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.

Concluded.

•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

Nigerian army arrest bomber disguised as woman in Kaduna

The Nigerian Army has apprehended a suspected insurgent in relation with the twin bomb blast that rocked Kaduna on Wednesday. The twin-bomb attacks which resulted in ... Full story

Nigerian man sentenced to death for failing to bribe policeman with N200

A shaft of pain knifed through his facial contours as he recounted the grisly experiences he had in prison for more than 23 years. Prior to ...

US, Canada Condemn Kaduna Bombings

As critiscisms continued to greet Wednesday’s twin bombings in Kaduna metropolis, an Improvised Explosive Device went off at the New Road Motor Park in Kano ... Full story

Nigeria's Nkechi Opara wins first medal in women’s weightlifting at 2014 Commonwealth Games

Team Nigeria on Thursday in Glasgow recorded its first medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games when Nkechi Opara won bronze in the women’s weightlifting 48 ... Full story

Bishop Oyedepo: Nigeria May Split Soon

Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church aka Winners Chapel, has warned that Nigeria is on the verge of breaking up if some issues ...

Ebola epidemic gets 'Out of Control' in West Africa

The doctor leading the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone has himself caught the disease. The epidemic has claimed the lives of more than 600 ...

Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger deploy 2,800 troops against Boko Haram

Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger have agreed to quickly form a new force that would comprise 2,800 soldiers to fight the Boko Haram insurgents. The defence ...

Nine Nigerian Students Kidnapped In The Ukrainian City Of Lugansk

Nine Nigerian students have been reportedly kidnapped in the Ukrainian city of Lugansk, according to a statement by the representative of the National Security and ...

Bomb Explosion In Kaduna Leaves Many Dead!

An explosion has occurred in central Kaduna killing at least 10 people, a witness has said. The blast occurred Wednesday afternoon along Isa Kaita road which ...

Nollywood Actress Bukky Wright’s Second Marriage Crashes

It appears that the second marriage of popular Nollywood actress, Bukky Wright with her husband, Adewale Onitiri, has crashed. Reports say the couple almost ended the ...

Boko Haram Beheads Nigerian Air Force Officer - Very Disturbing Video

A disturbing video which showed a Nigerian Naval officer identified as Umar Abubakar being interrogated and later gruesomely murdered by Boko Haram men in Borno ... Full story

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

Rate this article

0

Breaking News

Prostitution Should Be Legalized In Nigeria----Maheeda

Controversial gospel singer, Maheeda says she thinks prostitution should be legalized. She said that even with the way prostitutes openly roam the streets of Lagos ...

Ibinabo Is A Small Girl...She Selects People And Give Them Posts- Mr Ibu Fires Back

Last week, Actors Guild of Nigeria president, Ibinabo Fiberesima fired shots at Nollywood actor John Okafor popularly known as Mr. Ibu for telling her to ...

Daddy Showkey Disappointed At Artistes Who Shunned Late Kefee's Burial

Ace music artiste popularly known as Daddy Showkey says there is no love in the music industry and musicians only pretend to love one and ...

Eva Alordiah Makes Over To Angelina Jolie

Its no news that some entertainment celebrities have other jobs doing apart from the entertaining, and female rapper Eva Alordiah is one of them.The talented ...

Richard Mofe Damijo To Be Given Chieftaincy Title

Veteran Nollywood actor, Richard Mofe-Damijo who was rumored to be ill sometime ago because of his weight loss is set to be honored with a ...

I Am Not Having Any Affair With Banky W.........Producer, Kemi Adetiba

Award-winning director, producer and cinematographer, Kemi Adetiba, has cleared the air on her relationship with EME boss, Banky W.Kemi explained that she and Banky W ...

My Online Begging Was A Stunt on My Daughter.........Afrocandy

Controversial actress, Judith Mazagwu, popularly known as Afrocandy, has finally opened up that her request for her daughter's school fees on the social media platform ...

Timaya Silence Fan After Describing Him As Uncivilized

Dem Mama Record’s boss, Enetimi Alfred Odom better known as Timaya, is not smiling with any one that tends to cross his way as the ...

I Am UpSet…Singer, Dencia Yells

New day | 7/26/2014 9:27:03 AM Dencia all these acts are Devil motivated, no one on earth is save because Satan dwells here on earth. But ...

Uniben Final Year Student Wins 2014 Miss Global Nigeria Pageant [Pictures]

A final year student of International Studies & Diplomacy, University of Benin, Faith Eriata is the 2014 Miss Global Nigeria Queen.The new Queen who hails ...