Ojo Maduekwe And Nigerian Foreign Policy: A Dissenting Opinion

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

In general, nation-states pursue two fundamental goals: national security and autonomy. Whenever and wherever possible, they add a third: cooperation with other states at the global level, especially when such endeavors are in concurrence with their core and or instrumental interest. In the case of Nigeria, one could argue what those interests ought to be especially in an increasingly interrelated and integrated world and more so since Nigeria has been a laggard; but such is not within the cope of this rejoinder. This is about a clash of perspective, a dissenting opinion vis-à-vis Dr. Sam Amadi’s treatise: Ojo Maduekwe And Nigerian Foreign Policy (Daily Independent, Monday May 5, 2008).

For almost two decades, Nigeria has been adrift within the global system. Unclear and irresolute about its role and place within such anarchical system, she has not been able to find her voice, define and defend her goals, or assert itself within the comity of nations, or even look after the common and general interests of her people at home and abroad. Nigeria is today living off its past glory, impersonating her once fine self. Diplomatically speaking, there has not been much to write about in terms of Nigeria’s diplomacy. The state is adrift, drowning in its own incompetence. A country that cannot provide basic human needs to her citizens cannot attract global respect; an incompetent government cannot be a beacon of humanity abroad.

As stated in an earlier composition, almost one year into the administration of President Yar’Adua, the External Affairs Minister seems to be missing-in-action. If this president is anything like his predecessor, then, Maduekwe will have no prayer, no voice and no significant role in shaping the country’s foreign affairs. As far as domestic matters goes, no one is quite sure where the President is headed; same is true of international affairs. As of yet, nothing impressive has been articulated, and nothing significant has been ventured. What was true yesterday is also true of today: Yar’Adua has no discernable goals or governing ideologies. Maduekwe is in the same boat in spite of Sam Amadi’s laborious attempt to convince his readers otherwise. He failed!

Abbreviating the opinion of the External Affairs Minster, Sam Amadi quoted him as saying, “no matter how much we may be tempted to malign Nigerian domestic policies, there is little dispute that its foreign policy has been nothing less than a huge success.” Amadi went on to say that “What the minister modestly failed to add is that his leadership of Nigerian foreign policy in the past months has tremendously added to this success story.” Wrong, wrong, and wrong! One can understand the reason behind Maduekwe’s self-adulation. A man ought to be able sing his own praise even if no one is doing it for him. In this case, no one is singing and dancing because there is nothing to sing and dance to. One could go from A to Z and not find a single achievement creditable to the minister.

Nigeria’s foreign affair is in the same boat it was before he (Madukwe) came into office: torpid, unresponsive, and lacking in direction. What, exactly, is the purpose of Nigeria’s foreign policy and how does she intend to achieve it? What are the core values, the tactical and strategic visions he and his ministry intend to pursue, or have been pursuing in the last nine months. In what ways are the minister’s ideas and ideals reflected in the nation’s foreign policy? So far, what have been apparent are the minster’s big-talks, grand schemes and hyperbolism. He plays to the gallery. He shifts his cards and shifts his hands. He sings and dances just to impress one man and one man only: President Yar’Adua. He’s been hugely successful at that; but has been a huge disaster as far as the nation’s foreign affairs goes.

Nothing has changed with the Nigerian Embassies. For decades now, they have been nothing more than enclaves of ethnicity, favoritism and indolence. Most are citadels of corruption and psychosomatic abuse. Any wonder then that the majority of Nigerians dread going to their country’s embassies? In several of these places, you’ll have no prayer if you needed consular or legal help. At the level of things one could physically measure, Maduekwe’s score card reads F; same for his intellectual advancement of Nigeria’s foreign policy. With these and several other failings and foibles, Sam Amadi should tell us how Minister Maduekwe’s reign has been a huge success. And Ojo Maduekwe himself should tell the nation what he is doing to turn things around. Oh well, may be the minister needs additional nine months to justify his continued appointment.

In the words of Sam Amadi, “an assessment of Nigerian foreign policy success under Chief Ojo Maduekwe cannot escape a scrutiny of his concept of ‘Citizen Diplomacy’… citizen diplomacy was misconceived to be a revision of Nigerian traditional foreign policy focus… Some hasty commentators who did not wait for full articulation of the ingredients of the ‘new’ foreign policy shot it down as not a foreign policy option.”

Well then, what in heaven’s name is citizen diplomacy? When the minister himself tried articulating it, it was nothing but mumbo-jumbo. It was not anchored in a globalizing and post-911 world, and neither was it anchored in the reality of modern Nigeria.

Dr. Sam Amadi has some political capital and name recognition; but I suspect some of his gains will begin to exfoliate as a result of his claim that “The foreign minister is justified to claim that this is the last bus-stop in foreign policy articulation. We cannot get better than this, at least in terms of policy articulation.” Nonsense, arrant nonsense! Everything good can be improved upon. There is nothing within the academy, the policy market or implementation arena that is ever static. You either regress or make progress. As far as Nigeria’s foreign affairs went, there were constant changes, challenges and progress as evidenced from the era of Jaja Nwachukwu through Arikpo Okoi, Joseph Garba and Bolaji Akinyemi.

If Sam Amadi thinks and believes that “We cannot get better than this,” then, Nigeria’s foreign policy (intellectualization, design, implementation and articulation) is in one helluva of a mess. Mediocrity must never be our last stop. And indeed, Sam Amadi’s reputation suffered some more when he recklessly averred that “Chief Ojo Maduekwe’s contributions to foreign policy success in Nigeria are mainly in three categories. Firstly, he has creatively connected diplomacy to governance by emphasizing the ideals of citizenship and political accountability…Secondly, he has increased the productivity of the foreign affairs ministry by refocusing it to efficiency and value-addition. Thirdly, his memorable participation in international forums has increased Nigeria‘s reputation and played the country into a holding role for democracy and rule of law in Africa.” The aforesaid will most likely induce smirk and mockery from serious and progressive scholars and practitioners of foreign affairs. Minister Ojo Maduekwe is not now “capable of taking our foreign policy to the next level.”

In essence, Ojo Maduekwe And Nigerian Foreign Policy is nothing but a polishing and repacking assignment. It is what it is: the first in a series of efforts to help retain Maduekwe in a cabinet shakeup. Dr. Sam Amadi — Special Assistant to Nigerian Foreign Minister; Director, Center for Public Policy & Research and Senior Policy Advisor 6th Sense Consulting — should in the future save us the trouble of another PR campaign. It is embarrassing, very embarrassing!

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vinah April 1, 2009 - 11:24 pm

this article is an open minded scrutiny of the overall situation more efforts needs to be geared towards nigerias diplomacy and foreign policy

Ray November 30, 2008 - 10:19 pm

This artical is important, not just for Nigerial, but abroad as well. Nigeria needs big changes in it’s policies and the needs of it’s people. Stop people from scamming others and renew it’s country of old.

ephraimadinlofu@hotmail.co.uk May 7, 2008 - 5:24 pm

Good piece! we don’t have a minister of external affairs. It is unfortunate that this man was good in promoting OBJ’s image when OBJ was in power but finds it difficult to now talk on Nigeria’s external issues. Is he now dumb?



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