Nigeria’s foreign policy in a changing world (3)

// News | General | Nigeria’s foreign policy in a changing world (3)
Email to a friend Plain text Print version // Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru

Continued from Wednesday

One of the major challenges facing Nigeria’s foreign policy is the plight of Nigerians in prisons abroad. Over 9,000 Nigerians are in various prisons all over the world, the highest number of 752 being recorded in the United Kingdom.  Most of them are concentrated in the Asia-Pacific with many of them on death row. Given these alarming numbers and the imperative need to find creative solutions to the plight of these Nigerians, we convened regional seminars of Nigerian Heads of Mission in six centres. The Seminar for the Asia-Pacific region took place from April 4–5, 2013. At the end of the Seminar, the Heads of Mission made far-reaching recommendations, including the need to raise awareness in Nigeria on the dangers of irregular migration as well as involvement in transnational crimes, especially drug trafficking. In the immediate term, the Missions have been directed to explore the conclusion of Prisoner Exchange Agreements with the various countries, to ensure that those prisoners in foreign jails are repatriated home in dignity to complete their jail terms.

Some commentators on Nigeria’s foreign policy have reacted to the challenge of inadequate funding by suggesting that we close some of Nigeria’s missions abroad. It is argued that since government is unable to fund the over 100 missions, it would be better to close some and use the savings to properly support the remaining ones. This, to me, is a desperate solution that fails to address the fundamental problem of inadequate funding and the need to promote and defend Nigeria’s national interests in a changing world. This approach has never worked as we have tended to open and close missions in a cyclical movement that creates more problems than solutions. First, closure does not necessarily translate to savings. The government would reduce the overall budget of the ministry by the same amount that would have been deployed to the closed missions. It will not be spread to the existing ones. Second, the cost of closing and winding down is far greater than re-opening. Third, when we close missions, we damage relations that have taken years to build.  Fourth, at a time Nigeria seeks to be a member of the UN Security Council, in both permanent and non-permanent categories, our country needs more friends than ever before. A nation with such global ambition with its nationals spread all over the world cannot be shrinking its diplomatic and consular presence abroad. To begin to shrink rather than make new friends and consolidate existing relationships will be counter-productive to Nigeria’s national interests. What we have done instead is to commence gradual reduction in the staff strength in our missions abroad and thereby save cost. We have also been ingenious by creating SMART MISSIONS with only one ambassador assisted by few local staff.  These prudent measures will help conserve funds while still maintaining our diplomatic presence.

It is also remarkable that with the emergence of new global challenges, Nigeria has been in the forefront of addressing such issues as international terrorism, climate change, irregular migration, human and drug trafficking and illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Some of these complex issues that constitute security challenges have invariably posed serious threats to peace and security in Africa, particularly in our sub-region. While ongoing efforts are beginning to yield the desired results, Nigeria will not relent in its commitment to addressing this menace. Terrorism is an international phenomenon, gravely threatening national, regional and international peace and stability. The armed forces are also tackling the issue of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and theft of our oil. Foreign envoys have been informed and warned that any foreign ship caught will be arrested and the crew will face prosecution in our law courts. We require the full cooperation, support and partnerships of all our friendly countries.

Since President Jonathan’s assumption of office in May 2011, Nigeria has maintained a strong stance in Africa.  Following the formation of the AU about 11 years ago, Nigeria has not been involved in decision making at the highest level of governance in the organisation, in spite of our huge yearly contribution to it.  We tried three times, between 2003 and 2011 to secure one of the posts of commissioners reserved for our sub-region, but failed. However, Nigeria won the post of Commissioner for Political Affairs in a hotly contested election in July 2012.  This was indeed a huge success for Nigeria’s diplomacy. We broke the unfortunate chain of losing elections at the continental level and today, Nigeria’s visibility at the AU is no longer in doubt.

At the United Nations and other world bodies, Nigeria has since the advent of this government, maintained a robust presence.  In the past, there were criticisms that Nigerian nationals were not fully represented at various international bodies and organisations as these compatriots will bear the national torch and advance Nigeria’s interest in those organisations. Since we came on board at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we have secured 12 international positions to which Nigeria and Nigerians have been elected in multilateral organisations. There was no time in the history of our foreign policy that we have achieved so much within a short period of two years. These successes point to the effectiveness of our foreign policy machinery, the professionalism and the dedication of our diplomats deployed to ensure these election victories. We will therefore continue to maintain a robust foreign policy and ensure Nigeria’s leadership and visibility, not just in ECOWAS but in Africa as a whole.

We have since launched our bid for election into the UN Security Council in the non-permanent seat category for the period 2014-2015. We have worked hard and have received the endorsement of ECOWAS Heads of State and government. We expect to receive the endorsement of the AU at the next summit in May 2013. Our election to this position in October 2013 will be a befitting gift to Nigeria in the year of the centenary celebration of our existence as a corporate entity. It will also be the first time that Nigeria will return to the Security Council after only two years gap.

The ministry remains committed to protecting the interests of Nigerians by constructively engaging the diplomatic and consular missions in Nigeria, especially on visa matters. As we demonstrated in our swift and effective response to the deportation of Nigerians from South Africa over the issue of yellow fever cards and our various demarches to the diplomatic community in Nigeria over the issuance of visas to Nigerians, we have made it clear that Nigeria would not tolerate the maltreatment of its citizens at home and abroad. The ministry also collaborated with other MDAs to evacuate Nigerians trapped in conflict zones in various parts of the world (Libya, Syria). In Gabon where some Nigerians were to be ejected from the two Islands they had occupied for years by the host government, the ministry proactively engaged and successfully collaborated with the National Emergency Management Agency to evacuate them back home. We have also successfully resolved the dispute over trading activities by Nigerians living in Ghana.

