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Obasanjo, Osuntokun, others urge Nigeria to strengthen foreign policy

Obasanjo faults $1.13trn accumulated debts in Africa

Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria; Akinjide Osuntokun, a professor, and other distinguished Nigerians have urged Nigeria to ensure an inclusive government built on equality, equity, fairness and justice, as well as effective foreign policy.

The call was made on Tuesday at the maiden symposium of the Emeka Anyaoku Institute for International Studies and Diplomacy, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State.

Osuntokun, who was the keynote speaker and professor emeritus, in a lecture titled, ‘Nigeria’s Foreign Policy: A Retrospect View’, said, “In these 62 odd years of Nigeria’s independence, Nigeria has made a success of its foreign policy and diplomacy but there is no doubt there is still room for improvement but it is clear that its foreign policy based on its unchanging national interest will remain unchanged.

“But charity usually begins at home. To have an effective foreign policy, Nigeria must ensure that it has an all-inclusive government that is built on equality, equity, fairness and justice.”

According to him, Nigeria appears, over the years, to have followed a well laid-out plan in his foreign policy.

He said, “Whatever the fashionable slogan of the era was, whether ‘Africa is the centre piece of Nigeria’s foreign policy,’ ‘concentric circles in which Africa is not the inner circle’ and the rest of the world is the outside circle or economic diplomacy.

“But it should not be assumed that there was a road map in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Cabinet Office at the Presidency which guided policy formulation and execution.”

Obasanjo called for unity of the country to achieve meaningful development as well as forging a better foreign policy.

He extolled the virtues of Emeka Anyaoku, a former secretary general of Commonwealth, who he noted contributed immensely to international diplomacy.

The former president also commended Governor Willie Obiano for the establishment of Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport at Umueri to boost the state’s economy.

He urged Anambra citizens to support Chukwuma Sọludo, the incoming governor, who he said worked with his administration to boost the economy as Central Bank of Nigeria governor.

Anyaoku, the celebrant, commended the guests, including Obasanjo, Obiano, Sọludo, former governor Peter Obi, Simon Okeke, Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, and Sen. Uche Ekwunife, among many others.

Read also: What exactly is Nigeria’s foreign policy?

Anyaoku, who also marked his 89 birthday at the event, said that Nigeria’s standing and diplomacy in the world could not but be greatly influenced by the country’s domestic situation.

“As the most populous African country, Nigeria has a special responsibility for obliterating the abiding legacy of the slave trade by winning respect and genuine acceptance of the nation of human equality among the non-black races across the world,” he said.

Charles Esimone, a professor and vice-chancellor of UNIZIK, said the Emeka Anyaoku Institute, launched in October 2017 targeted at fostering learning and promotion of International Peace, has been somewhat in limbo.

He, however, expressed the optimism that the maiden symposium would signal the varsity’s commitment to redouble efforts to make the institution functional.

“We shall mobilise support from public spirited corporate organisations and individuals for infrastructural development of the institute and the organisation of academic discourses for the goals realisation,” he said.