By Dr. Kayode Fayemi
1. I feel highly honored to be asked to deliver this Distinguished Lecture on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) by the Director General of the Institute. Professor Osaghae needs no eulogies from me, given his reputation as one of Africa’s foremost political scientists, and as an astute University administrator. I dare say that his choice as the new DG was an inspired one and Nigeria could not have found a more worthy person to revamp one of the key symbols of Nigeria’s golden years in international affairs.
2. Established soon after our country’s independence to serve as an autonomous centre of excellence that would bring Nigeria to the world and the world to Nigerians, NIIA has strived over the last six decades, with admirable success, to fulfill its mandate through high quality and widely-disseminated research. It has also carved a niche for itself in informing and educating the Nigerian public through its conferences, lecture series, policy dialogues, ambassadorial fora, media commentaries, and refereed publications about developments and trends in the world and what they mean for Nigeria and Africa.
3. For students of International Relations in the 70s to the 90s, the NIIA was widely revered for its remarkable years in forging Nigeria’s progressive, Afrocentric foreign policy. In preparing this lecture, I was overwhelmed by nostalgia reflecting upon the towering credentials of the NIIA as the initiator of several robust initiatives such as the Concert of Medium Powers, the South Atlantic Treaty Organization and Nigeria’s anti apartheid policy in Southern Africa amongst several other laudable initiatives that have emerged from this building. Those halcyon days when Nigeria projected potential greatness and was a respected voice for Africa now seem somewhat distant in comparison to the NIIA that my friend has now taken over its leadership.
4. Furthermore, the NIIA has not only in the years since its founding emerged as a pivotal source of evidence-based advice on the foreign policy choices and orientation of Nigeria, it has also in the very recent past produced three of our country’s foreign ministers and several ambassadors, including among them two Permanent Representatives to the United Nations. One can further appreciate the historic significance and pedigree of the NIIA when we look at the roll call of its previous Directors-General, who were intellectual and policy giants and diplomats, who had helped shape and operationalize Nigeria’s past and current foreign policy practice.
5. Few here will forget the highly activist era of Professor Bolaji Akinyemi as Director-General of the Institute during the Murtala-Obasanjo military years and as Minister of Foreign Affairs during the first part of the Babangida years.
6. Indeed, whilst he was at the helm of affairs, it is widely acknowledged that Professor Akinyemi brought rigour and vigour to the work of the Institute, doing so, if I might add, with that signature Akinyemi swagger and bow tie and a panache that so accurately embodied Nigeria’s rapidly growing profile as an emerging power of note in the global South. Esteemed Professor Akinyemi Sir, your presence here as Chair of this 60th anniversary Lecture doubles the honour I feel to be speaking here this evening not just as your old student but also as your fellow traveler in the struggle for a new and better Nigeria. Asserting that the Institute has already earned a respectable place in the annals of our country’s history therefore is stating the obvious.
7. Many may not know or remember also that the NIIA gave Nigeria its second ever female Minister of Foreign Affairs when Professor Joy Ogwu was appointed towards the end of the second term of office of President Olusegun Obasanjo as elected civilian president. The Institute has also served at one point or the other as home to some of Nigeria’s best scholarly and policy-framing minds whose output has shaped at least three generations of the country’s international relations students and practitioners.
8. With the independence Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa of blessed memory as its first patron, all subsequent Nigeria leaders, military and civilian, have honoured the Institute by maintaining what is by now the tradition whereby the sitting head of state serves as its patron. This symbolism has accorded the Institute a special place in the national policy architecture. Iconic Nigerian business leaders such as the late Chief Michael Ibru, Drs Christopher Kolade, and Michael Omolayole, to cite a few of them, have also served in various volunteer support capacities to help advance the goals of the Institute.
9. Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I have been asked to speak on ‘Fixing Nigeria for A Better World’. A good starting point to this rather interesting topic is to interrogate its meaning. For me, it throws up a few fundamental questions such as the following: Is Nigeria’s destiny linked to that of the world and will fixing Nigeria therefore lead to a better world? Why will a better Nigeria lead to a better world? Is Nigeria faulty such that it needs fixing? What core characteristics did Nigeria possess that helped the world become a better place then? What tools are required to fix Nigeria? Can Nigeria be fixed at all? What has hindered Nigeria from fully attaining her ‘manifest destiny’?
10. Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it has long been established as a dictum that foreign policy is both a reflection and continuation of domestic policy. This is as true yesterday as it is today. It is also as true for our country as it is for any other on the planet. Foreign policy provides the channel and serves as the instrument by which countries big and small seek to project their strategic concerns, goals, and interests unto the world stage, doing so with a view not only to securing their place and role in the comity of nations but also in order to maximise benefits for themselves around those things that matter for their survival and prestige.
11. Maximising interests or projecting power on the world stage, and doing so successfully in an international system that is underpinned by several asymmetries and characterized by competition and rivalries among states is a function of many things. Of particular interest to me in this lecture is the role and place of national cohesion, coherence, and confidence in shaping the capacity of states to act with credibility on a world stage. History teaches us that when countries are at peace with themselves at home and their citizens at one with the leadership, they are able more effectively to engage meaningfully with their neighbours and the rest of the world.
12. Conversely, when countries are in a state of internal turmoil and experiencing statehood challenges, the tendency has been for them to be less able to engage robustly with the rest of the world. Domestic peace and prosperity are necessary initial conditions for a stable, productive and meaningful interaction with the global community. Domestic turmoil, instability, and disarray have distracting effects that add up to reduce the reliability and effectiveness of the countries concerned in the global politics that nations play among themselves.
13. We owe a debt of gratitude to a highly cerebral and productive generation of pioneering Nigerian scholars of International Relations, many of them my teachers, for the extensive and illuminating studies that they produced in their time to shed light on the underlying domestic factors and forces that have shaped the making of our country’s foreign policy over the period since independence in 1960. From the assorted works of the likes of Olajide Aluko, Bolaji Akinyemi, Ibrahim Gambari, Alaba Ogunsanwo, Gabriel Olusanya, Sola Ojo, Ralph Onwuka, Jide Osuntokun, Rafiu Akindele, Ade Adefuye, George Obiozor, Joy Ogwu, Margaret Vogt, Isawa Elaigwu, Adebayo Olukoshi, Bola Akinterinwa, and Osita Eze, to cite just a few names, we know that when viewed over the long term, Nigeria’s foreign policy orientations, actions, and fortunes have always been at their most coherent, robust, and rewarding in periods when we have enjoyed a run of domestic political stability and a collective unity of purpose.
14. Ordinarily, based on all the conventional and non-conventional attributes and indicators of power, Nigeria enjoys natural endowments that position it to be a major player in the international system. Its ranking as the most populous country in Africa and one of the most populous in the world automatically places it high among actors with important power potentialities. With the country projected to become the third most populous country in the world after India and China in the next few decades, that power potentiality is bound to be enhanced further, cementing Nigeria’s place as the natural giant of Africa.
15. Complementing the current and projected sizes of our national population are a number of important demographic facts that deserve to be teased out here for their significance. As the single largest concentration of black people in the world, and as home to one out of every four black person on earth, Nigeria combines its status of being the giant of Africa with a position as a beacon of hope for the transformation of global Africa and the Black world in advancement of the unfinished struggles of successive generations of pan-African thinkers and activists for our collective dignity and progress.
16. The sheer youthfulness of Nigeria’s population, comprising some 70 per cent of our demographics, also stands the country out alongside other African states as a potential powerhouse of knowledge, skills, and creation with an enormous pace-setting and game-changing capacity if properly harnessed and made into a dividend. We have seen early glimpses of what this youthful population is capable of delivering in terms of innovative activities: digital hubs in and around Yaba and other parts of the country; artistic ingenuity reflected in the roaring successes of various locally-produced musical genres and a rich Nollywood output that are ruling the waves globally; and a new generation of young literary and scientific titans who are proving themselves to be worthy successors to the Wole Soyinkas, Chinua Achebes, Ola Rotimis, Cyprian Ekwensis, Chike Obis, Iya Abubakars, Ayodele Awojobis, and many others.
