What Diplomacy Cannot Do for Nigeria

By: Idumange John

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs can be likened to a marketing department of a firm. The foreign policy of any State is designed mainly to protect and advance the national
interest of the people. According to Alfred Thayer Mahan, an American naval
officer, “Self-interest is not only legitimate, but a fundamental, cause for
national policy; one which needs no cloak of hypocrisy. A virile public
diplomacy can be instrumental to the development of a nation.

Diplomacy is the art of conducting and implementing foreign policy. It is the process by which diplomats seek to achieve foreign-policy goals through the instrumentality of
negotiations and bargaining by State and non-State actors. The essence of diplomacy
is bargaining, which involves the use of both the carrot and the stick. Because
of the importance attached to economic diplomacy, some nations appoint highly
specialized commercial diplomats. Economic welfare is a key preoccupation of
the foreign and domestic policies of a state.
paramount objective of diplomacy for any state is the creation and maintenance
of adequate safeguards for continued existence and for mutual advantage of the

Recently, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Odein Ajumogobia fielded questions on a huge range of issues. His comments permeated very
salient issues affecting Nigeria’s national interest and stability. By my own
assessment, diplomacy moved
away from
government to government to other non-state actors, who try to influence a
greater audience in a world where communication has been facilitated by
informatics. Diplomacy - viewed from the perspective a part of science,
diplomacy is an indispensable tool of statecraft, which could be accomplished
through the instrumentality of accredited officials, which in the case of
Nigeria is the Foreign Ministry.

The Foreign Minister, took a historical excursion to point out the efforts of the leaders to unite a diverse nation made up of a mosaic of 250 separate and distinct ethnic nationalities
into a modern nation. Again The Minister mentioned the protracted military
juntas occasioned by destabilizing coup
d’etats, and a fratricidal 30-month civil war. He pointed to the fact that
Nigeria has been able to overcome the centrifugal forces of primordial ethnic nationalism, religious
diversity and the colonial hangover –
which have made unity and stability extremely difficult. These are facts of
history we cannot ignore.

On Vision 20:2020, the foreign Minister said “President Goodluck Jonathan is unrelenting in his advocacy of this vision. It has become evident that the president is determined to do all
that is necessary to firmly place Nigeria on the path of constitutional
democracy and good governance, through the conduct of free and fair elections
and ensuring transparency and accountability. He went further “ Nigeria has
witnessed a series of fundamental changes in the nation’s electoral system. The
era of impunity, electoral fraud and malpractices is about to end, as
far-reaching changes are taking place in the electoral commission, but the
impunity of PDP may be a worse dictatorship.

Nigerians know that for the better part of three years now, national crises including political National crises are increasingly being resolved constitutionally, and the Nigerian people are
beginning to reassert their rights to hold their leaders accountable. Despite
the fact that there are still many areas of weakness that require improvement,
it is encouraging that most neutral analysis of Nigeria concludes that things
are improving and that Nigeria is getting better. To recapture our lost years,
the government of President Jonathan has embarked on a long term development
plan, to significantly enlarge Nigeria’s economy and capacity by the year 2020.
In diplomatic language, state actors say what is not achievable in so far as
the national interest of their countries are at stake. In a dynamic society
such as our, diplomacy should serve a more constructive purpose.

The Minister was right when he posited that President Jonathan has set in motion a process of profound political and economic reform. These reforms were initially initiated by his
two civilian predecessors to engender political stability, economic growth, wealth
and job creation. At the core of this reform is rejuvenating a policy of
uncompromising supremacy of the rule of law, transparency, accountability,
openness and due process in governance and in procurement. There can be no
doubt that the prevalence of such democratic values in combination with
policies and the will to finally harness its vast resources, entrepreneurial
talent and creative capacity of the Nigerian people - as well, of course, as
appropriate support from our friends-will propel Nigeria to realize its
potential, to be among the 20 largest economies in the world in less than a

Nigeria has been involved in peace-keeping but at whose cost? It is true that Nigeria should be involved in peace-keeping for strategic reasons but strategic reasons are not enough to
invest massively in a democracy of another country while Nigeria’s democratic
structures are fledgling. Nigeria still maintains the largest contingents of
peacekeeping forces in Darfur and Liberia and in many ways has borne the
highest cost. The African Union is now advocating a change of mandate for
AMISOM, that’s the hybrid peacekeeping force in Somalia, from peacekeeping to
peace enforcement. While the FM may be said to be right, the value all these
have added to good governance ala democracy
is difficult to quantify.

