• FG owes backlog of salaries, allowances
From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Quebec-Canada
Nigerian foreign missions in Canada, Switzerland and some parts of Europe are in dire financial straits as diplomats are now stranded and broke. The financial mess is so deep that it practically forced Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Canada, Ambassador Ojo Maduekwe to relocate cap in hand, to Abuja last week. He was said to have met with President Goodluck Jonathan on the matter, who in turn reportedly directed him to meet with the Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Maduekwe’s last ditch effort, it was learnt, was “to avoid total closure of the High Commission in Canada.”
The meeting with the minister yielded no dice, as at last week. Top-level sources in the Canadian High Commission in Ottawa, Canada told Daily Sun that the situation was so critical that allowances and salaries of two months had not been paid. It was also gathered that apart from salary arrears, the High Commission had no funds to pay for electricity, water and telephone bills and sundry expenses.
The source added that the only solution was for long-standing staff to “use our credit cards to do what should ordinarily be done from embassy funds. Our salaries are often delayed and we are left to fend for ourselves in a foreign land.
“In fact, some of our diplomats are sometimes owed up to five weeks. To make matters worse, we dare not owe non-Nigerian staff. What we do is to source for their salary from funds generated from the visa application section while any remaining fund is used to settle some outstanding bills including electricity and telephone.” While embassy staff in Canada are able to get by, the situation in Geneva is pathetic.
The top ranking official disclosed that Nigerian Embassy staff in that country had had to deploy strategies to survive in Switzerland. Aside from non-payment of salary, staffers now beg Ghanaians to pose as prospective tenants because landlords are no longer willing to extend credit facility to Nigerians anymore.
“We have lost the chance of enjoying credit facility of any kind in Geneva because they know that as a Nigerian, you will definitely default in payment. “What Nigerian Embassy officials do is to use Ghanaians as go-between to access credit facility and rent apartments. That person is usually the front otherwise, if you present yourself as a Nigerian, you’ve failed from the outset.”