Buhari’s Foreign Policy, G8 And The Third Alternative – By Elharun Muhammad

PDP Queries President Buhari’s London ‘Technical Stopover’


buhari in london alone

The prevailing International environment the new President of Nigeria finds himself in is sharply characterize by terrorism and its counter force, Neoliberalism, Nuclear deals, dwindling oil prices, Biofuel technology, BRICKS,  stalled 2 states solutions as major land marks. In rare diplomatic encounter, President Muhammadu Buhari, soonest after his inauguration, assumes the Chief foreign policy officer of his Government, So resolute that he cannot wait for a minister, least an Ambassador. He travelled to Niger Republic and Chad with a plan to go to Cameroun. This is an obvious undertaking against the background of common psych cultural and socio economic dynamics that made these countries one and extension of the other for centuries. This diplomatic sojourn fully suggests that Nigeria has come back to its traditional principle of Afrocentricism, Nigeria’s foreign policy direction that makes Africa its centerpiece, an approach that was relegated to the background 16 years ago, since PDP Government launches itself with 1999 constitution. The Constitution instead of upholding the provisions of its predecessor, 1979 Constitution and continue on Africa, indeed West Africa as its centerpiece, claims to adopt Globalisation instead. This made Olusegun Obasanjo, the President that first operated the new constitution to travelled all-over the world in search of foreign investors that he found almost known to have made any serious investment that can be truly called  FOREIGN INVESTMENT. At certain point it was a rough relations with our neighnours that were part of our centre piece for decades. Profound security challenge that now connected these countries have rightly redirected Nigeria’s foreign policy to its immediate neighbours. This renewed Afrocentric approach is pragmatic approach by the President as part of his determination to stabilize Nigeria and balances the sub region in which it is the major Actor. However, it’s very crucial to understand that the scale and nature of  insecurity and subregional dynamics and  Afrocentric dynamics are much more than military adventure. Its time to properly integrate human dimension of foreign policy to Buhari’s renewed International relations. Culture is central here which involved long educational programmes, trade relations, intermarriages, personal relations, influx of informal workers to Nigeria and so many transaharan engagements that far superseded modern Nigeria. These are great instruments to further articulate and use in advancing Nigeria’s foreign policy generally , the insurgency and insecurity in particular. And painfully to say, this is where Nigerian Intelligence community fail to do their homework. The President, a war General can be excused to undertake full military approach, but as Obasanjo keeps saying and repeated recently, insecurity requires more than military approach. Hence our concept of non-military, human dimension to Nigeria’s foreign policy. This is to comprehensively review the Foreign policy in order to fill in the deficits, reorganize priorities and handle the complexities therein as they present themselves. Sure there are a lot of untapped reservoirs in human side of foreign policy that Nigeria is doing very little to take its advantages. There shouldn’t be reason Niger, Chad , Cameroun or even far Mali would be extension of Boko Haram operations. We expect the follow ups to the President’s visit to our neighbours  would be at this direction. Bilateral diplomacy that is already strengthening the ties between Nigeria and the various countries he has visited.

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President’s second visit to the just concluded G8 submit, is another important sojourn at Nigeria’s multilateral relations. Z invitation of PMB by G8 to  Berlin is  the  beginning of his major foreign policy challenge. Most of the membership here made his economic recovery policy so difficult 29 years ago that he had to be toppled for a friendly, at worst, more subservient regime to operate. At issue now is  the prevailing Globalism characterize by interdependence, mutual cooperation and benefits. As his visit opens a new chapter in Nigeria G8 relations,  by extension with individual member countries and the EU generally, including Japan, we expect G8 to throw away their old attire of greed to dominate for exploitation. The $5 Million assistance to fight Boko Haram is a welcome development, an immediate dividend of Presidents visit to the G8 submit. At issue is to get the necessary clarification of this money as ordinary assistance or is the type that is counted as soft loan! Going by our painful experiences on how such loans either from bilateral sources like US, France, UK ,or Canada or from multilateral ones  , especially  World Bank/IMF, have failed to move primary /basic education  for about 30 years now. Or to supply water to the citizens after injecting billions in various national water projects, or to propel agricultural production after receiving billions for Fadama projects and other national agricultural programmes. All Development statistics from leading global development agencies do place Nigeria among the poorest in the world. The new regime should be at a juncture to seek real and practical definitions of such packages as ‘assistance’, ‘Grants’or so. In actual and resources terms, Nigeria does nt need such. It needs technical cooperation and scientific and technological levels to provide capacity building, effective resource utalisation and partnerships at mutual development pursuits. Broadly minded International Development experts would argue that the only food that is free is in the trap.

