The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have opened talks for the revitalisation and commercialization where possible, of Federal Government properties abroad.
A statement signed by acting Head, Media and Publicity, Manji Yarling, said the talks were aimed at getting alternative funding sources to maintain the nation’s missions abroad and also develop or acquire new properties for newly set up missions.
Speaking at the inaugural meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyema, said funding has become a major problem for the ministry with many of its properties being undeveloped, underutilized or poorly maintained.
He said that over the years, the properties had continued to depreciate in value while some had even been lost due to the inability of the ministry to develop them in line with the laws of the host nations.
“If you go on a tour to some of our facilities what you would see would make one want to cry. So we have been trying to find some kind of solution to the challenges,” he said.
He said some of the issues that had put the country’s properties abroad in such dire situation include that of funding, reduction in staff and change in layouts.
Onyeama said one of Nigeria’s diplomatic buildings was now in a commercially busy area with a night club right in front of it.
Giving insights into the move, Amb. Janet Olisa, who oversees the Office of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry said that the ministry wanted to use proceeds from the PPP initiative to maintain its missions and properties abroad.
On his part, the Director General of ICRC, Michael Ohiani, informed the Ministry that the ICRC was set up to regulate such infrastructure development and management using private sector funding.
“We have reviewed the situation pertaining to our properties abroad and taken into consideration the economic loses, diplomatic embarrassment and security risks, we have come up with ideas to bring them to optimal utilization,” he said.
He said that the ICRC as part of its regulatory function monitors the entire PPP procurement process and also conducts due diligence on the private sector investors to ascertain their capability for any PPP project
He assured the minister of the commitment of the Commission to see the proposed projects to fruition, adding that a team from ICRC would be ready to work with the newly inaugurated PPP unit to actualize the goals of the Ministry.
With the inauguration of the PPP unit and the first training, all is now set for the technical aspects of the proposed PPP arrangement to commence.