Experts have declared that the incoming administration as a matter of urgency must systematically confront the country’s domestic challenges to be a country whose voice others would respect as authentic, in order to regain the respect and trust of other countries in the international sphere. Assistant Editor Bola Olajuwon writes.
Analysts agree that the realm of foreign affairs is a product of international dynamics and domestic attributes. One of such individual, Nick Evans, says for one to suggest otherwise is primitive. In today’s world, domestic and foreign policy are deeply intertwined. What happens abroad affects countries at home – and vice versa.
The challenge for policymakers is figuring out how to formulate foreign policy to meet national objectives and how to navigate the complexities of interconnectedness of what happens abroad and at home.
Foreign policy is the formal, legal and authoritative expression of national interest by the government through the constitutional process of the state. It is said to be a course of action taken by the authority of the state for achieving a particular objective or goal. It is equally viewed as an act of internationalising domestic resolve.
Decline of the giant
Since independence, Nigeria’s foreign policy at one time or other was focused on the abolition of all forms of colonialism and imperialism in Africa, promotion of friendly relations and cooperation among member states and Africa as the centrepiece. The country’s foreign policy has also been based on non-alignment with the power blocs, promotion of peaceful resolution of inter-state disputes and respect for the territorial integrity of other African states based on the principles of non-intervention in the affairs of their member state.
Nigeria was the main voice against colonialism in Southern Africa and frontally led the fight against Apartheid in South Africa. It was also the main force behind restoration of peace in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire and Gambia. The country was, until recently, known for contributing peacekeepers for international peacekeeping engagements.
But, domestic problems under Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari administrations with the rise in terrorism, kidnapping, and deterioration of communal clashes between farmers and herders have taken the shine off the nation’s international image as the giant of Africa. Down the road, the country’s foreign policy has lost its clarity.
A few days ago, South Africa announced a plan to lead Zambia, Senegal, Republic of Congo, Uganda and Egypt in a delegation of leaders from the six African countries to discuss a possible plan to end the war in Ukraine. The country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had “agreed to receive the mission and the African heads of state” in Moscow and Kyiv.
When this correspondent confronted diplomats about why Nigeria was missing from the list of the African initiative, he was told to ask the Presidency or the Foreign Affairs Ministry. But, no answer was forthcoming from the two highest foreign policy decision-makers.
Agenda for Tinubu’s incoming administration
Setting agenda for the Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s incoming administration on how to awaken the giant after its descent in international arena, former Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bulus Lolo said: “We want a Nigeria whose voice, others would look up to as authentic. We want a Nigeria that is sure of itself; a Nigeria that is at ease and a Nigeria that can point and project an example for others to follow. And always, the intricate link between domestic and foreign policy must not be lost on us. We have to bear this in mind and that is why the things that happened at home affect our image abroad. It is incumbent on us to provide a space in which Nigerians will be confident, Nigerians would be comfortable with one another and Nigerians would want to live in peace.
“Unless we regain the trust in ourselves, willing and able to accommodate one another as a nation, I’m afraid that, we risked returning to those days again where Nigeria assumes a pariah nation and one that would have dire consequences for the average Nigerian. I pray that the future for us will be better than our past. We need goodwill at home and abroad.
“I just want to reiterate the point that our domestic policy is intricately linked to our foreign policy. And it is a fact that a united, strong, vibrant and confident Nigeria will project the same qualities abroad. Conversely, if we are this united, we are weak, we are incoherent and inconsistence, without vitality and confidence, we will not be able to speak with any authority abroad.
“So, it is important for the incoming government to do everything within its power and especially since they have promised to renew hope, we need a leadership that rejuvenates that thing that makes Nigeria known and Nigeria to be liked, wherein the citizens are proud, the citizens of Nigeria see themselves as each other’s keeper and you can travel the length and breadth of the country without fear that you would come to harm of any sort.
“It will speak a great deal how we manage our diversity, ethnicity, religion, and also how we manage our politics. We must not allow ourselves to roll back the gains of democracy that we have had since 1999.
“It is the duty of the incoming government to project Nigeria as a country in which democratic ethos has come to stay and that our electoral processes stand the test of credibility, the test of integrity, and the test of acceptance. Unless we are able to select our leaders in a manner that confers legitimacy on them from the start, we will be starting with a deficit and I hope this would not be the case.”
Also, a Nigerian academic, author and the third Vice Chancellor of Federal University Oye Ekiti, Ekiti State, Prof. Kayode Soremekun, in his contribution, decried a situation where too many voices speak for the country on the world stage.
“For instance, the recent attempts to repatriate our nationals from Sudan reflect this kind of situation. Too many agencies were involved in this exercise; whereas, the various agencies should have subordinated themselves to our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is the only entity that has the legitimate capacity to speak for Nigeria. The suspicion here is that since huge resources were involved in this Sudan episode, other state agencies attempted to elbow out the legitimate entity – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he said.
“In the light of the foregoing, the incoming government has its work cut out for it in the critical area of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy.
“There should be recourse to an era, where Nigeria was seen and regarded as a major voice and force in international affairs. But this is easier said than done. This is because foreign policy anywhere should be anchored on domestic variables. At the moment, these variables are very inclement in Nigeria.
“Consequently, for Nigeria to be taken seriously in world affairs, due and initial attention should be paid to the domestic scene. The BAT Presidency should seriously address critical areas like security and our appalling power situation. To these must be added the slaying of another dragon – the steel industry, which has tormented Nigeria and Nigerians since the First Republic.
“If these variables – i.e. the steel industry, security, the petrochemical industry and power – are seriously addressed, then our Nigeria will be poised to play a major role in the World.”
A research fellow with the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Dr. Tola Ilesanmi, in her opinion, said the Tinubu administration has indeed been foisted with the rare opportunity of returning Nigeria to its place of pride among the comity of nations and achieving its national interest on the international sphere.
Firstly, the incoming administration as a matter of urgency must systematically confront headlong the domestic challenges of insecurity and economic downturn. By so doing, Nigeria will regain the respect and trust of other countries in the international sphere. This is because foreign policy remains an extension of a country’s domestic policy and any government that wants to be taken seriously internationally must to a reasonable extent have a grip on its domestic situation.
“Secondly, Nigeria must occupy its leading role in Africa and in the African Union by assertively speaking on issues that concern the continent, and work towards its integration. Thirdly, Nigeria must occupy its position as a middle power in the world. And to effectively achieve this, the incoming government must as a matter of urgency build its military-industrial complex. Nigeria can learn from Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has become well-respected in the globe as a military power and has developed Turkey’s military-industrial complex,” Dr. Ilesanmi said.
Source: The Nation
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