Nigerians in Guinea Bissau seek probe into abandoned embassy building
Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony with about 36,000 sq km in area, is one of the smallest countries in West Africa. Regarded as one of the poorest and most fragile, with a population of about 1.8 million, the country has been plagued by chronic political instability. It has been regarded as one of the most coup-prone and politically unstable countries in the world.
Since independence in 1974, four successful coups have been recorded in Guinea-Bissau, with another 16 coups attempted, plotted, or alleged. Fragility in Guinea Bissau is mainly a consequence of unfinished political transformation and disconnect between state and society. The Umaro Sissoco Embalo-led government is the fifth since the 2014 elections. However, the government is still unable to present its political program to the National Assembly, which has not opened in almost two years.
The ECOWAS-brokered Conakry Agreement, which was meant to end the political crisis, offers a historic opportunity for the national authorities, political leaders, and civil society to ensure stability and build sustainable peace. Implementation, however, has shown limited progress.
The UN has expressed its determination to support Guinea-Bissau in creating a better environment for the holding of legislative and presidential elections in 2018 and 2019, the reform of the Electoral Code, and the promulgation of a new law on political parties that would enhance parties’ autonomy and internal democracy. These reforms would be a step toward the creation of an environment conducive to national reconciliation.
In a release by Concerned Nigeria Group (CGN), based in Guinea Bissau, its president, Mike Omelo said in the country’s 2014 election, Nigeria made provision of 35 Hilux vans to help the crisis-ridden nation. “The assistance from ‘big brother’ is countless. Now the elections are here again. What has Nigeria really gained? This is a country that cannot boast of a befitting embassy structure in Guinea Bissau, yet it keeps doling out millions of dollars to the crisis-ridden nation,” he said.
Omelo said in 2012 when former president Goodluck Jonathan visited the country, he was sad by what he saw on ground and told the then ambassador, Ahmed Maigida Adams that his government will give a $2 million donation for the completion of a befitting embassy. We are aware that the pledge has long been redeemed but the structure is yet to be completed. It is sad that embassy staffers are housed in a rented building, with millions paid as rent annually. The abandoned embassy project which besides the United Nation building, located at the heart of the country’s capital has become an eyesore as it is now home for rodents and insects,” he said.
The statement added: “As the November 18 Parliamentary election draws near with pledges from different bodies to assist in a successful and peaceful polls, we are asking if it is proper to continue to dole out funds when successive embassy officials cannot account for the millions of dollars given for the completion of an embassy building in Guinea. It is time the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government, with the anti-corruption campaign drive beam its searchlight into embassies finances, because a lot of monies are not properly accounted for.”