Nigeria’s outgoing Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has spoken about his achievements in the last eight years.
Mr Onyeama, who has been the face of President Muhammadu Buhari’s foreign policy, said his key achievement is the strengthening of relations with other countries.
“Creating that engagement and respect with the countries that we deal with, for Nigeria, has provided, in my opinion, an enabling environment for us to push our interests,” he said in an end-of-term exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES.
He noted that building and strengthening bilateral relations come with a lot of benefits including mutual respect and support for Nigerians on the international scene.
Other administrative achievements include the launch of the Diplomatic Service Digitisation Initiative (DSDI) which comprises a new business matching platform, Nigeria Global Business Match (NGBM), developed to make it easier for Nigerian businesses to access foreign markets and also to promote foreign direct investment into Nigeria.
Another initiative in the DSDI, which according to the minister was clearly missing before his appointment, is the Nigeria Global Citizens HelpDesk (NGCHD). The 24 hours a week platform enables Nigerians everywhere in the world to call in wherever they are if they have any problems.
Both platforms were launched on Wednesday by the ministry.
Mr Onyeama also spoke about grey areas in the administration of the ministry that need attention.
“It will have to be us being able to resolve the funding issue of the ministry, I think that is cardinal. We are grossly underfunded, so you have a perpetual crisis due to the underfunding, and we need a mechanism,” he noted.
He added that if the ministry must manage the 104 missions under it efficiently, then it needs to get more allocation during the budgeting process.
He also spoke on the need for the automation/computerisation of work procedures of the ministry and reorganising the headquarters by giving it modern means of communication.
On 29 May, the curtains will close on Mr Onyeama as foreign minister to open on another who will be appointed when the new government settles in.
Mr Onyeama was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs by Mr Buhari in 2015 and reappointed in 2019.
Prior to his appointment as minister, he worked at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) from 1985 to 2014. He served as the Deputy Director General of the organisation from 2009 to 2014 where he was responsible for the regional bureau for Africa, Arab Countries, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean; the Least-Developed Countries Division (LDCs), the Development Agenda Coordination Divisi (DACD), the WIPO Academy and the Special Projects Division.
He worked briefly as a research officer in the Nigerian Law Reform Commission Lagos from 1983 to 1984. He then worked as a lawyer with Mogboh and Associates in Enugu, Nigeria from 1984 to 1985.
Born in Enugu, he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Columbia University, New York; a Bachelor of Arts (B.A) degree in Law from St John’s College, Cambridge.
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He also holds a Masters of Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Masters of Arts in Law from St John’s College, Cambridge. He was called to the English Bar of the Grey’s Inn in 1981 and admitted as a Barrister-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 1983.
PREMIUM TIMES will publish the full interview with the minister in the coming days.
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