By Jimoh Babatunde
To stem the growing anti-immigrants attacks against Nigerian nationals abroad, the Federal Government has been urged to reassess its soft power strategies; as such methods have not been generating desired results.
Government’s instruments of soft power include movie and music industry, peacekeeping missions, foreign aid as well as supports for the liberation of brotherly African nations.
A foreign-trained strategic security expert and Chief Executive Officer, Scutarii Advisory, Mr. Hilly Cookey-Gam said those diplomatic instruments have not yielded the needed impacts, noting that the problem may not necessarily be the under-utilization of available tools, but with the strategy.
According to him, reliable research and analysis should form the basis of any soft power strategy as part of a comprehensive national security strategy.
H said government has implemented the strategy without proper analysis of the actual challenges facing the Country’s influence and prestige abroad.
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Explaining further, Cookey-Gam recalled that between 2015 and 2017, there was a large-scale protests by South Africans against foreigners, including Nigerian citizens, disclosing with dismay, that government did not endeavour to ascertain why its past efforts failed, rather it went ahead to launch a new strategy to strengthen the ties between South Africans and Nigerians.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohamed while unveiling the new strategic policy in 2017, described it as cultural diplomacy.
According to Cookey-Gam, few years down the line, the attacks against Nigerians in South Africa began, resulting in loss of lives and properties.
As if it was not enough, Nigerians have also witnessed increasing vilification and hatred by Ghanaians, which in retrospect, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ghana, Ms Hanna Tetteh warned about in 2017.
The former Minister, who decried the attitude of fellow citizens to Nigerians, warned against such attacks, saying the unforeseen risks of xenophobia would be better imagined.
“While it is arguable that the time is too short to see the results of the government’s cultural diplomacy policy, it is almost certain such a strategy is doomed to fail because it is not underpinned by accurate research and analysis”, he noted.
“Soft power is the projection of a nation’s culture, values, language and general way of life”, he stated, adding that in Ghana and many other African countries, the citizens love, listen and view Nigerian music and movies on daily basis while Nigerians and the government are despised and branded criminals or corrupt’’.
The problem, therefore, is not the absence or of or the under-utilization of soft power tools as no amount of soft power can overcome the hatred against Nigerians in the Diaspora due to the sheer number of Nigerian immigrants, who threaten the jobs of the locals and lack the emotional intelligence to behave like the Romans when in Rome” he stressed.