The Federal Government on Thursday unveiled nine priority areas of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second-term administration, stressing that these areas are encapsulated in ‘Nigeria First’ as the new foreign policy thrust of the government.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, made this known while briefing the diplomatic corps in Abuja in Thursday. He noted that the key areas include: building a virile economy, enlarging agricultural output, energy sufficiency, expansion of transport and infrastructure, among others as the new focus of the administration.
The Minister told the international community that during the first term of President Muhammadu Buhari, security, fight against corruption and job creation were the priority areas of the administration. He added that the second term of President Buhari would be expanding the focus which would guide the policy direction over the next four years.
“This second mandate, we have nine priority areas the government has identified. And these are to guide our policy direction over the next four years.
“One is building a thriving and sustainable economy; enlarging agricultural output for food security and export; attain energy sufficiency and power and petroleum products; expand transport and other infrastructure development; expand business growth, entrepreneurship and industrialisation; expand access to quality education, affordable healthcare and productivity of Nigerians; enhance social inclusion, reduce poverty, build systems to fight corruption; improve governance and create social cohesion and improve security for all,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama stated further that the government would pursue a realistic foreign policy that will reflect domestic realities of the country.
“So, you can also call it a ‘Nigeria First Policy’. But that will not be very original because I think somebody else might want to claim a copyright on using first for a country having interest or promotion of foreign policy. But basically, it is going to be a ‘Nigeria First Foreign Policy,” Onyeama added.
The Minister noted that if the nation adopted a concentric circle methodology, the country could say that its first priority would be Nigeria’s contiguous neighbours such as Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger which share border with Nigeria. He added that with these countries, “we are allies in the battle to defeat terrorism,” stressing that the battle was an existential battle.
Onyeama also said Nigeria was fully committed to sub-regional integration with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). He noted that the security, social, economic, political and judicial building blocs were well established and the integration programme was progressing steadily.
At the continental level, Onyeama stated that Nigeria also fully engaged with the African Union vision of an integrated Africa.
On the conduct of the diplomatic corps in the country, the Minister told the ambassadors and heads of missions accredited to the country to always engage the country through the normal diplomatic channels.
He pointed out that some diplomats were reported to have gone into areas that are considered sensitive for political or security reasons for purposes that are not always very clear.
“We would caution you against such forays and we advise prior consultation with the Ministry before you send a colleague or you go to some of these areas. And it is also for your own safety and the safety of your colleagues,” Onyeama cautioned.
He advised the envoys to at all times abide by diplomatic protocols and also have all diplomatic engagements with the government first through the foreign ministry instead of the attitude of referring some issues directly to the Presidency and at the state level as some of them have done before.