Posted by By FRANCIS AWOWOLE-BROWNE, Abuja on
Minister of Foreign affairs, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala got a shock of her life, when on assumption of office she discovered that the ministry has neither letterhead paper nor official envelope, to write official letters.....
Minister of Foreign affairs, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala got a shock of her life, when on assumption of office she discovered that the ministry has neither letterhead paper nor official envelope, to write official letters.
Lamenting her sordid experience on her first assignment in the ministry, the minister narrated how she had to dash home to fetch bottles of wine, and personally provided money to buy biscuits with which she entertained the guests, at the end of the meeting which involved foreigners.
The minister, who said that she already had first hand information concerning the situation in the ministry with her own experience pointed out that her office did not have anything to work with as the photocopy and fax machines there were unserviceable.
Dr. Okonjo Iweala, who addressed the senior staff of the ministry, was responding to questions from the staffers bordering on systemic rot that has eaten deep into the fabric of the ministry and which had lowered the morale of the workforce.
She was told how official letters were typed at roadsides, and photocopies made by workers at their own expense in order to get the work going. “We bring chairs from home at times if we have meetings, where there are none. We on many occasion buy bulbs to lighten our offices, we have to post letters outside with our money, and nobody cares. Besides you are never reimbursed for all the expenses.”
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala then thanked the workers for their sacrifices, saying she would ensure that the welfare of the staff is taken care of, though it has to be reciprocal.
The mood of the workers, however, changed, when the minister disclosed that every aspect of the ministry activities would be reformed and in the process some workers would have to be laid off, but with assurances that every one to be affected would be paid their entitlements.
She maintained that the ministry was a very sensitive one that it could not afford to do business as usual, adding that there would be restructuring exercises in which old good system would be maintained while those working at cross purpose would be jettisoned.
Said she: “We must sanitise the system, we have to remove corrupt ones, we need fresh blood, we will restructure, we have to devise a foreign policy to meet the nation’s economic aspiration which will not interfere with the peace and security of our foreign partners.”
Okonjo-Iweala therefore urged the workers to brace up for the challenges ahead saying there was little or no time to carry out the reforms adding that all that has to be done within the next three to four months.
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