By Victoria Ojeme
ABUJA- Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday tasked the nation’s foreign services to employ the use of sports, entertainment and music in formulation of the nation’s foreign policy, noting that Nigeria over the years have excelled in these areas.
He said the need to showcase the areas where the nation has excel is necessitated by the changing face of diplomacy across the globe.
He was speaking at the maiden edition of the 1st Annual Foreign Service Public Lecture organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The theme of the lecture was, “Reflecting on Nigeria’ Foreign Policy, Diplomacy and Foreign Service”.
According to the VP, Nigeria’s foreign policy should be relevant to present times in order to project the country’s potentials and influence to the world, adding that it should also be able to advance Nigeria’s political cultural and economic vision.
“Indeed, our foreign policy challenge is to be relevant to our times, to project our potential and our influence to the world, and to advance our political, cultural, social and economic vision. This is not as simple as it seems because the world is changing in various ways.
“Globalization requires better management of trade and financial flows just as there is a changing landscape of challenges relating to migration, environment, health and technology across the globe”, he said.
Osinbajo noted that non-state actors especially criminal non-state actors such as terrorist groups, cybercriminals, drug cartels have complicated a security landscape that was once viewed in relatively uncomplicated notions of peace and security.
He added that the developments have accordingly changed the demands on the country’s diplomatic machinery.
“Therein lies the biggest challenge of the Foreign Service of the modern era: adapting to the demands of a new dispensation, whilst managing to hold on to the time-honored tools and traditions of diplomacy.
“Since the traditional responses to all of these issues no longer carry the assuredness of the past, countries today and our country in particular, have to use a more novel variety of tools including soft power to advance their diplomatic objectives.
“In Nigeria, this would mean perhaps leveraging on entertainment, music and sports where we have excelled; our achievements in Nollywood, musical and sports might be useful ways of opening doors for us diplomatically and economically”, he said.
Osinbajo maintained that as the nation’s ear to the world, the Foreign Service has a role and a duty to influence policy at home, to consistently nudge the Government to take action where necessary, in a proactive and engaged manner.
He said: This is especially critical at a time when record numbers of Nigerians are featuring in the tragic narratives of slave camps in North Africa and capsizing boats in the Mediterranean.
“I am pleased to know and to note that our newly-launched Economic Diplomacy Initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, aimed at creating a platform for Nigerian businesses to more easily find and exploit global markets, and to tap the economic potential of the Nigerian diaspora – who tend to be some of the most educated and entrepreneurial populations wherever they are to be found.
“We must do everything in our power to attract more capital to Nigeria, in Oil and Gas, Clean Energy, Agriculture, Transport, Power, Mining, amongst others; to spread the message and support the goals of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
Also speaking, former Head of State General Yakubu Gowon called for adequate funding of the foreign service so as to enable it function effectively.
He commended the ministry for the initiative, adding that the experience garnered from the lecture would facilitate its repositioning as a vital arm of development.
Earlier, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, stated that unlike the misconception in so many quarters of the relevance of foreign service, the mission have contributed greatly to the growth of the country.
He said the lecture is aimed at injecting new ideas that would assist the ministry in formulating policies that would make the country more attractive to foreign investors.
While noting that the country’s policy which was initially centered on Africa, has gradually shifted to economic and citizenship diplomacy, adding that this led the country to facilitate the evacuation of its citizens facing inhuman conditions in Libya.
Onyeama however, lamented that although the country responded swiftly to xenophobic attacks of its nationals in South Africa, the efforts was yet to pay off.