- Nigerian government owed staff 8 months unpaid salary
The Nigerian embassy in Sri Lanka was the first to be closed as earlier disclosed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama in May 2017.
The Foreign Minister had hinted the decision by the President to close 5 foreign Ministries without actually giving lists of the affected embassies.
Onyeanma had 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 said.
The minister admitted that it’s expensive to close embassies but assured that it would be of great benefits to Nigerians.
Onyeama stressed that the reduction of Nigeria’s foreign missions remains on the agenda of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Buhari had said at the inception of his administration 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 roadmap; 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 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 said.
It could be recalled that Nigeria and Sri Lanka signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the 23rd Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which was held in Sri Lanka in 2013, under the former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
NAIJA CENTER NEWS gathered that the Nigerian embassy was officially closed in January 2018 but remained in operation as the government could not raise the necessary fund to pay its staff, including the local staff who were owed up to 8 months.
The Ambassador, Salihu Umaru Ahmed and his family, other staff have relocated to Nigeria except for the Head of Chancery, Mr Effiom Boco and the Ambassador’s assistant, who are still around to relocate the assets to the Nigerian embassy in New Delhi, India.
Nigeria currently has 119 foreign missions.
How Nigerians in Sri Lanka react to the closure.
There was always a crack between the Nigerian House in Colombo and the Nigerians who accused the embassy for abuse and insolence.
Many Nigerians had grumbled of the mortification received at the embassy, particularly at the hand of a certain staff of the embassy who cursed them out for reasons best known to him.
The embassy under the leadership of Salihu Umaru Ahmed charged Nigerians fee to issue letters as requested by the Sri Lanka authorities, and some were locked out while the security man at the gate treats them like aliens in their own home.
Speaking with NAIJA CENTER NEWS, one of the excos of the Nigerian Associations in Sri Lanka said Nigerians celebrated the closure of the embassy as it was better for everyone. The exco claimed Nigerians suffered under the ambassador who held one meeting with Nigerians over a period of four years.
“Nigerians are happy as we have been calling for the closure since Ahmed took over from Rotimi. The man shut himself away from Nigerians and he only held a meeting with us once in four years.” He said.
The closure of the embassy may have given the Sri Lankan government more power to ill-treat Nigerians dwelling in the country for various reasons worse than they have been treated.
The government, if not for the fear of international reactions do not want Nigerians in the country as many Nigerians who were stamped entry visa at the office in Abuja have been sent back for unexplained reasons.
Information gathered by NAIJA CENTER NEWS revealed that the situation was worse under the Ahmed leadership as series of complained at the Nigerian embassy were ignored.
In 2014, a family of seven including a little baby who came to Sri Lanka to attend a wedding ceremony of their brother, Adeseye Adeyemi was held at the airport for about 18 hours. They were completely isolated from others without allowing them to use the washroom in the realization that they were Nigerians, and were deported despite the rigorousness.
The government claimed that they were held for the fear of Ebola despite the documents of clearance held by the Nigerians.
In 2015, the government announced a clampdown on Nigerians. The authority acquired a machine to check the validity of passport and visa, then use a Nigerian passport seized by the Immigration for an advert without the consent of the original owner who was cooling himself at the deportation camp, nor was the Nigerian representative consulted.
A source who spoke with NAIJA CENTER NEWS today said the case is worse now. He alleged that the government has upgraded the tactics to exploit Nigerians by issuing Visa in Nigeria then reject them at the port of entry for no reason.
“As I speak now, Nigerians are rejected at the entry point every day. The embassy stamps them in Nigeria and they are rejected here after they have spent expensively on air ticket and security visa.” He said.