What we need to do therefore is to invest in Nigerians and then use our foreign policy to promote the Nigerian. Foreigners already know that Nigerians are energetic, enterprising and resourceful. Let us build on this from inside out, then leverage on it in our foreign policy.


Nigeria’s foreign policy is in the doldrums. Our foreign ministry is currently comatose. The truth of the matter is that Nigerian foreign policy makers do not know what foreign policy entails. We claim to be the largest “exporter of peace” in Africa and the fourth largest worldwide. But what is the point of being a proverbial exporter of peace abroad when there is no peace at home?

At one point, we also fashioned ourselves as exporters of democracy. But how can we be exporters of democracy when we specialise in rigging and annulling elections at home? In any case, how is exporting democracy going to feed our teeming population?

Foreign policy is about using diplomatic means to promote the interests of the Nigerian people. A foreign policy without tangible benefit to the man in the street in Nigeria is a waste of time.

Buhari Administration

The Buhari government goes everywhere preaching the anti-corruption gospel. The idea seems to be to convince foreigners that Nigeria is now serious about dealing with corruption, and so they should please come and deal with Nigeria. However, the anti-corruption struggle cannot be a foreign policy platform. If Nigeria is corrupt, it is corrupt. If it is not, it is not. You don’t go around saying your country is anti-corruption and expect foreign nations to take you at your word.

As a matter of fact, the more the Nigerian leadership talks of the anti-corruption struggle, the more emphasis it places on corruption in Nigeria. Nobody believes Nigeria’s current anti-corruption rhetoric, not even Nigerians. Foreigners don’t have to listen to Nigeria government’s propaganda about the anti-corruption effort. They confront Nigeria’s corruption first thing at Nigerian airports.

Transparency International continues to rate Nigeria low on the anti-corruption index; even worse today than under Goodluck Jonathan. In 2014, Nigeria was ranked the 136th most corrupt country, out of 178 ranked countries. But today, it is ranked 148th out of 180 countries surveyed. So, how does preaching the anti-corruption message help us under these circumstances?

The government of Nigeria cannot preach against corruption and then go from one corruption scandal to the other. The truth us that there is no transparency in the current government’s anti-corruption posture.

Then there is the nagging issue of security. The government claims it has defeated Boko Haram, but the insurgency contonuously has this tendency to rise from the dead. Indeed, victory parades on the defeat of Boko Haram have become particularly dangerous, given their tendency of the group to provoke new dare-devil attacks. One thing is certain, Boko Haram might have been degraded, but it is still alive and kicking; creating systematic havoc, especially in Nigeria’s North-East.

Moreover, the Boko Haram insurgency has been eclipsed by another deadlier enemy; that of the Fulani herdsmen. These people have gone on the rampage, maiming and killing innocent Nigerians, with the government acting as mere onlookers and bystanders. There is yet another development that bodes ill for Nigeria’s foreign relations: the attacks on churches and the killing of Christians in the North. So many churches have been destroyed and Christians killed without recourse, in ways and manners that suggest Christian-cleansing.

 

Inside-out Foreign Policy

There is need for a paradigm shift in the worldview of the Nigerian leadership. While we certainly have difficulty convincing non-Nigerians that we are not a corrupt country, they don’t need assurance that Nigeria’s greatest asset is its people. Nigerians are everywhere, working creditably in different capacities in different countries. The Nigerian is a bundle of talents that excel in so many different capacities. Countries the world over can attest to this.

The United Nations projects Nigeria’s population to be 389 million by 2050, rivalling that of the United States at 403 million. By the end of the century, the U.N. projects that Nigeria’s population would be between 900 million and 1 billion, nearing that of China, which would by then be the second most populous country in the world after India.

…our president should not go abroad and tell the world Nigerian youth are lazy and irresponsible. On one trip, he claimed Nigerian youth: “sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare and education free.” This is a gross misrepresentation. He should not go to Germany and say Nigerian women are only good for “the kitchen, the living room and the other room.”


What we need to do therefore is to invest in Nigerians and then use our foreign policy to promote the Nigerian. Foreigners already know that Nigerians are energetic, enterprising and resourceful. Let us build on this from inside out, then leverage on it in our foreign policy.

This means “boko” cannot be “haram” in Nigeria. Under no circumstances can the reading of books be forbidden. Education must become a priority at all levels, with no child left behind as a matter of policy. Nigerians must be learned. Nigerians must be skilled. Nigerians must be industrious.

This means we have to transform our education system, synchronising education to industry needs. We cannot see job creation as the government creating artificial jobs. Job creation must mean producing the manpower to suit needs. Apprenticeship at companies and industrial plants must be synchronised with vocational training in schools.

New Ambassadors

This also means our president should not go abroad and tell the world Nigerian youth are lazy and irresponsible. On one trip, he claimed Nigerian youth: “sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare and education free.” This is a gross misrepresentation. He should not go to Germany and say Nigerian women are only good for “the kitchen, the living room and the other room.”

 

When Prime Minister Cameron of Great Britain told Queen Elizabeth that Nigeria is fantastically corrupt, President Buhari of Nigeria agreed with him, claiming Cameron must know what he is talking about. This shows Buhari is the wrong man for the job of president. The president is the chief ambassador of any country, but president Buhari has been a very poor ambassador indeed.

Nigeria needs new people at the forefront of our foreign policy. We need Nigerians who believe in Nigeria and in Nigerians. We need Nigerians who are young, forwar

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