Nigeria is a huge investment for oil and solid mineral explorations, Agriculture, manpower development and energy. Hence It’s an important partner that negotiations with it should be mutual .Buhari needs Development experts, patriotic economists to provide the foundation he needs for his traditional Diplomats to negotiate Nigeria further through.  It’s this complications that makes Diplomacy and politics generally more difficult than Medicine or Nuclear science. As he sets his foreign policy agenda with EU, there is need to outline his foreign policy priorities that is missing in the APC manifesto. G8 should see Nigeria as independent, sovereign country it needs for the benefits of all. If not, Globalism has brought new block in international relations, i.e BRICKS. In fact am surprise they are so slow to have first sent their invitation. Their New Development Bank is already treating World Bank/IMF. So also the promises Chinese driven Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank –AIIB-  has for the world is another reason G8 must be partner rather than master .  The Bank already registering members from EU as it defines its   mandate beyond Asia to truly global. A pragmatic alternative to the hegemonic World Bank – IBRD- is already an option before countries like Nigeria in the event of an unequal relationship in the making. It’s crucial to note that Neoliberal economic policy that is IBRD driven, a policy package endorsed by the G8 has failed over 100 countries across Asia, Latin America and Africa that subjected their national economies to its brutally rigorous conditionalities within the last 30 years. There has never been any perfect market for its forces to act and react on their own for prices to take their levels. Bail outs to various financial institutions in US during the first tenure of Obama and current EU/G8/IBRD bailouts to Greek economy for the last three years proved that the free market is not free itself. There has to be subsidies in one way or another as direct intervention of Government, regulation of the economy, hence the significance of political economy as indispensable description of the organic link between Government and economy. . In fact countries like Rwanda, Burundi, Chile, Somalia, Peru, Bolivia owe their economic woes and eventual political break down to Neoliberal economic policies they were advised to implement for which still some countries are still paying the prices.  The hegemons, softly called G8 have to treat Nigeria with golden spoon to have fair part of the reconstruction opportunities before the new regime. Else today is a world of great alternatives. Its time for our teachers and experts on Nigeria’s foreign policy to bring their tools. It’s a negotiation that must be handled with diligence, intelligence, skill and the higher mission of reconstructing Nigeria at heart. What would be death on arrival is for Buhari Government to subscribe to the clientelism of EU?G8 World Bank alliance in the name of Neoliberal economic policy, an advocacy former British Prime minister has already started . This is pursued at a time when every Cow in the EU gets $2.20 subsidy per day on average. That is more than the income of half of the world population. This in part explain the interrogation some foreign policy experts subject APC to for remaining silent on Foreign policy in its manifesto. A public policy sector that some regards more equal if not more in importance than Health, Agriculture or Education

. Added to his 3 points agenda of fighting insecurity, unemployment and corruption should be restoration of Nigerian Dignity and the black race internationally.  The prevailing Visa policy in EU Embassies in Nigeria, how the citizens are treated in their countries may form part of long term yet urgent attention. Sure Nigerians have their own sure of recklessness and abuses which call for quick action at national reorientation and values. A national discipline that requires head on approach.

