SPEAKER of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila has lamented the poor state of Nigerian embassies across the world, saying that most of them do not have quality toilets and functional air conditioning units.
Gbajabiamila spoke during a courtesy visit to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffery Onyeama in Abuja on Monday.
The speaker’s visit to the minister followed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ directive to Nigerian embassies to ignore a clause the National Assembly put in the 2022 Appropriation Bill which mandated them to spend their capital allocations without waiting for the ministry’s approval.
Gbajabiamila, who faulted the ministry’s directive, said the clause was added to the bill to remove bureaucratic bottlenecks affecting effective operation of the embassies.
He said the poor state of the country’s embassies abroad could make anyone ashamed of being a Nigerian.
“I think it is necessary to give a background as to the reason why the law is there in the first place. We did not just wake up one day and pull something out of the hat and say we want to put this clause.
“For every law, there is a reason for it. And the reason for it is very simple. I have been all over the world for one official duty or the other and then of course the first port of call is always the embassy.”
Gbajabiamila recalled one of his trips to one of the country’s embassies and how the ambassador’s vehicle that was conveying him broke down midway into the journey.
The speaker said the Nigerian flag on the vehicle was quickly removed to avoid embarrassment.
“You go to an embassy, the toilet is not working. You ask them why they say there is no money. You go into an embassy the air conditioners have packed up.
“I can go on and on. That is what got us here. I cannot begin to tell you what I have seen and what I have heard,” he added.
The speaker said the ministry should have asked for an amendment instead of writing to the embassies to ignore and flout the resolution of the National Assembly.
“If you are not happy with the law just like if you are not happy with a court judgment, there are processes. You amend the law or you appeal the court’s judgment. You don’t tell somebody not to obey the court judgment.
“So for me, that is the baseline that we need to, first of all, withdraw that letter being an illegal letter and a letter that is unconstitutional and a letter that is disrespectful to the National Assembly. It needs to be withdrawn.”
Gbajabiamila added that the embassies should comply with the law until it is reversed.