By Jude Atupulazi
Former Governor of Anambra State and 2023 presidential aspirant, Mr. Peter Obi, has advised the Federal Government to focus on developing a strong economy that will reflect on its foreign policy.
Obi who stated this while addressing journalists during the public presentation of the book titled: “Reflections on Nigeria’s Foreign Policy 1960–2020”, co-authored by Toby Okechukwu, Deputy Minority Leader of the House in Abuja, said with Nigeria’s economy headed south, it would be difficult to have a strong foreign policy.
According to him, you cannot contribute outside when you are not even doing well inside.
According to him, ‘If you have a strong economy and an expected economic development pace that is strong, that reflects your foreign policy, the way people take you, relate with you, see you; as it is today, if you look at Nigeria in terms of economy and everything, we are headed south. So, it is difficult to have a strong foreign policy because what are you going to contribute outside when you are not even doing well inside?
‘We should focus on turning around Nigeria from consumption to development, pulling Nigerians out of poverty and ensuring that you build a better future for Nigerians and then you have a strong domestic policy where people have employment and everything, and then, that translates to your foreign policy,’ he said.
Delivering his remarks, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, said Nigeria, Africa and the world were currently confronted with challenges that affected everyone. He stressed that a global response was the best way to ensure collective survival for all.
He said international collaboration was necessary to find solutions that would improve the lives and circumstances of people all over the world caused by issues ranging from public health to terrorism and the myriad difficulties of globalisation.
The Speaker also said from experience, Nigeria’s foreign policy must, ‘unapologetically define the terms on which it engages the rest of the world to address the different manifestations of her shared challenges.’
He expressed optimism that the book would enlighten and influence the country’s foreign policy decision makers.
In his address, former Foreign Affairs Minister, Aminu Wali, said Nigeria deserved permanent membership of the United Nations Security than any country in Africa but had not been able to achieve that because of lack of continental cooperation.
Wali, who was the chairman of the occasion observed that while Nigeria might have a policy that was afrocentric, she was not getting the same respect that she gave her neighbors and colleagues in Africa
Corroborating, the Deputy Minority Leader and co-author of the book, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, noted that Nigeria’s afrocentric commitment was not adequately reciprocated by her African counterparts.
He said the nagging issue of the country’s shrinking voice in critical diplomatic circles might also be appreciated, vis-à-vis contemporary socio-economic challenges at home.