17. Nigeria also enjoys the singular fortune – I refuse to call it a curse – of being generously endowed with various agricultural and natural resources, including oil, gas, and many different solid minerals. If, like most Nigerians, I had only a very general idea of the extent and variety of our natural resource endowments, my period in office as Minister of Mines and Steel Development was an eye opener that deepened my knowledge of just how blessed we are as a country. There is practically no natural resource that matters which does not exist in Nigeria and there is practically no part of the country which does not have the occurrence of various resources. Our vast and diversified mineral wealth confers multiple advantages which, on their own, place the country in a league of actors to watch. Properly harnessed and fully developed, the country could easily transit into a major force on the world stage.
18. The equally vast and varied agricultural endowments of the country place it in a position to achieve and sustain food security – and thus reduce vulnerability to the weaponisation of food dependence to constrain its ability to act autonomously and freely on the world stage. The different agricultural commodities produced in the country – and for which we were once leading suppliers of some of them to the world market – also represent a ready source of raw materials to feed an agro-industrial revolution and a source for the diversification of exports, foreign exchange earnings, and trading partners.
19. The various natural endowments of Nigeria have combined to place the country in the ranks of the biggest economies in Africa as measured by its gross domestic product. The size of its domestic market and the purchasing power of its middle class, despite several years of austerity, remain among the highest on the continent. The overall attractiveness of the country to investors has been sustained over the years, making it one of the more favoured investment destinations.
20. The various natural endowments with which Nigeria is blessed may have conferred some advantage to the country in terms of its ability to organise itself to be a credible actor in the international system. However, to translate these advantages into real and effective power, the requisite domestic policy and political environment designed to harness them for progress at home and presence on the world stage were and remain an imperative. It is my submission to this august assembly today that the shifting fortunes which we have seen in our foreign policy engagements over the years has been, in large, measure a function of the extent to which, through strategy and policy, we have been able to manage and master our domestic affairs.
21. In managing our domestic situation at different points in our history since 1960, I note that an important factor that has always been at play is leadership capacity and savvy to manage cycles of relative stability and instability in politics and the economy. Some of the best moments in our post-independence foreign policy engagements have tallied with periods when the country has deliberately and purposefully sought to drive a national rebirth and progress with a leadership that is fired up and ready to make a difference in the life of the nation. And this has happened regardless of our economic circumstances.
22. I recall with pride and some nostalgia, the dexterity and aplomb with which, within the overarching ambit of the doctrine of Africa as the centerpiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy, the country took a frontline role, backed by our collective will as citizens, to drive the decision of the Organisation of African Unity to recognize the Popular Movement for Liberation of Angola (MPLA) as the legitimate party of power in independent Angola. Murtala Mohammed’s game-changing speech at the 1975 Extraordinary Summit of the OAU, ‘Africa has come of Age’ where he affirmed that the continent would no longer entertain interference from extra-continental busy bodies was a bold and courageous push for African independence that reverberated across Nigeria, Africa, and the entire black world. It was a high moment in Nigerian foreign policy engagement that also tallied with the drive by the Murtala-Obasanjo military administration to promote a programme of domestic national reset. Purposefulness in domestic policy was, inevitably, refracted into foreign policy to produce a robust foreign policy posture.
23. It was also during that period Nigeria embedded the principle of mutual reciprocity firmly in its foreign policy engagements, ending a period of timidity and tentativeness that characterised early post-independence international relations. Buoyed up by a high inflow of revenues from the export of oil which in part also translated into a higher per capita income, the country took a frontline role in the struggle for the liberation of Southern Africa from settler colonialism and apartheid racism while striving to strengthen a reawakening and bonds of solidarity in the African world. The hosting of the Second World Black Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) in 1977 was a salutary example of soft power at play along with other similar initiatives such as the Technical Aid Corps Scheme.
24. Foreign policy activism anchored on a sense of national purpose and a leadership preparedness to leverage the various natural endowments of the country saw Nigeria play crucial roles in the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity – OAU and the formation of what has become the foremost regional bloc – ECOWAS even before then. It was also foreign policy activism that saw Nigeria championing a role for itself and other medium powers in the quest for a more stable and equitable global order. Professor Bolaji Akinyemi’s pursuit of a Concert of Medium Powers and the South Atlantic Treaty Organisation was reflective of the national ambition to ensure that in a reformed international multilateral system, Africa would have its rightful place at the table. Although the idea of the Concert did not gain full institutionalisation in the end, there was no mistaking the medium power responsibilities of Nigeria in Africa when it had to lead ECOWAS to intervene militarily in Liberia and Sierra Leone to help end the civil wars that engulfed both countries at a time Nigeria’s economic situation was not the most buoyant.
