Nigeria’s Foreign Policy No Longer Practical – Analyst

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framework of the nation’s foreign policy exists only on paper and is not practical as the principles therein are outdated and irrelevant in contemporary times.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while speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, decried the continued inclusion of two outdated principles, decolonisation and non-alignment, in the framework.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
  • Non-alignment
  • Multilateral diplomacy
  • Decolonization
  • 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.”

2013 Economic Review: Analysts Advocate Support For Local Industry

Experts in Nigeria’s banking and commerce industries have emphasized the need for Nigeria to develop infrastructure if its dream of building local industry would be fulfilled in the year 2014.

A Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, CIBN, Alex Ananeje, made this statement while appearing on the breakfast programme, Sunrise on Channels Television.

A Director of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, Dele Alimi, who was also a guest on the programme, added that there is no way the Nigerian economy can grow if the government does not provide an enabling environment for local businesses to thrive.

On its final edition for the year 2013, the programme sought to do a review of Nigeria’s performance during the year, and according to Alimi, “If we solve the problem of power in Nigeria, you will be shocked at the level of growth that will follow.”

While making his case for the Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, Mr Alimi noted that statistics have shown that SMEs are responsible for over 30 million jobs in Nigeria. A figure he said means that they actually drive the economy. Therefore the country cannot afford to let the sector suffer.

Although, he agreed that the structure of many SMEs in Nigeria is not good enough, especially when the need to access funding is concerned, as only few lenders would want to release money to some of these small businesses considering the way they are run, but because the country needs that sector to thrive, then it must do all things to help business owners restructure their ventures; a role he said the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, has been taking seriously.

Looking back at 2013, Mr Ananeje said that we (Nigeria) “could have done better as far as our economy is concerned”

Mr Alimi however added a different perspective to how much below par Nigeria’s economic performance had been during the year. He said that the cost of governance in Nigeria is too high, and there have been no real efforts to bring it down.

He alleged that the efforts made by the government, claiming to have reduced the salaries of government officials are deceptive, arguing that they only reduced their basic salaries while the large allowances are still being paid.

He asked for renewed policies to drive the economy, starting with developing programmes that will affect the people directly; from the farmers to the barbershop owners. He said that we need to build an economy where a barber can start his business without first bothering about acquiring a power generator.

Looking ahead, Alex Ananeje warned that the country is going to have some serious challenges in 2014, especially for the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN: “We are entering the election year and more money will be pumped into the system, there has to be a stronger monetary policy put in place”