A Foreign Affairs Analyst, Dapo Thomas, on Monday said that the current framework of the nation’s foreign policy exists only on paper and is not practical as the principles therein are outdated and irrelevant in contemporary times.
The International relations lecturer at the University of Lagos, while speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, decried the continued inclusion of two outdated principles, decolonisation and non-alignment, in the framework.
“It’s unfortunate that the way we look at foreign policy or the way we manage our foreign policy in Nigeria, has been very lackadaisical, in terms of our response to challenges, dilemmas of the international system,” he said.
He averred that circumstances in the past necessitated the formulation of the five principles which form the framework of Nigeria’s foreign policy.
- Respect for the sovereignty of other nations
- Multilateral diplomacy
- Noninterference in the affairs of other nations
Hence, these fundamentals were adhered to when issues like decolonization was crucial in Africa, particularly in the liberation of South Africa from apartheid regime. The principle of non-alignment was as included a result of the cold war. “They had some meaning,” he added.
However, Mr Thomas argued that they are now irrelevant and the other three principles are germane contemporarily.
“I don’t know what we are still doing with those two, non-alignment and decolonization. When you are talking of non-alignment, you should know that whether you want to agree that what we have now is the dominance of the United States (the question is) what has been our reaction (response) to this development, the unipolar system?” he asked.
He opined that Nigeria’s reaction has been conservative. “Conservative to the point that we still believe in ‘process as usual’ meaning we relate with the US on the basis that we had a western-oriented or westerncentric foreign policy.”
He stressed in the need to ‘react’ to the ideological, present evolutionary system which is the unipolar system, adding that the reaction is not to the United States government as that relationship is at the level of bilateral relations.
He also faulted the current foreign policy which he said “is not system driven” but “personality driven” because foreign policy makers or political leaders in Nigeria (and not the official document) dictate the pace and direction of the foreign policy.
“If your policy is system driven, it reacts naturally to whatever changes occur in the international system.”
Asked if the nation truly has a foreign policy, Mr Thomas said that “the perception to people is that we don’t have foreign policy but academically (that’s theoretically) we have but practically, we don’t have because it’s at the dictate of who is at the helm of affairs.”
On claims that the framework is afrocentric, placing Africa at the centre of its foreign policies, Mr Thomas said it made sense in the 60s, 70s and 80s but not anymore as former President Olusegun Obasanjo ‘diluted the afrocentric perspective.’
According to Thomas, Obasanjo made the policy two-pronged in nature. Politically, the afrocentric perspective stands but economically, “we are now looking at the global order.”