Saminaka (Kaduna State) – The Federal Government said on Friday that a comprehensive review of Nigeria’s foreign policy would help to address corruption, terrorism and other challenges to the nation’s development.
Amb. Bulus Lolo, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said this at a retreat for the assessment of Nigeria’s foreign policy and its delivery capability in Saminaka, Kaduna State on Friday.
Lolo, therefore, urged participants in the retreat to take cognisance of the issues of corruption, terrorism, climate change, and dwindling fortunes from oil, among other challenges to the country’s development, in taking a decision on how Nigeria would remain relevant at the sub-regional, continental, and global levels.
“The intention today is that we will lay the foundation for, hopefully, if government approves, a comprehensive review of our foreign policy.
“The last of which was done in 1986, came out with the famous Huru Declaration. 29 years on, we are not standing at the same spot, things have moved.
“Today we are dealing with terrorism both within and without.
“Oil that has been the mainstay of our economy is fast being challenged by technology.
“Renewable energy is contributing to the global energy mix. Must we continue to rely on oil.
“Government has been talking repeatedly about corruption at all levels, and even the security challenge that we face, what can we learn from others in order to be more secure at home.
“Climate change is across this country showing its devastating impact.
“So these are a few issues that I believe as diplomats we need to reflect on and decide that in our interaction at the bilateral level, in ECOWAS, on the continent and globally, Nigeria must remain relevant.
“I believe that this assessment, therefore, will allow us an opportunity to take on these issues and come up with a basket of items that will guide our conduct mindful of our resources, of our responsibilities and also of the competition that is out there.
“The task for us is to spend the next two days and come up with an agenda that will guide our conduct.
“Government is interested and I assure you the outcome of this retreat will be acted upon.“
The permanent secretary described the country’s foreign policy as an extension of its domestic policy abroad, saying that the decisions made at the retreat would affect Nigeria’s conduct abroad.
“When we have eternal cohesion; when we have good governancel; when we have stability and our people prosper, we act with confidence,“ he said.
He said that the participation of ambassadors from neighbouring countries in the retreat was also an opportunity to review Nigeria’s foreign policy toward Africa.
Lolo said: “When you look at the foreign policy of Nigeria, we have advocated the principle and concept of concentrate circles.
“Around this ring revolves everything we do; and with Africa as both the centre-piece and the cornerstone of our foreign policy, our thinking must derive from what concerns our continent and by extension, our neighbourhood.“
Amb. Pius Ayewoh, Chairman of the session’s general debate, reiterated that the retreat would reappraise the mechanism with which Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives were delivered.
Ayewoh also said that the meeting would seek to influence participants’ output in their various official responsibilities.
“If we do not have a process of assessing and reassessing, we would be tempted to be lured into a state of complacency and the result would be decay.
“There is a purpose for this retreat, for the ultimate enhancement of your performance in the ministry, which would impact on national development.
“We cannot afford to remain in perpetuity in the old ways otherwise we would not make any progress,“ he said.
The two-day retreat is being organised by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs with participants drawn from the ministry and agencies under it.
The ambassadors of Chad, Niger, Benin, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and Sao Tome and Principe to Nigeria are attending the retreat.
The retreat is expected to develop an action plan that will facilitate the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the country’s foreign policy. (NAN)