Towards Utmost Freedom and Less of Sloganeering on Nigeria’s Foreign Policy in 2024 - THE BUSINESS PACKAGE


Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Towards Utmost Freedom and Less of Sloganeering on Nigeria’s Foreign Policy in 2024

*Babafemi A. Badejo, Ph.D

On December 21, 2023, the Nigerian Foreign Minister, Ambassador Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, had the opportunity of being the Guest Speaker at the 2023 Annual Foreign Policy Lecture of the Association of Retired Career Ambassadors of Nigeria (ARCAN) in Abuja. The meeting was chaired by one of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy Elite members, Owei Lakemfa. Under the topic, “The Foreign Policy Agenda under Tinubu Administration”, the Minister used the opportunity to articulate what he called the 4Ds of Nigeria’s diplomatic relations with the rest of the world. It was not the first time the Minister was speaking on the 4Ds. He had spoken about it at the G-20 meeting in India and the 78th UN General Assembly. He called the 4Ds, the “Tinubu Doctrine”. 
The “Tinubu Doctrine” appears to want to mimic some American presidents of yore whose speeches were catapulted into the status of doctrines. In this respect was the Monroe doctrine of 1843 that defined the Americas as the backyard of the United States and saw other powers interference as hostile act towards the United States. The 1947 “Truman Doctrine”, was more recent. With Europe devastated at the end of the second world war, the Truman doctrine made it clear that the United States would intervene and support any democracies under threat. Part of this was the Marshall Plan that removed Western Europe from being vulnerable to any communist intervention. 
So, the question is whether the 4Ds has a doctrinaire status for it to be tagged the “Tinubu Doctrine”. The answer, for me, is to accept that the jury is still out. There is yet to be made available a strategic document on the 4Ds indicating specific goal(s) and an implementation plan. Nonetheless, we can meanwhile accept the 4Ds as indicative objectives that would guide the PBAT foreign policy stance.
The 4Ds, according to the Honourable Minister, include: Democracy, Development, Demography and Diaspora. The Minister scantily spoke about each of the terms at the ARCAN meeting. On democracy, the Minister gave the vague impression to Prof. Vremudiah Diejomaoh during questions and answers that democracy represents peace and stability, hence superior to development. Prof. Diejomaoh had, rightly argued that Nigeria needed to prioritise development over that vague notion of democracy. Was our failed foray into Niger Republic a doctrinaire position that Nigeria would intervene on any unconstitutional change of power, bearing in mind the fact that electing a civilian authority is not tantamount to having a democracy? More importantly, what are the instruments in our arsenal towards the achievement of the 4Ds. My intention in this piece is not to question nor fill in the gaps on a work in progress. 
However, it is important to note that the 4Ds are not as revolutionary as it is being posited in the media. They are slogans to catch attention on objectives of Nigeria’s foreign policy. In fact, Section 19 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria stipulated some foreign policy objectives that further beams light on the direction of Nigeria’s national interest. It states that the foreign policy objectives shall include: 
(a) Promotion and protection of the national interest;
(b) Promotion of African integration and support for African unity;
(c) Promotion of international co-operation for the consolidation of universal peace and mutual respect among all nations and elimination of discrimination in all its manifestations;
(d) Respect for international law and treaty obligations as well as the seeking of settlement of international disputes by negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and adjudication; and
(e) Promotion of a just world economic order.
These defined objectives are to guide Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives irrespective of slogans like “Economic Diplomacy”, Citizens Diplomacy or 4Ds. If we accept that PBAT has a right to stamp his own slogans on Nigerians with respect to foreign policy, we must not lose the main focus: the national interest and how to achieve it. Sloganeering or the mere exercise of vapid sloganeering which is very common with us can never be the answers, solutions or substitute to real progressive efforts in the achievement of core pillars of great value for Nigeria that are of existential import: the national interest. The national interest represents the variance among nation-states as to what is/are most critical for them to survive, thrive, or stay relevant and be accepted in the community of nations. In other words, national interest conjures issues such as the sustainability of sovereignty, protection of territorial integrity and the realization of what is most crucial, utmost freedom. 
For me, utmost freedom is that idyllic state that every country should strive towards: the achievement of the summation of all the rights and freedoms, inherent in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with notable visible impact in the lives of people. It is the overall interests of citizens, whether at home or in the diaspora as well as those yet unborn with respect to the protection of the environment that is the crux of national interest. It is the advancement of the well-being of people, including security and the fostering of widespread prosperity to greater numbers of people in a sovereign territory. So, it stands to reason that a nation that cannot feed its citizens is only pretending to be sovereign. It is like a father claiming the rights to power on the affairs of his family when he cannot provide for the sustenance of his wife and children.
This leads to the fact that slogans and the media blasts around them do not result in the realization of objectives that guides towards the achievement of national interest. A nation bedeviled with seeming irredeemable leadership deficit across boards, with very high levels of corruption and unaccountability can never develop, or achieve any meaningful progress in its interactions in the committee of nations. As I have often argued, leadership deficit enmeshed in corruption cannot perform in terms of delivering good governance to people in the domestic context, let alone performing, which implies competing adequately in a realist world with operations that has to do with an increasingly complex and unfriendly external environment, more so with feeble institutions and inefficient human and material resources.  
My intention in this article is to simply say that we have had so much slogans with little or insignificant impact. In 2024, there is the need to put aside sloganeering, with its distractions and technicalities and face squarely the strong concerns of how a country with poor leadership, skyrocketing corruption, the unreasonable flight of its human resources in search for better life options and low respect for the rule of law can be respected and deemed relevant in the community of nations. Addressing these issues directly in 2024 will do us more good. To realise national interest, good governance clearly shown in strives for building leadership, reduction in the rate of corruption and high level of respect for the rule of law are fundamentally crucial. The pursuit of utmost freedom within the context of national interest cannot be complete without responsible governance that deftly avoids counter measures from stronger powers and equally maximises opportunities at the external environment. In this regard, effective governance, good leadership are crucial to improving the well-being of citizens. 

*Babafemi A. Badejo, author of a best-seller on politics in Kenya, was a former Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, and currently a Legal Practitioner and Professor of Political Science/International Relations, Chrisland University, Abeokuta. Nigeria.

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