We need presidential advisory council on foreign affairs
By Sunday Ani
Former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, has stressed the need for a presidential advisory council on foreign affairs to advise the president on the strategic objectives and execution of Nigeria’s foreign policy.
He made the recommendation in a keynote address at the second annual Akintola Williams Distinguished Lecture series, held yesterday at the MUSON Centre in Lagos.
Speaking on the topic, ‘Re-establishing Nigeria’s leadership position in the world,’ the erudite diplomat lamented that Nigeria had lost her leadership role at the world stage.
He attributed the decline in Nigeria’s leadership role in the world to the incursion of military in the country’s governance beginning from 1966.
Chief Anyaoku cited areas in international arena where Nigeria seems to have lost leadership grip to include Nigeria’s helplessness in the wave of Afrophobia in South Africa as well as her declining grip on her immediate West African sub-region.
He lamented that despite the huge financial resources, which Nigeria committed to ensure that South Africans were disentangled from the shackles of apartheid; Nigerians in South Africa had become targets of attack.
He equally regretted that despite Nigeria’s contribution diplomatically, economically, financially and militarily to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Nigeria has lost grip of organization so much that she could not stop the admission of Morocco, a North African nation and member of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), into its fold.
On the implication of a North African nation becoming ECOWAS member, Chief Anyaoku said: “I believe that for its effectiveness and the benefits of the future integration of its members, ECOWAS must remain a strictly geopolitical regional organization whose membership should be limited to only countries in the West Africa geographic space. Besides, extending ECOWAS membership to the Mediterranean Sea will inevitably dilute the organisation’s integration movement.”
He said if Nigeria is to return to the golden age of the country’s foreign policy achievements and high global standing, its domestic situation must be fixed. “Fixing Nigeria’s domestic situation requires that the challenge of political stability as well as its economy and the socio-economic welfare of its citizens must be tackled,” he submitted.
On what must be done for Nigeria to regain her leadership role in the comity of nations, he said for every country, there is a nexus between foreign policy and domestic politics.
“No country can maintain credible leadership position regionally, continentally or globally without a politically stable and sound socio-economic domestic background. And so, for any country to be able to exert a credible influence and maintain a leadership position to be reckoned with in world affairs, it must achieve a reasonable balance between its domestic and foreign policies.
“If Nigeria is to return to the golden age of the country’s foreign policy achievements and high global standing, its domestic situation must be fixed. Fixing Nigeria’s domestic situation requires that the challenge of political stability as well as its economy and the socio-economic welfare of its citizens must be tackled,” he submitted.
The former Common Wealth scribe also lent his voice to the call for restructuring of the country.
He said: “Nigeria must restructure its present “unitarist” governance architecture by returning to the true federalism which our founding fathers negotiated and wisely agreed in the 1960/63 constitutions to be the most suitable structure for the stability and development of our multi-ethnic and multi-religious country.
“With the number and nature of the ongoing agitations in several parts of the country, our present leadership, including especially the Senate, which two weeks ago, rejected a motion for devolution of powers, seem to be indifferent to the fact that Nigeria is currently sleepwalking to a national disaster.”