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Foreign missions to be unified in a portal

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By Mercy Kelani

The portal would help stranded Nigerians to call for and get help.

According to the Federal Government of Nigeria, in a statement signed by Mrs. Manji Yarling, the acting head of Media and Publicity, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) on February 9, 2023, in Abuja, stated there are ongoing plans for incorporation of the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including all Foreign Missions into a unified portal. Mrs. Yarling stated that there was a proposal for the management of the unified web portal to be overseen under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, according to the ICRC media head, confirmed the proposal when he supervised a delegation to the ICRC to request its regulatory guidance for management of the portal with the usage of the PPP model. She added that one of the major aims of the portal is provision of a platform that helps stranded Nigerians to reach out and get help. The project information was divulged by the minister and his team after being welcomed by the Director-General of the ICRC, Michael Ohiani, and the management.

Creation of a harmonized platform for the ministry & its missions.

Aside the project, Onyeama briefed the ICRC on the search for effective management by the ministry. The minister asserted that the ministry has been in search of partners, as a result, they also visited the commission to present projects for scrutiny to see the likelihood of cooperation. This is because the minister was pre-informed that the ministry’s project can be sold to the private sector. The team from the ministry explained further, stating the ministry’s attempts to achieve three goals with the project.

As stated by the ministry’s team, the goals include the Diplomatic Service Digitalization Initiative (DSDI), a Unified Website and the Nigeria Global Business Match and Citizens’ Help Desk. According to the team, there exists an alignment between the project and the priority of the current administration which is inclusive of creating a harmonized platform for the ministry and the ministry’s missions. The Citizens’ Help Desk was one of the developments of clear guidelines for protection of Nigerians abroad.

The project would provide global jobs and opportunities to Nigerians.

Additionally, the team affirmed the capability of the project to enable the provision of multiple platforms for citizens in the diaspora to reach out to the government and find resolution to their issues. It would also make business match-making platforms possible for provision of global jobs and opportunities to Nigerians and Nigerian Businesses. To support the project, the high-level infrastructure, which are needed includes a virtual private network, an active directory, an intranet, and an electronic document management system.

With these services offered by the ministry, the ministry looked forward to achievement of an integrated e-payment solution. Ohiani added that this rare kind of project would be helpful in situations like the recent earthquake that occurred in Turkey. Nigerians, through the platforms, would easily reach out to the mission to call out for help, either for themselves or other Nigerians. He stressed the laudability of the project, stating that with the management of private sector operatives, optimization would be better with employment of technology deployment.

There should be ways to help the private sector recoup their investment.

The Director-General suggested that the project could become a marketplace where people can invest in. According to him, there has to be a way for money-making to enable the private sector to recover its investment and make some returns to the ministry. To aid seamlessness of the operation, there could be deployment of artificial intelligence into the projects. Focus should also be placed on aspects that will need partial to full commercialization. The ICRC head affirmed that the ICRC was prepared to welcome a business and financial model from the private sector through the ministry concerning the management of the project.

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