Nigeria emerged as an independent country from the shackles of British colonial rule on October 1, 1960 like a Colossus. It immediately announced its masterful presence as the nation charged to lead the rest of Africa away from the bondage of the ages.
Nigeria crafted a comprehensive Foreign Policy objective that has Africa as its centre piece and then deployed its vast human and material resources to pursue these objectives with vigour.
Nigerian diplomacy transcends its national interests because it captures the essence of the African renaissance with its immense contributions to the political and economic emancipation of the rest of Africa still under colonial rule and other forms of oppression around the world.
Nigeria’s quest for global peace has seen unprecedented contributions it has made in peace keeping operations around the world. Nigerian troops were in the UN peace keeping role in the Congo in the 1960s. Nigerian contingent was in Burma, now Myanmar and many more countries on peace keeping missions.
Nigeria was regarded as the frontline state following its immense contributions to the liberation struggles in Southern Africa especially against the Apartheid regime in South Africa. The freedom of South Africa from Apartheid in 1994, the Independence of Zimbabwe in 1980 and the independence of Namibia in 1990, all had the footprints of Nigeria.
Nearer home in West Africa, Nigeria through the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) carried the burden of peace keeping and restoration of democratic order in Liberia, in Sierra Leone after both nations suffered brutal civil wars in the 1990s.
Although Nigeria has made great diplomatic exploits in championing the political emancipation and peace of Africa and the rest of the third world, even to the current times, the world has changed so much in recent times such that the freedom which other nations obtained from Nigeria’s sweat and blood may not have benefited Nigeria as events in recent times have proven.
For instance, South Africa, which enjoyed a large chunk of Nigeria’s contributions to her freedom from Apartheid, appears to be at incessant loggerheads with Nigeria over the treatment some of its misguided citizens meted out to Nigerians living in the former Apartheid enclave. 2019 was the climax of the sustained xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa, where businesses belonging to Nigerians were attacked and looted with the South African government looking helpless.
In Ghana, the Nigerian government is currently battling to protect Nigerian citizens that have been subjected to sever discriminatory business policies and ceaseless attacks and closures of their businesses in the former Gold Coast.
Recently in Indonesia, a Nigerian diplomatic, Abdulrahman Ibrahim, was molested by the country’s immigration officials even when they knew his status. Before the controversy generated by this ugly incident could die down, a similar incident occurred in DR. Congo, where Nigerian diplomatic officials were subjected to very humiliating and harrowing experience allegedly by officials of that country.
Ordinary innocent Nigerians, who have gone to seek greener pastures abroad have been killed or illegally detained in many countries of the world even though it must be acknowledged that some Nigerian citizens have engaged in criminal activities abroad.
But why would Nigeria, the giant, which made significant contributions to world peace and order be looking helpless while it fortunes dwindle around the world and its citizens disrespected, molested, jailed and in extreme cases killed?
Former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bulus Lolo, in a recent interview with LEADERSHIP, blamed it on the current economic situation in the country in successive years, which has forced many of the country’s citizens to look for greener pastures abroad and greatly affected the image of the country negatively.
He also called for a comprehensive review of Nigeria’s foreign policy to reflect the national interest of the country in any foreign engagements.
Today Nigeria is regarded as the poverty capital of the world according to Brookings Institute and World Poverty Clock, which suggests that nearly half of the nation’s population of 200 million languishes in extreme poverty.
In the interview Ambassador Lolo said “foreign policy is essentially a reflection of domestic policy, where what happens at home influences your action abroad. A stable, peaceful, prosperous Nigeria will project a Nigeria that is strong, a Nigeria that is vocal and a Nigeria that is active at the global level. And by so doing you will be able to extend your reach beyond your borders.
“But for Nigeria to be referred to as the poverty capital of the world, I think is a challenge to our leaders because the issue of governance contributes to this undeserving description of Nigeria as the headquarters of poverty. Nigerians must demand from the leaders why they plunged the nation into poverty when we are so well endowed.”
He called for foreign policy review saying, “in the 60s, 70s, 80s and into the 90s, Apartheid for instance drove our Foreign Policy, but we are no longer dealing with a country under colonial domination, but today we have terrorism, climate change, globalization, COVID- 19, small arms and light weapons.
“The content of our foreign policy should respond to our development agenda in the UN and other international organizations.”