25. Over recent years, in the face of acute and stubborn domestic challenges, Nigeria has adopted a less visible and activist presence on the African and global stages. To be clear, this shift from a foreign policy activism to a foreign policy reticence is not, in my view, a result of a shift in core principles or the outcome of a change in doctrine. The natural leadership position that various factors confer on the country remain relevant just as its prioritisation of Africa as a centerpiece of foreign policy continues to apply. What has produced the observed foreign policy reticence is the plethora of domestic problems which occupy and dominate the attention of elected leaders at all levels, but especially at the federal level, almost on a full time basis.
26. The nature and dimensions of the contemporary domestic problems that have preoccupied and continue to dominate the attention of Nigeria’s leadership are very well-known to this audience to bear spelling out in any great detail. Suffice it to note that in their political, economic, social, and security forms and manifestations, they have combined to pose serious challenges to national unity, social cohesion, citizen safety and welfare, and national security. As the challenges have piled up and worsened from year to year, so too have their effects and consequences been felt at all levels of life in the country, beginning with the household and right up to the federal centre.
27. The foreign policy reticence arising from the almost single-minded focus of the federal government on taming and overcoming the multiple and multi-dimensional nation-state challenges facing the country has helped to highlight just how important a Nigeria that works and which does so effectively is not just for Nigerians but also for the rest of Africa and world at large. At a time of significant shifts in the global balance of power, and in the face of various global challenges of which climate change, extremist insurgencies, and the Covid-19 pandemic are just the latest, the historic leadership which Nigeria used to provide for the mobilisation, harnessing, and projection of a coherent and authoritative African voice has never been more important.
28. A fulsome Nigerian engagement on the continental and global scenes will also go a long way to offer a renewed sense of purpose and direction to such key sub-regional and continental bodies as ECOWAS and the AU where other countries customarily depend on Nigeria to lead the way and set the pace. There is no shortage of challenges that require their policy and political action: The ongoing crisis in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa underwritten by various extremist groups and criminal networks; the demands for reconstruction and transitional justice in several post-conflict/ post-authoritarian countries; highly risky youth migrations across the Sahel and the Mediterranean; the intensifying militarisation of the continental seaboard by extra-continental powers as part of what would seem like a new scramble for Africa; and the organisation of collective action in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
29. The imperative of renewing and restoring the frontline leadership role of Nigeria in Africa with a view to ensuring that Africa seats at the high table in consultations and decision-making about world affairs in a period of change and strategic realignment cannot be over emphasised, hence it is important that ongoing efforts at revamping the country are accelerated and also fully supported. In my considered opinion, the work of national rebirth that is called for must proceed on the two important assumptions: The first is that all things considered, the unity and territorial integrity of Nigeria will need to be upheld as an overarching framework for the reforms that need to be carried out or accelerated. Nigerians cannot afford to have their country broken to pieces just as Africa and the world cannot afford to have a fragmented Nigeria. No break-up ever occurs without being messy and the mess that would flow from a Nigeria that is broken into smaller bits is simply too horrendous to contemplate.
30. The second assumption which, in my view, must undergird our process of national revamp centres on the imperative of anchoring the process on justice, equity and fair play in a manner that is inclusive and all-encompassing: inter-ethnic, inter-regional, inter-social class, inter-gender, and inter-generational, inter-faith, not to forget those living with disability. Partial, incoherent, piecemeal, and scattered efforts at reform built on a foundation of injustice and inequity may buy time but they will not provide the durable solutions we need as to be able to say to ourselves and to the world in full confidence that we are back as one united, indivisible, and strong country.
31. And we all know that right now, Nigeria is a country that has divided opinion among respected global analysts and watchers of Nigeria. A good number of scholars have underscored Nigeria’s unnatural evolution and faulty foundations as a state as the cause of its travails, and have therefore expressed doubts to its capacity to fully manifest or achieve its maximum potential. Others have opined that it has already attained some measure of greatness and can further consolidate on these achievements if its manifold problems are resolved.
