…By Joseph Benjamin for TDPel Media.
After eight years of the Muhammadu Buhari-led Presidency, Nigeria ushers in a new era with the inauguration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the 16th President of Nigeria on May 29, 2023.
As the country transitions to new leadership, expectations are high regarding the changes that will be implemented in personnel and policies.
Domestic Policy Changes
President Tinubu has already taken decisive action by ending the fuel subsidy regime that has been a dominant economic topic in Nigeria for over three decades.
This move sets the tone for further domestic policy changes that will address the country’s numerous challenges.
While the focus initially lies on domestic policies, it is essential to closely monitor President Tinubu’s approach and its impact on Nigeria.
Redefining Nigeria’s Foreign Policy
Nigeria’s foreign policy has lacked direction and effectiveness in recent years, particularly since the Obasanjo Presidency.
The absence of a clear strategy, focus, and leadership has resulted in a fragmented approach, with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission seemingly taking the lead over the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
President Tinubu must prioritize appointing a capable individual to lead the Ministry, someone with both theoretical knowledge and practical experience, similar to Bolaji Akinyemi, who served as Foreign Minister from 1985 to 1987.
Avoiding Politicization of the Ministry
To avoid compromising the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, President Tinubu should refrain from appointing politicians solely for their domestic political careers.
Balancing the need for change with a commitment to achieving tangible results is crucial.
The turnover rate of Foreign Ministers during the Peoples Democratic Party’s 16-year rule was excessively high, while the last Minister under the All Progressive Party remained in office for eight years without making a significant impact.
Both scenarios failed to serve the nation’s interests and must be avoided in the future.
Aligning Foreign Policy with Domestic Goals
President Tinubu must recognize that foreign policy is an extension of domestic policy.
Aligning Nigeria’s foreign policy with his domestic agenda is crucial, with security, the economy, and national unity taking precedence.
Strengthening partnerships with global actors to address Nigeria’s security challenges, particularly terrorism and its international links, should be a priority.
The President should look to the United States’ model, where the State Department and the Defense Department collaborate to project strength and ensure national security.
Revamping Economic Diplomacy
President Tinubu should conduct a comprehensive review of Nigeria’s economic diplomacy playbook.
Nigeria’s hesitance to take a leading role in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) hindered the country’s influence and resulted in playing catch-up to other nations.
A recalibration is necessary to position Nigeria at the forefront of African integration efforts and regain its role as Africa’s intellectual powerhouse.
Ending Beggarly Diplomacy
Shuttle diplomacy, where the Nigerian President joins other African leaders on individual visits to Asian, European, and American countries, should be discontinued.
These visits often yield limited development outcomes and portray Africa as a dependent continent.
President Tinubu must encourage Africa to engage collectively through the African Union platform.
If other African countries continue this trend, Nigeria should disassociate itself from such practices.
Optimizing the Role of NIDCOM
President Tinubu inherits the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), established in 2017, which has experienced mixed success in engaging Nigerians abroad for national development.
Integrating NIDCOM into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, particularly due to its consular functions, would ensure better coordination and eliminate disharmony in public communication.
Reporting to the Ministry of Information and National Orientation could further enhance its effectiveness.
Harnessing Nigeria’s Soft Power
Nigeria’s most significant soft power lies in its music industry, specifically Afrobeats.
President Tinubu must seize this opportunity to leverage the global popularity of Nigerian music as a tool for foreign policy.
Despite the achievements of Nigerian artists, the country has failed to incorporate their success into its diplomatic efforts.
President Tinubu should rectify this oversight and capitalize on the cultural influence of Nigerian music.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has a unique chance to steer Nigeria’s foreign policy in a new, focused, and energetic direction.
Nigeria’s reemergence as Africa’s leading voice, beacon of light, and economic powerhouse is eagerly awaited worldwide.
President Tinubu’s success in both domestic and international arenas carries significant implications for the country.
It is essential for him to seize this opportunity and make a lasting impact over the next four years.
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