Nigeria is the biggest economy in West Africa and the second-largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, responsible, even with the current challenges it faces, for over 60 percent of the region’s
GDP. With a population estimated at 150 million, Africa’s most populous nation
has a youthful population and the hope that that brings. With respect to
natural resources, Nigeria currently has the sixth largest deposits of gas in
the world and (is) the eighth largest producer of petroleum in the world. More
than 34 solid minerals exist in exploitable commercial quantities, but Nigeria
is yet to develop the solid mineral sector to maximize economic growth.

Sometime ago, Olu Adeniji observed that “the more affluent and self-reliant the economy is, the greater the possibility for a more independent and influential policy”. Not
only are African states unable to exercise adequate influence on world events,
they are in most cases, compelled to re-order their foreign policy goals to
accord with domestic economic strength and external interests. Because of
Nigeria’s mono-product economy, the nation’s ability to generate and expend
power in the international system is very limited. For example, Nigeria is the
largest producer of crude oil in Africa and the sixth largest oil produces in
the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), yet the Human
Development Report of the United Nations shows that over 70 percent of the 150
million people live below the poverty line. The poverty index among the urban
poor and rural dwellers is so overwhelming that many people believe that the natural endowments of the
nation have become a source of stagnation.

These strong economic blocs woo the LDCs with a promise of enlarging their economic space but they lack the institutional genes and capacity to benefit optimally from
globalization. Presently, Nigeria cannot evolve any sustainable economic model
to escape the poverty-insecurity nexus. On the contrary, we are running a war
economy, with all indices such as infant and maternal mortality,
life-expectancy rate, unemployment and low productivity as signals that we are
inching towards the slippery slope of failure. It is now obvious that the formal
economic space will be narrow even as the criminal economy expands

The reality of the Nigeria situation is that the political space seems to be expanding but there is a tendency towards one party system. This is evidenced
in the gale of carpet-crossing to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Nigeria is on the fast lane to a one party system, and this a dangerous signal
for democracy in the land. There is also the crying need to entrench internal
democracy within the PDP - which has become the greatest liability and obstacle
to good governance in Nigeria.

There can be no disputing the fact that Nigeria is well endowed with natural and human resource but the economy is grossly mismanaged by a band of economy opportunists and it does appear that the Federal Government seem
helpless in prosecuting the principle perpetrators and accomplices. The
argument that Nigeria GDP manageable high but vision 20:2020 is not achievable
because the nation’s wealth is frittered off shores by a few corrupt
politicians. Corruption is a very lethal threat to the pursuit of good
governance, and our diplomacy should be tilted in this direction.

Nigeria is not industrializing and diplomacy cannot establish industries in Nigeria. Diplomacy cannot also eradicate poverty, but diplomacy can assist in negotiating debt
relief, encourage Foreign Direct Investments (FDI’s) in the non-oil sector.
Nigeria can also use the instrumentality of diplomacy to promote policies that
are capable of strengthening existing institutions to fight corruption and entrench
good governance. Diplomacy cannot create employment for youths but can promote
conditions favourable for macroeconomic policies to flourish. Diplomacy without
morality cannot address the Niger Delta crisis because there is no culture on
earth that would expropriate a people of their natural resources without
compensation. However, diplomacy can compel the Multinationals to take their
Corporate Social Responsibilities more seriously, but not without giving the
people of the NDR a sense of ownership of their land and resources. Nigeria needs
an effective leadership that can explore these possibilities.

If the present conditions persist, the scourge of poverty would reach unimaginable dimensions. The conditions in urban centres would also worsen with more shantytowns, more
congested roads, more beggars and more delinquents. Thus at 50, Nigeria would
be grappling with the very notion of national sovereignty in all its
ramifications. It is against this background that most Nigerians believe the 50th
independence anniversary of the nation does not deserve the grandeur, trumpeting
and fanfare the Federal Government has proposed for it. It would send a clear
message if Nigerians celebrate the anniversary in sobriety without the

Idumange John, is a Fellow of the Institute of Public Management, Nigeria

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