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March 2, 2024

Foreign Affairs ministry, ICRC, open talks to revitalise FG’s properties abroad

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By Okeoghene Akubuike

The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have opened talks for the revitalisation and commercialisation of Federal Government properties abroad.

This is contained in a statement signed by Mrs Manji Yarling, the Acting Head, Media and Publicity, ICRC, in Abuja on Sunday.

Yarling said the move, which was at the instance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was part of efforts to get alternative funding sources to maintain the nation’s missions abroad.

“It is also to develop or acquire new properties for newly set up missions.”

She said the discussions began on January 31, between the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and his team and the Director-General, ICRC, Michael Ohiani and his team.

Yarling said the talks continued on February 3, with the inauguration of a Public- Private Partnership (PPP) Unit in the ministry.

Speaking at the inaugural meeting, Onyeama said that funding had become a major problem for the ministry with many of its properties being undeveloped, underutilised or poorly maintained.

He said that over the years, the properties had continued to depreciate 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 see will make one want to cry. So we have been trying to find some kind of solution to the challenges.”

According to Yarling, the minister say some of the issues that has put the country’s properties abroad in such dire situations include funding, reduction in staff and change in layouts.

She said Onyeama gave an example of how one of Nigeria’s diplomatic buildings was now in a commercially busy area with a nightclub right in front of it.

He said, “we want to turn those prime properties into money-making ventures, so we have been looking for partners to come on board.

“We have to come up with a business model that works and is sustainable.

“We really have to do something about these properties that we own and have an inventory of all our assets.”

Yarling said 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.

According to Olisa, we have properties but we do not want to sell, we need the revenue generated from these properties to take care of the properties that we are using.

“We want to be able to do a PPP arrangement where the ministry brings in the property while the private investor brings the funds to revitalise the properties.”

She said Ohiani informed the ministry that the ICRC was set up to regulate such infrastructure development and management using private-sector funding.

“We reviewed the situation about our properties abroad and taken into consideration the economic losses, diplomatic embarrassment and security risks.

“We have come up with ideas to bring them to optimal utilisation.

“The ICRC as part of its regulatory functions monitors the entire PPP procurement process and also conducts due diligence on the private sector investors to ascertain their capability for any PPP project.”

Yarling said Ohiani assured the minister of the commitment of the commission to see the proposed projects to fruition.

Ohiani said that a team from ICRC would be ready to work with the newly inaugurated PPP unit to actualise 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.” (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Ese E. Eniola Williams

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