba explained.
As part of efforts geared towards addressing the challenges the Committee on Foreign Affairs met at the Ministry when its members were appointed some two years ago, the Gobi/ Hong Rep said many parts of the rot identified in the system has been cleared. He specifically itemized the generally poor state of infrastructure and equipment at the Ministry headquarters, high debt profile and the incessant malpractices associated with the posting of foreign service officers as part of the damning challenges that attracted the immediate concern of the Committee and the House of Representatives in general when the current House was inaugurated. In addition to the above, the entrepreneur-turned-lawmaker, also added that the semester system for cash-backing appropriated funds at the nation’s Foreign Missions was also adopted as part of the many reforms of Mr President. He said all of these were carefully aimed at repositioning the Ministry and the Foreign Missions in line with global best practices and the Foreign Policy of the Buhari Administration.
Of particular importance in the achievements of the Committee in the year just gone by, Buba said, was the effort at repositioning the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs ( NIIA) for greater relevance in the service of our country in the years ahead. In addition to that was the hosting of a major Conference on the review of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy. The lawmaker said, following a Bill he personally sponsored, which has reached an advance stage towards becoming a piece of legislation at the National Assembly, the NIIA will be upgraded to not only broaden the current scope of its operations but to also award academic certificates in the specialized areas of Diplomacy, Democracy and Foreign Affairs in general. The Conference for the review of the nation’s Foreign Policy, he further informed, was receiving the legislative inputs of members of the Green Chambers of the National Assembly. This, he said, was to make for greater impacts on our how to better reposition our nation in dealing with other parts of the globe and for greater respect for our country in the comity of nations.
While cataloguing the impacts made by what he termed “Legislative Diplomacy”, which is being furthered in the last two years by the Committee alongside the leadership of the House of Representatives led by  His Excellency, Rt.Hon.Femi Hakeem Gbajabiamila, CFR, Speaker, House of Representatives, Buba said the results of wading into the diplomatic row between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates ( UAE), the recurring maltreatment of Nigerians living in Ghana, including the infamous incursion into the premises of the Nigeria High Commission in Accra, Ghana, by a private Ghanaian company early last year, the xenophobic attacks in South Africa as well as the smear campaign carried out against a former Nigerian Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon rtd, by a Member of the British Parliament, have all become a big plus that has signposted the degree of performance of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Rep. Gbajabiamila led 9th House of Representatives in the immediate past year. The above, the lawmaker added, was to say nothing of the several oversight visits to the nation’s Missions abroad, the enhanced image of Nigerians in the global community and the Committee’s interventions in improving services for Nigerians in the Diaspora and visitors to our country, especially in the areas of Consular services and passport renewal by Nigerians abroad.
 *Nkem Anyata-Lafia* 
Special Adviser to the Lawmaker on Media and Public Affairs.

Thursday, 20th January 2022

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