President Muhammadu Buhari has adopted ‘Nigeria First Foreign Policy’ as the country’s new foreign policy direction.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, made the disclosure while briefing the diplomatic corps in Abuja.
Onyeama also revealed that the President has unveiled nine key priority areas of his second term administration.
He listed the key priority areas to include building of a virile economy, enlarging agricultural output, energy sufficiency, expansion of transport and infrastructure, amongst others as the new focus of the administration.
The Minister recalled that during the first term of the Buhari administration, security, the fight against corruption and job creation were the government’s key priority areas.
He, however, said that in his second term, the President is expanding the focus, a goal that will guide the policy direction over the next four years.
“This second mandate, we have nine priority areas the government has identified. And these are to guide our policy direction over the next four years.
“One is building a thriving and sustainable economy; enlarging agricultural output for food security and export; attain energy sufficiency and power and petroleum products; expand transport and other infrastructure development; expand business growth, entrepreneurship and industrialisation; expand access to quality education, affordable healthcare and productivity of Nigerians; enhance social inclusion, reduce poverty, build systems to fight corruption; improve governance and create social cohesion and improve security for all,” Onyeama disclosed.
On foreign policy, Onyeama stated that the government is of the opinion that a realistic foreign policy should reflect domestic realities.
“So, you can also call it a ‘Nigeria First Policy’. But that will not be very original because I think somebody else might want to claim a copyright on using ‘First’ for a country having interest or promotion of foreign policy. But basically, it is going to be a ‘Nigeria First Foreign Policy’,” Onyeama stated.
Onyeama explained that with this approach, Nigeria’s first priority would be its contiguous neighbours such as Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, countries which all share common borders with Nigeria.
Onyeama pointed to the countries as “allies in the battle to defeat terrorism,” noting that the fight was existential in nature.
At the sub-regional level, with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Onyeama said Nigeria is fully committed to sub-regional integration.
He added that the security, social, economic, political and judicial building blocs were well established and the integration programme is progressing steadily.
At the continental level, Onyeama stated that Nigeria also fully subscribed to the African Union’s vision of an integrated Africa.
Onyeama, who also spoke on the conduct of the diplomatic corps in the country, told the ambassadors and heads of missions accredited to the country to always engage the country through the normal diplomatic channels.
He noted that some diplomats are reported to have gone into areas that are considered sensitive for political or security purposes.
“We would caution you against such forays and we advise prior consultation with the Ministry before you send a colleague or you go to some of these areas. And it is also for your own safety and the safety of your colleagues,” Onyeama cautioned.
While pointing out instances of making direct contact with the Presidency and other agencies and at the state level, Onyeama said the Foreign Affairs Ministry would prefer that it became the first contact in any of their dealings.
This, Onyeama added, was to ensure respect at all times of all the diplomatic protocols and also to have cohesive engagements with the government through the Ministry.