FG set to review Nigeria’s Foreign Policy
…As ex minister flays foreign policy objectives
The Federal Government has again given an indication that it will review Nigeria’s Foreign Policy to meet with the demands of contemporary times in international relations, especially to protect Nigeria’s vital national interests in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive.
The Minister of state, Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, made this known in his remarks during a public lecture organized by the Association of Retired Career Ambassadors of Nigeria (ARCAN) in Abuja on Tuesday under the chairmanship of former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar.
The minister noted that President Buhari on assumption of office had issued Nigeria’s foreign policy framers a nine-point agenda to be executed at the ministry, with the major aim to review of the country’s foreign policy.
“The presidency has directed us to review the country’s foreign policy as part of the nine mandates given to the ministry,” Dada said. He added that the directive to review the country’s foreign policy was as a result of global dynamism, and the need for the country to change with time.
The guest lecturer and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ignatius Olisemeka, in his lecture entitled ” Nigeria’s Foreign Policy: Evolution, Trend and Prospects Since Independence”, emphasised that the time was ripe to end the foreign policy objectives of Nigeria which appear to be run like a charity. He called for more efficient and effective approach to use foreign policy to drive Nigeria’s interests and perhaps stop the unsolicited generosity given to some countries which hardly reciprocate these kind gestures.
He cited the incessant killings and destruction of Nigerian businesses in South Africa and other places as indicative of the weakness in the country’s past foreign policies, adding that the current foreign policy is “too foreign” and has not sufficiently formed the complementarity of domestic and foreign policies.
He said, “One lesson that could be drawn from all of this is that Foreign policy should never be run on a charitable basis. There must be a price-tag to every effort. That price, whether in goodwill, or in other terms, must be carefully calculated beforehand, demanded and fully exerted when the mission is over or when the time is ripe.
“It is not at all, as always been argued, a moral issue as to whether one should or not expect appreciation from another country for a good turn done. It is more basic than that. It is simply that one has the right to expect result from one’s own efforts. How that result is achieved is a matter of planning. There is no doubt, that when policies are properly and carefully conceived and planned, reward is inevitable. On the other hand, thoughtlessly and carelessly conceived and executed programmes and engagements, yield no results.
“This, explains why we could invest so much effort, so much energy and so many resources (as we did in Angola, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and other parts of west Africa) and reap nothing positive from such effort. The reoccurring spate of xenophobic attacks and killing of Nigerians in South Africa, are all indicative of the weakness in our perception of our real interests, weakness in planning, weakness in our approach and style in the Southern Africa Liberation Struggles. Simply put in one sentence: it was an abysmal weakness in our DIPLOMACY,” he added.
He pointed out that there is no synergy between Nigeria’s domestic and foreign policy, saying “paradoxical as it may sound, our foreign policy is too “foreign”; far too unduly externally focused and not sufficiently internally directed. This observation derives from a combination of the point already made-our desperate search for identity and international recognition; our predilection to run before we can crawl; and our search for a role to play.
“We are, therefore inclined to see foreign policy as a rather detached and abstract exercise, not sufficiently related to tangible, concrete, internal domestic needs and objectives. To some, it is simply an intellectual abstraction. Our military rulers, who have dominated the scene since independence, have depended too much intellectuals as Foreign Ministers.
“Let me assert that the problem facing us in this type of approach to the conduct of foreign policy is the failure to accord it full recognition, especially the development of foreign policy as an essential tool for development,” he said.