…Nigeria’s Foreign Policy Deficit Of National Passion, Says
By Bukar Bolori
The Chief of Staff, CoS, to President Mohammadu Buhari, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, has decried that the nation’s foreign policy does not showcase Nigeria’s worldview, national interests, and values.
Gambari gave this assessment in Abuja while delivering a speech at the public presentation of a book entitled: “With Heart and Might” written by Ambassador Mohammed Kawu Ibrahim, a notable diplomat.
Dignitaries at the launch include Governor of Borno state, Professor Babagana Zulum, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Isa Marte as the chairman at the event, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero; Chief of Staff to the President Ibrahim Gambari, and other retired and serving top diplomats.
According to Gambari, the task of foreign policy is the task of furthering the absolute necessity of promoting; defending; and advancing the clearly articulated national interest values and goals of a country and as that country interacts with or assists in the international system.
He explained that the book, With Heart and Might was apt and addressed some of the lapses of Nigeria’s foreign policies and how it has affected Nigeria’s domestic politics and policy.
Gambari said: “There is a direct relationship between domestic politics and the conduct of a country’s external relations because you see, you can’t give abroad what you don’t have at home and that is why this links between domestic politics, policy and the conduct of external relations are very important.
“Therefore the task of foreign policy is the task of furthering the absolute necessity to promote, defend, advance the clearly articulated national interest values and goals of a country and as that country interacts with or states in the international system in this memoir, M.K Ibrahim, reasserted the fundamental linkage between the domestic and external politics which shape the external policies of the state based on shared benefits.”
He added that: “Foreign policy is not about “dogo turenchi” which is reserved for the kind of elite that is assembled in this hall, it is more than that. It is an external projection of the values that we have as a nation. It is also the promotion of our national interest and our worldview because other countries want to know where we stand on issues, that’s why not just input in the General Assembly of the UN or the ECOWAS or even in the African Union, but generally articulated at home, where do we stand? What do we value? What are our priorities as a nation? What are the national interests that we wish to defend? Therefore, in my view, we need to continue to struggle to build a national consensus behind the articulation, design and defense of our national interest in the new millennium, which is based on the promotion of peace and security, sustainable development, as well as the development and democratization at home and abroad.”
He said: “In this regard, Nigeria must continue to establish both in principle and practice the approach that it is no longer enough to seek what your country can do for others, but what we can do together with others in the pursuit of our common interests. And it is our duty and diplomacy to persuade others that is in their own interest to try to support us what we propose, promote as a national interest and if you don’t agree with this, just look at what Israel has managed to do with the United States they have made their interest, the interest of the United States.
“in the articulation and promotion because you’re adding to your power, you’re adding to your identity of prestige when other countries adopt as their interest, what you define as your interest. And it’s very important to know and that’s the skill of diplomacy. And that’s where you have to recruit the best and the brightest, you know, to not only define your interest but to get other people to define their interest in your own interests, and that is one of the successes of any country’s diplomacy. So as I said, the principle and practice of bodies shared responsibility to govern even those external endeavors which are in our own interest. And that is why in this context, building African institutions like the Lake Chad Basin Commission, like the ECOWAS, the African Union, African Development Bank, African Export Import Bank, has become a distinct feature of the Buhari administration’s foreign policy and our country’s diplomacy.”
The COS, said: “I wouldn’t use the term concentric circles because somebody unknown has been associated with that concept, but whether in theory and practice, you will find that you have to begin at home and then widen do your circle of interest and effectiveness around your neighbor then you review, then your continent then association such as a commonwealth, such as non aligned movement G7, but the court must always be at home, the defense and pursuit of our national interests based on promotion of peace and security, economic prosperity of our people, and the values that we share in terms of democratization and human rights.”
The Governor of Borno state, Professor Babagana Zulum who was represented by his chief of staff, Professor Isa Marte, in his speech pointed out that for the first three decades of Nigeria’s independence, apart from the protection of Nigeria’s territorial integrity, there was no foreign policy issue that Nigeria had pursued with unrelenting commitment as the fight against colonialism in Africa and ending Apartheid in South Africa.
He stated further that one of the issues bedeviling the foreign policy of the country is that these foreign policies lacked national passion and commitment.
He said: “All great nations have clearly defined foreign policies, which entail the defense of the territorial integrity of the nation and the protection of the interests of her citizens both within and outside the country. For the first three decades of her independence, apart from the protection of Nigeria’s territorial integrity, there was no foreign policy issue that Nigeria had pursued with unrelenting commitment as the fight against colonialism in Africa and ending Apartheid in South Africa.
“Since successfully bringing these inhuman vices against Africa and the Blackman to an end, Nigeria has not taken up any foreign policy foray with the same national passion and commitment. This continues to be one of the major challenges of our foreign policy.”
On his part, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero commended the effort of Amb. Ibrahim in his new book, stating that it has raised the stakes for anyone having the ambition to write a similar book particularly from the Foreign Service family.
He further urged all Foreign Service Officers to emulate Amb. Ibrahim by putting pen to paper to document for posterity the rich and the invaluable experiences they garnered and the sacrifices they made over the years from the different countries they have served during their postings around the globe.
Also speaking during the event, Amb. Ibrahim expressed gratitude to all the dignitaries that graced the occasion, stating that he will continue to exert efforts in ensuring that Nigeria gains its ground in the international community.