President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday expressed optimism that the recession will end next year.
He spoke in Abuja while opening an induction course organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for career ambassadors-designate.
Buhari told them they would be responsible for resources in their missions.
In a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President said: “We are optimistic that the external factors that partly contributed to push our economy into recession will end in 2017. Until then, I regret that the resources available to fund our missions abroad will not be as robust as we would like.
“We are working hard to turn around our national economy by effectively reforming our macroeconomic environment through measures, some of which were outlined in my budget speech to the National Assembly last week.”
Noting the prevailing circumstances have led to a restructuring of missions abroad, Buhari told the ambassadors-designate: ‘’As we are making great sacrifices at home, we also expect you to similarly make judicious use of resources put at the disposal of your missions.
“As heads of missions, you will be held accountable for the utilisation of resources under your control. These are lean times, and we are expected to do more with less.”
He urged them to change the narrative of Nigeria outside the country by playing up the positive values and contributions of Nigerians in the global arena.
He said: “I want to emphasise your duty to change the narrative of Nigeria as seen by the outside world. For too long, we have allowed Nigeria to be defined by others, always emphasising things negative. To the average foreigner, Nigeria evokes 419, terrorism, militancy, communal and religious clashes, insecurity, corruption and other faults.
“You have to correct this narrative by taking the initiative to define and portray our country for what it truly is. We are a nation of 180 million vibrant, enterprising, hardworking, hospitable and peaceful people. We are a remarkable nation that has succeeded in harnessing our multiple diversities as strength, such that we are the leading country on the continent.
“Therefore, you will need to mobilise, sensitise and motivate your staff so together you engage with your host governments, private sector and other segments of the society to explain that Nigeria is much more than the negative image portrayed to them.”
The President enjoined them to leverage on achievements of Nigerians here and in diaspora.
“Think of people like Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Chinedu Echeruo, who founded Hotspot application, which he sold to Apple for over a billion dollars; think of Bayo Ogunlesi, who runs over a billion dollar infrastructure fund and is now adviser to United States (U.S.) President-elect; and Jelani Aliyu, an accomplished car designer at General Motors. Indeed, these and other hardworking Nigerian professionals in the diaspora have never forgotten their roots and have been making significant contributions to their communities back home and even to our economy through their huge remittances.”
He urged them to sustain the work ethic characterised by the love of the country, professionalism, excellence, integrity and honour associated with the “Nigerian diplomatic tradition established in 1957 by the pioneers of the Nigerian Foreign Service, sometimes referred to as the ‘Twelve Apostles’ and “bequeath same to succeeding generations”.
Buhari advised the ambassadors-designate to stress Nigeria’s commitment to international peace and security through contributions “to nearly every UN peace-keeping initiative since 1960”.
“In addition, we are the stabilisers and shock absorbers of West Africa, having helped to contain potentially de-stabilising developments in the sub-region,” he said.
He urged them to always be mindful of national priorities that “revolve around the economy, security, anti-corruption, good governance, agricultural transformation and infrastructural development, including rail, roads and power” and use their roles “as principal representatives to build meaningful partnerships to attract foreign investments, new skills and technologies.”