The Comptroller General of Immigrations, Muhammed Babandede has said the Nigeria Immigration Service is in only 47 out of the 105 diplomatic missions of Nigeria in the world. Babandede made the revelation at the investigation by the House of Representatives committee on foreign affairs on alleged malpractices in diplomatic postings and draining of scare public resources by the ministry of foreign affairs.
He said “We’re yet to reach the others, there are 105, which ought to be around based on the population of Nigeria but we are only in 47 locations with 54 officers”. Dismissing allegations of nepotism and favouritism on posting, the CG said “When I came on board I find out that one of the most interesting place to be posted by immigration officers is foreign mission because you earn dollars.
When you earn dollars, you are richer than the CG himself. “So, the request, the demand, the pressure on foreign posting is much and only 54 people are on foreign mission. You can imagine what will happen, they will talk to the speaker, the will talk to the senate president, they will talk to all the ministers they know to get this done. “So, as a responsibility Agency we decided to produce a posting policy and I’m very proud to say that it is a policy which very Nigerian should be proud of.
We decided to do posting based on the following categories: Officers who serve as teachers in training schools we keep 50% of the slots for them, there are Officers who are in the Airport now based on the technology we have, it takes three minutes to clear a passenger, if you are able to clear in three minutes we know, you have done well, your ability to repair or install machines, we select 40% of them not based on anybody they know but on those qualities.
“We have those who receive awards under merit, based on that we put merit and special consideration 10%. So you can see, those who can come under special consideration, if they know the chairman, House committee on foreign affairs, only 5% can have the opportunity but you too must be qualified as a professional because we do test and training before you go”.
He said the passport was the biggest challenge adding that only $20 m was generated from issuance of passport from diaspora Nigerians in 2020 due to COVID-19. In his presentation, the minister for foreign affairs, Mr. Geoffery Onyema said that Nigerians in diaspora should be provided with a 24 hours call centre where they can call and feel free to discuss any issue of concern to them.
He blamed some of the disturbing video on social media, which he said made it difficult for the ministry to enlighten people. “Anytime there is complaint or i see a video criticizing treatment in any mission, the first thing i do is to contact the head of that mission to explain what is happening and ask them to give a report, their side of the story because I know that it is not always what is on social media that is can be taken as fact.
“We have already discussed about it with the CG and we have resolved to have and work together and have one harmonized and composite administrative fees for all our missions. “We are now mobilising the funds and setting it up with our ICT people.
We feel that this will at least let all Nigerians know that whatever problems have, if it is issues with regards to consulate services or any other issue that there is a listening ear and government is listening and is there to act immediately. Also speaking at the event, chairman of NIDCOM, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa said NIDCOM and the ministry were working on effective communication and rapid response to these issues. “We are going to set up a NIDCOM app, which can downloaded by all Nigerians in the diaspora to even bring in their complaints and all”, she stated.
While declaring open the event, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila lamented that there were so many complaints against the foreign affairs ministry by diplomats and the general public on the rot in diplomatic posting and other issues. He said the ministry, its departments and agencies had been involved in the alleged malpractices adding that the House had resolved to investigate the matter owing to the number of petitions it received from the diplomats and the general public on it.
He noted that the foreign ministry is responsible for framing the country’s foreign policy and the way the world see our nation and added that it is a tragedy if what it portrays is opposite of its policy decision. In his welcome address, chairman of the House committee on foreign affairs, Buba Yakub said that the probe is in tandem with the President Muhammad Buhari’s avowed stand on zero tolerance for corrupt practices by public office holders.
He said the probe is to beam searchlight on consular services offered by the ministry of foreign affairs and the Nigeria Immigration Service to citizens of Nigeria at home and in diaspora. He also urged them to ensure that the issues of posting of staff are done in accordance with laid down principles noting that the ministry is the mirror through which citizens see what happens around the world.