The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said Nigeria must review its foreign policy to protect its national interest in the changing global community.
Mr Gbajabiamila said this in Abuja at a conference on the review of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy, organised by the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora on Monday.
He said the review was long overdue, adding that so many things have changed since the 1960s when Nigeria’s foreign policy first came into play.
“Technology has changed the way we conduct business and has created an opportunity for millions across the world.
“It has also made us vulnerable because the technology platforms and tools that have become such important parts of our lives are themselves susceptible to the people who will seek to use them to hurt us.
“Terrorists, criminals and bad actors of all faces now have access to tools that would enable them to operate with ease while avoiding detective agencies.
“No country in the world can meet these challenges alone, we need a global response and we need each other,” he said.
Mr Gbajabiamila added, “Our nation’s foreign policy should define our terms of engagement with the rest of the world so that we can each survive together.
“If we say the world is dynamic and we live in one global village, it is time for us to review our foreign policy.”
He said a deep look into Nigeria’s foreign policy might reveal aspects the country needs to fix.
“So sometimes, inherent in foreign policy are contradictions, so I’m sure if we look deeply in our foreign policy we might have some contradictions, contradictions that may work for us and contradictions that may not work for us and that is why this review is very important.
“This is why the review is very important; foreign policy can shape economic, social and political issues and must be taken very seriously,” he said.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffery Onyeama defined foreign policy as a set of self-interest strategies chosen by a state to safeguard national interest.
He said the aim was to achieve set goals in a nation’s relationship with other countries at the multilateral level.
The minister said foreign policy was dynamic and highly responsive to changing priorities and interests.
According to Mr Onyeama, Nigeria’s foreign policy has been evolving in line with its strategic national interests.
“Under President Muhammadu Buhari, the Buhari doctrine is anchored on the pillars of good neighbourliness, peaceful coexistence with all countries, on African regional cooperation and multilateralism.
“Under Buhari, it focuses on sustainable economy, social inclusion and poverty reduction, increased agricultural output for security, energy sufficiency, transport expansion and infrastructure development, education, healthcare, good governance,” he said.
The Chair, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Adamu Bulkachuwa, described the retreat as the right step that will move the nation in the right direction to achieve a favourable foreign policy.
He said many things had changed since 1960 and that with the end of the Cold War, even Russia had become a capitalist state.
He said many countries like the Asian Tigers had emerged strong but most African countries were still struggling to survive.
“This is why this conference is so important because, with foreign policy, we can change the situation; but we have to first realign our own domestic policy.
“Foreign policy must be based on our interest; we have an enormous challenge, it is therefore imperative that we review not only our foreign policy but indeed the totality of our system politically, socially and economically,” he said.
The Chair, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Yakub Buba (APC-Adamawa), said the need for periodic review of foreign policy in a fast pace and highly dynamic world cannot be overemphasised.
He said it was about time Nigeria had a comprehensive document that can be addressed as the foreign policy of the country.
“Foreign policy in its true nature is dynamic; such a policy must maximize the gains of its relationship with the outside world.
“With the 54 gentlemen and women chosen from a long list of career diplomats, scholars in various fields and quality and experienced individuals of diverse competencies, we will be here to jaw jaw over various presentations.
“This is to fashion a way forward for our country to assume its place of pride within the global diplomatic circles of the 21 century,” he said.
The Chair, House Committee on Diaspora, Tolulope Shadipe-Akande (APC-Oyo), drew attention to the plight of Nigerians in Diaspora and the state of Nigerian foreign missions and embassies across the globe.
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