The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had no control over the number of people from the private sector that attend the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, United States of America.
The ministry gave the clarification in a statement on Friday following a recent remark by the Minister, Aminu Wali, on the need to prune the number of Nigerian delegates to UNGA meeting.
The statement by the ministry explained that Nigeria’s delegation to the 68th session of the UNGA comprised delegates from the Presidency, state governments, Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government.
In addition, it said individuals from non-government organisatons, civil society organisations and the private sector usually attend side meetings during the sessions of the annual UN gathering.
The statement said: “It should be pointed out that the Federal Government has no control over the number of persons from these organisations and the private sector that may wish to attend the session.”
It, however, insisted that it was the desire of the Federal Government to keep Nigeria’s official delegation to this year’s UNGA meeting “very lean on the basis of functional relevance and value addition”.
On Tuesday, Wali had openly reprimanded MDAs to stop sending bogus delegations to the annual meeting in New York.
The minister, who spoke from hindsight as Nigeria’s former Permanent Representative to the UN, said 80 per cent of Nigerian delegates to previous meeting “did not add any value to deliberations”.
He added that findings from Nigeria Mission to the UN in New York had shown that the size of Nigeria delegations to the last meeting was bigger than Germany, South Africa and Egypt put together.
According to the minister, Nigeria has no fewer than 500 delegates to the 68th session of the UNGA in 2013.
Meanwhile Nigeria’s participation at 69th session of UNGA will cost the ministry N520 million, according to the 2014 appropriation Act posted on the website of the Budget Office of the Federation.
In 2013, N433 million was appropriated to the ministry for participation at the 68th session of UNGA, documents from BOF stated.
President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to lead Nigeria’s delegation to the UN meeting, which begins next week in New York.
The theme of the meeting is: “Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post 2015 Development Agenda.”