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Monday, May 27, 2024

Nigeria, We Are Back: Tinubu And The Diplomacy

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Nigeria’s ”big brother” status in the African continent is marked majorly by her contributions to Africa’s Independence. The country, which is home to the largest Black population, has contributed economically, militarily, and culturally towards Africa’s integration in the international arena. Its strength also lies in its endowment with mineral resources—especially crude oil, making her the country with the highest GDP in Africa.

Just a few days ago, the president, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, emerged as the Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, a regional organisation, Nigeria had played an active role in its realisation. Since the establishment of ECOWAS in 1975, Nigeria has always borne the burden of the community—not without contributions from other member countries—spending a huge amount of her wealth derived from crude oil in advancing the cause of the organisation.

Undoubtedly, this Afrocentric policy of Nigeria conferred more prestige on her as a regional power. However, the impact of her foreign policy has failed to corroborate her national interest—her domestic policies have not been totally met. That this deficiency is a product of Nigeria’s disregard for specialisation, or an effect of domiciliation of corruption, is indispensable. Do you challenge the dictatorship of the military regime? Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ appointment always falls into the hands of politicians, lawyers, economists and doctors, who by virtue of “connection” occupy positions, meant for individuals who had been brought up in the art and science of diplomacy, and thus do not only cut out as a result, but for the mechanism—corruption—which brought them into the system.

The new president, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has assured (as expected) upon his emergence as ECOWAS chairman in the 63 Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of States and Government on Sunday, “an unalloyed commitment to provide the necessary leadership with a dedication to serve the interest of the community”, as much as he promised the community many other things, including working to fight terrorism, and coup d’etat, both of which have always been the major challenges of democracy in the West Africa subregion and the African continent as a whole.

While it is only “normal” for politicians to meet their ends by undertaking things that they will not meet, the new president whose sagacious policies—removal of fuel subsidy, and student loan scheme, among others—have been appreciated throughout the country and abroad, should not be preoccupied with foreign engagements at the expense of the home government—domestic affairs. His chairmanship should not deter his judicious movement on the removal of fuel subsidy, in order to ameliorate the hampering effects of the subsidy removal on other member countries of the community, to which he had pledged to “promote trade, investment, and business cooperation among Member States by addressing the barriers impeding intra-regional trade.” In the face of an opportunity, the president should be ready to deploy a give-and-take strategy in his aggrandizement of Nigeria’s place in the regional organisation and beyond. Our military should not be deployed to states where Nigeria’s interest is not accommodated until such a country is ready for business. Funds and aids should be offered diplomatically, learning from our past foreign relations with neighbouring countries.

My advice is for the Nigerians who clapped and subscribed to the sagacious move to carry out their civil duties diligently and remain optimistic about the outcome of the decision. As a former Foreign Minister, Bolaji Akinyemi asserts, the many Nigerian citizens clapping at the president’s new dream for an advanced West Africa should realise that “responsibility goes with financial burden.”

However, the new role should not affect the “export more, import less” assurance. National security, where people live and engage in their economic activities without fear; power supply; and other infrastructural facilities—transportation, that would spur foreign investments, (all of which he assured) should not be neglected at the expense of an international dispensation, for they both work pari passu.

America procrastinated entering into the Second World War in 1939—among other reasons—because the House, acting on the citizens’ will, was opposed to the motion, despite the presidency and senate’s push for a realistic foreign policy objective—being the major agent of the United Nations. Therefore, a Nigerian’s internal development must be his drive in the newly assumed function. While the attempt at replicating the 60s and 70s Nigeria’s achievements would enable the country to a greater international repute, the citizens may be forced to persist in burdens from which they were envisaging reliefs.

By Abdulkabir O. Muhammed

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