… As Reps Move To Increase NIDCOM’s Budget
By Tordue Salem, Abuja
The Foreign Ministry promised yesterday to the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs that a new Diaspora Policy will be ready in 3 weeks.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, represented by his Minister of State, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, made the revelation before the Diaspora Committee.
He said: “I want to assure you that within three weeks, the federal government will present a Diaspora Policy.”
The minister who made the disclosure at a budget advocacy session of the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, 2020/2021, with NIDCOM President Ms Abike Dabiri-Erewa, also condemned the commission’s misallocation.
For the 2020 budget, a staff cost of N247 million was assigned to the commission, with approximately N206,640 released in October, while a balance of N41,328,948,50 still remained.
For an overhead component of the budget, the Minister told the Committee that only Naira 27,076,094 million was released, with only Naira 22.5 million being accessed and used.
While N100m budgeted for capital, only N53 million were released, with only N52m used, leaving a balance, N623,000 for September, October, November and December.
By 2021, the Ministry complained that they were only assigned N143,795,80 million as personnel cost, instead of the N247 million they presented to the budget office of the presidency.
“We made a proposal of more than N247m, but from observation it will appear that there was an error at some point. We are not aware of any downsizing at Nidcom. It seems that we cannot explain how this figure came about, ”the Minister told the Committee.
The Minister also regretted that there is no “zero allocated for travel for NIDCOM. international travel and local travel received zero allocation ”.
Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in his comments at the session, lamented that “there is no provision for office, in the budget; even with the initial budget (of 2020), there was none ”.
However, the chair of the Diaspora Committee, Representative Tolu Akande-Sadipe on behalf of the committee, promised NIDCOM that lawmakers will ensure that the commission’s budget is increased even above its proposed N247 million staff so that the agency can employ more staff and be more efficient.