There is need to urgently visit the Agricultural, solid minerals and other small and medium scale sectors of the Nigerian economy that is largely private sector driven. Two years ago, Arab Gulf states promised to make initial investment of $2billion in African Agriculture. Unfortunately till now, no any country make efforts to attract this investment. With the new Government in place, there is need to pursue this great partnership that has every potential for food production and efficiency, industrialization, boosting non-oil revenue of Nigeria and create large scale EMPLOYMENT. For now Arab Gulf States are interested to form strong business partnership with Africa. This is against the background of projected consumer spending of Africa in the next 5 years to the value of $1.4 trillion. According to Dubai Chambers of commerce, about $61 billion can be invested in Africa. With the new Government drive in Agriculture, solid mineral explorations and oil explorations in the north east, Nigeria has every chances to attract 50% or more of this amount, same goes on the proposed $2 billion Agricultural investment. It’s at this juncture Middle East should form important segment of our foreign policy attention. The unusual behavior of Nigeria towards Palestine late last year at the UN  raises questions on our commitment to the 2 states solutions and the various UN resolutions to peaceful settlement of Arab Israeli conflict is an issue that need to be handled in our usual traditional diplomatic concern as well. Middle East is a zone of crucial psycho cultural and strategic significance to Nigeria. The large number of pilgrims annually to Saudi Arabia and Israel underscores this in part, whose economic and social values cannot be overestimated. The huge Diaspora in Saudi Arabia, some very influential that should be made part of the national Diaspora policy in the offing. There should be well organized team to coordinate areas of foreign investment needs across the states for the federal Government to provide the needed administrative support that would attract these huge investments. There is a lot from the private sector to actualize the plans of Government at job creation, enhanced food production and security and overall industrialization policy of the Government. The team would also liaise and coordinate the foreign investors in line with national investment policy. It’s of critical note to draw attention here on the revised investment law of the country that was revised recently to conform to the neoliberal economic policy of trade liberalization. The law for now allows for {100%} free profit repatriation. So also liberation of ownership as enshrined in {foreign} Investment law of Nigeria, and the provisions in double taxation treaties that are all made to attract investment have all failed. This indicate that the problems are more  elsewhere than revising the laws which have long term implications as a growing economy and sovereign nation In an economy like Nigeria’s, total profit repatriation is to the detriment of its growth and sufficiency. There is need to revisit the laws p in line with the new drive in order to allow for expanded investment, job creation and sustained growth.

President Buhari’s foreign policy team needs to work on Nigerian investment law along with the relevant agencies .For now is not to the favour of Nigeria. Foreign investment in the heavy industries and other manufacturing sector should form priority zones of Nigeria’s International economic relations, G8, BRICKS and Gulf Cooperation Council multilateral engagement.

Another major area for Buhari’s foreign policy rethink is the regional and continental multilateral mechanisms ECOWAS and AU provides. With the resumed leadership role of Nigeria, it needs this agencies more than any other time to achieve our short and long term interests. Nigeria has the manifest destiny of leading Africa, this should be sustained more than any other time. Hence the need to  mobilise all available sources of influence to ensure our presence in these bodies remain edge cutting.With  credible leader in Nigeria, AU and ECOWAS should be made to serve as frontiers, nay fortification for west Africa and the continent as a whole against actual and potentials threats such as Ebola at the medical front, Boko Haram ,Alshabab, Ansarus sunnah at security and cultural anterior, neoliberal excesses at economic boundaries and promotion of good governance at political  Quest for permanent seat of UN is one of its. Nigeria, if for nothing, being the largest Black Country in the world needs to have this seat as Professor Ibrahim Gambari would argue. It is not going to be a smooth ride for Buhari in this bodies, considering how the previous Government rubbished its respect and clout and with yes men largely dominating the institutions. The credibility and goodwill of the new President, Nigeria has everything to carry the bodies along, playing its historical role of an elder and displaying an exemplary model by contributing it dues when due and giving extra where necessary.

All said, the complex nature of modern diplomacy, networked and dicey world as it is, modern diplomacy is not enough to carry Buhari’s Nigeria through. Multi track diplomacy with people of good will, patriotism and sense of purpose need to be on board. Business men, religious and community leaders, cultural groups, academicians, and influential personalities have to be identified, filtered and integrated into ‘ modern ambassadors’ necessary to utalise nonmilitary, human and multi layed factors available to make Nigeria’s foreign policy and International relations a success.

There are a lot to learn from US and major nations on this. The world ought to be interdependent with development cooperation at the centre stage of national policies, both domestic and foreign.

Elharun Muhammad



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