The federal government on Thursday said plans are underway to shut down five of its foreign missions and embassies as part of measures at achieving greater efficiency.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, gave this suggestion in Abuja during a briefing with pressmen on the achievements of the ministry in the past two years.
Although he did not mention the embassies or missions, the minister said the process for closure was underway and was also subject to the approval of the president.
According to him, the affected missions have already been identified and process of winding them down would commence if the president gives the go-ahead.
Onyeama said, “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.”
“When he sees that, he may or may not want to close some, so we have not yet reached the stage of closing some,” he added, even as he also reiterated that the closing missions abroad were “extremely expensive.”
“The expense, costs of closing embassies is so high and prohibitive but in the long run it will be more economical”, he explained.
The minister who had last month said the closure of Nigerian missions abroad was inevitable admitted that it was expensive to close a country’s embassy.
Onyeama stressed that the reduction of Nigeria’s foreign missions remained on the agenda of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
On assumption of office, President Buhari had said that the federal government will reduce the number of missions to save cost.
“The government is following up on that and we have sort of prepared the road map. 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 if 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 added.
Currently, Nigeria has 119 foreign missions.