An issue which I need to bring out is the lack of documented report on the activities of the ministry since its inception over 50 years ago. We all must bear full responsibility for our failure to do this. We have taken it upon ourselves, however, to correct this obvious omission as we have now published and launched the first edition of our annual report.

It is my hope that a better understanding of Nigeria’s foreign policy in the face of today’s realities and the changing world has been achieved.  As I have sought to demonstrate, there is really no basis for the criticism that Nigeria’s current foreign policy lacks dynamism. We have continued to be proactive in engaging the world and putting Nigeria’s national interests at the centre of our country’s foreign policy and international relations. What is needed is the support of major stakeholders and the vast majority of Nigerians in order to build a domestic base and consensus behind our country’s foreign policy exertions.


•Excerpts of a speech delivered by Ambassador Ashiru, Minister of Foreign Affairs, at an event organised by the Association of Retired Ambassadors of Nigeria in Lagos

Tagged : No tags for this article

Headlines Newsview all

Wealthy Oil Baron Kola Aluko's Arrest Warrant Sent To Switzerland

According to insider reports,a warrant of arrest was on Monday sent to Switzerland where Wealthy Oil baron Kola Aluko is currently living as a citizen ... Full story

Diezani Gets Bail In UK, Passport Seized

After her release, her international passport was reportedly taken from her to prevent her possible flight from the UK. According to Sahara Reporters, Alison-Madueke is expected ... Full story

Diezani Alison-Madueke, Ex-Petroleum Minister Arrested In London

The immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, was on Friday arrested in London, PREMIUM TIMES can exclusively and authoritatively report. The former minister, who ... Full story

King of Goals! Cristiano Ronaldo Receives Special Award As Real Madrid Pay Homage To the 500 Goal Hero (Photos)

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated becoming Real Madrid's top goalscorer of all time at a ceremony with his family and all his team-mates present to support his ... Full story

OMG! Governor Builds Multi-Billion Naira Mansion Four Months After Assuming Office

Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has been caught in a web corruption and diversion of public funds for private purposes four months after ... Full story

Another Boko Haram Fuel Dump Discovered In Maiduguri

According to a Press statement from the Nigerian Army, another Boko Haram fuel dump has been discovered in Bornu.  Below is an oficial Press Release and ... Full story

Angry Mob Nearly Lynch Naval Personnel Over Death Of Truck Conductor

Kirikiri area of Lagos, was yesterday, thrown into pandemonium, following attempt by a mob to lynch some naval personnel  whom they accused causing of the ... Full story

Nigerian Student In Malaysia Beaten To Death For Alleged Attempted Rape

A Nigerian student in Malaysia died on Wednesday after being beaten to death by an angry mob for allegedly trying to rape a woman in ... Full story

Family Worried Over Policeman’s Failure To Return Home 5 Months After Partaking In An Operation

The family members of a police corporal, Rasheed Hakeem, have been living in anxiety since May 2015, when the policeman failed to return home after ... Full story

Contestant For Ooni Of Ile-Ife Stool In Alleged N400m Fraud, Forgery Scandal

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has begun investigation into allegations of forgery, fraudulent conversion and obtaining the sum of N400m by false pretence against ... Full story

Hoodlums Shoot MC Oluomo’s Closest Aide Dead In Revenge Mission

Tension engulfed Oshodi, Lagos State, on Thursday, after Olayinka Mamowora, aka Mamok, a close aide of the Oshodi chapter chairman of the National Union of ... Full story

Comment on: Nigeria’s foreign policy in a changing world (3)

Rate this article


Breaking News

Mimi Orjiekwe Stuns In Over 10 Elegant Outfits For Editarnish Magazine (Photos)

Nollywood sweetheart, Mimi Orjiekwe recently graced the cover of editarnish magazine.The Enugu State born actress cum Fashionista dazzled in the beautiful photo shoot for the ...

I Need to Set Standard for Myself That is Why I Reject Some Scripts…Hilda Dokubo

Veteran Nollywood actress, Hilda Dokubo, has earned a soft spot in the heart of many home video viewers especially with her crying ability which is ...

FCT Admin Condemned Abuja Twin Blasts, Scores Killed

Following a twin blast that hit Abuja in the early hours of today, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Capital Territory Administration, John Chukwu, has condemned blasts ...

PHOTOS: Ini Edo Opens Multi Million Naira Lounge

On Wednesday, September 30, top Nollywood actress Ini Edo finally opens multi-million naira “Mimz Lounge”, in Lagos. The grand opening of Ini Edo’s multi-million naira lounge ... Full story

My Wives Are Not Beggars, They Work Hard For Their Money, King Sunny Ade Fires

Legendary singer, King Sunny Ade, has disclosed that he does not regret marrying many wives as they all live peacefully but noted that at some ...

I’m Not a Mischievous Person…Chinedu Ikedieze

Popular Nollywood actor, Chinedu Ikedieze better known as Aki, has attributed his acting prowess to the freedom he was able to get from his grandmother ...

I Can do Anything for Love…Adunni Ade

Nollywood actress, Adunni Ade, is not a new name in the movie industry as she continues to welcome numerous scripts which she puts in her ...

See what Jah Bless Mother used Her teacher's salary to do

Singer, Jah Bless, is in the news again and this time, he has decided to thank the mother for using her salary which she earned ...

Yoruba Movie Stars Turn Up For Bimbo Thomas Birthday Party (Photos)

Nollywood actress, Bimbo Thomas has been in the movie industry for quite a while, but she shot into the limelight when she appeared in Funke ...

Late Soccer Legend, Rashidi Yekini’s Estate Becomes security threat

The estate of late soccer legend, Rashidi Yekini has been turned to a grassing land ravaged by weeds which has propelled serious apprehension for residents ...