|By John Alechenu, Abuja|
|Wednesday, 27 Jul 2011|
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru, on Tuesday said Nigerian Missions abroad would henceforth undertake reciprocal treatment regarding the issuance of visas.
The minister said in maiden meeting with members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Nigeria that Nigeria would longer not tolerate the shabby treatment of its citizens by foreign missions that appeared to have developed a habit of frustrating Nigerians with genuine reasons to travel.
Ashiru said it was no longer acceptable for missions in Nigeria to make Nigerians suffer just because they were seeking visas.
“I wish to assure you of the readiness of Nigeria’s diplomatic missions to undertake reciprocal treatment.
“Where visas are delivered promptly within three to five days, we shall reciprocate and where there is a delay, we shall apply the same measure.
“I wish however to appeal to you to please help to lessen the burden of such complaints and requests for assistance on mu office.“
Certainly, where unnecessary delays are caused, it would be a negation of the principle of good relations between two countries.”
The minister also cautioned foreign diplomats against making unguarded utterances on Nigeria’s internal affairs.
He expressed the hope that he would not be given any opportunity to summon any ambassador to his office for acts of “insensitivity” or lack of restraint.
The minister also frowned at the practice by some diplomats who bye-passed the Foreign Ministry to deal directly with Nigerian ministries and departments.
On Nigeria’s new foreign policy thrust, the minister said Nigeria under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan would intensify her advocacy against illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which he said had become a catalyst for conflict in the African continent.”
Accordingly, Nigerian diplomatic missions abroad have been re-directed to accord this new emphasis the highest priority.
He said “While upholding the democratic imperative and our leadership role in the continent, we would strive to re-define our foreign policy, and strengthen our diplomacy to support domestic programmes of government.”
Ashiru pointed out that poverty remained the single greatest enemy of democracy and must be tackled seriously.