32. A recent debate on the categorization of the Nigerian state, in terms of whether it had failed, was teetering on the edge of total failure or collapse, had caught my attention. I refer mainly to the arguments for and against state failure by John Campbell and Robert Rotberg on the one hand, and Fola Aina and Nic Cheeseman on the other hand in the authoritative Foreign Affairs journal published by the US Council on Foreign Relations. In their article titled ‘Don’t Call Nigeria a Failed State’, Fola Aina and Nic Cheeseman (2021) had commenced the argument by asserting that the Nigerian government could not at present guarantee the security and safety of all its citizens. They thereafter argued that despite this, Nigeria’s ability to initiate power sharing among its constituent units, tolerance in the face of diversity, its strengthened democracy evidenced by power shift from one political party to another, as well as its decentralised security responses to the security challenges, were all strong points for a resilient state far from collapse.
33. The counter argument by Rotberg and Campbell also in the same journal (2021), the latter being a former US Ambassador to Nigeria, was that Nigeria was not only a problem to itself, but also unto others, and could no longer play the regional hegemon role that it used to play in West Africa. In their typology of nations, which they referred to as strong, weak, failed and the collapsed, they asserted that “internal insurrections and the inability of the Nigerian state to provide peace and stability to its people has toppled a hitherto very weak state into failure”. In its October 2021 edition, the respected international journal, The Economist followed suit in an article titled ‘Insurgency, Seccessionism, and Banditry Threaten Nigeria’ but only just stopped short of boldly describing Nigeria as a failed state, even as it highlighted the security and economic woes that we are experiencing.
34. Scholars have dedicated a lot of time and effort to gain a better understanding of the peculiar nature of the Nigerian state. These attempts to theorize and explain the evolution and workings of this unique country have thrown up several theoretical postulations among leading scholars, including my brother and friend, Eghosa Osaghae, whose works highlight the structural impediments to Nigeria’s growth since independence, and proffer possible solutions to addressing them. From PP Ekeh’s treatise on the ‘The Two Publics’, Richard Joseph’s ‘Prebendalism’, and ‘neo patrimonialism’ as espoused by Richard Sklar and others, the structural fault lines of the Nigerian state have been dissected adequately. With the blessing of its sheer size and diversity also comes challenges of ensuring better diversity management and a sense of belonging felt by every part of the country. Unfortunately, Nigeria has not been able to attain this despite the several efforts made over the decades.
35. Whether one agrees with these external judgments or not and whether we arrive at a consensus on the state of the nation or not, what is obvious is that if Nigeria is not relevant in the global context, the world will not be concerned about the health of the nation. Our response as a nation in my humble opinion should not be an engagement in superfluous arguments but to upgrade our country within the framework of the two assumptions I have outlined above. Some of the most immediate tasks that we need urgently to address collectively include the restructuring of the national politico-administrative system to allow for a greater degree of decentralised and devolved powers that can make for a more updated federal arrangement.
36. Connected to this is the equally urgent task of updating the rules, policies, and institutions for the effective and equitable management of our diversity. Furthermore, our country is in need of a fully revamped social compact between state and society that can serve as a bedrock for the exercise and enjoyment of citizenship on a pan-Nigeria basis. In part, this will require the adoption of a core set of universal social policies and justiciable rights and entitlements that can be enjoyed by all Nigerians wherever they find themselves and regardless of their state of origin.
37. Every so often, when we discuss the contemporary challenges facing our country, the temptation is very strong to carry on as though we have all uniformly and universally become a group of ethnic warriors or religious zealots facing off in a zero-sum battle. Yes, there is no denying the fact that we are traversing a very difficult moment in our national history and the times have tested our faith in the unity and viability of the country. However, it has also been my singular honour and privilege as Chair of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to travel the four corners of our country and to witness among ordinary Nigerians from various walks of life an abiding faith in the country, a selfless empathy with neighbours, and bonds of solidarity that speak to our shared humanity.
38. With a view to building on these bonds of solidarity whilst blunting the factors of disaffection, division, and fragmentation, and in order to ensure that some of the key underlying drivers of our national problems are tackled, we must accord equal priority attention to the expansion of the productive base of our economy, create employment on a massive scale, especially for the youth, tackle poverty, inequality, and corruption, diversify the sources of revenue, including foreign exchange earnings, etc. We would need also to rebuild the capacity and institutions of the state with a view to enhancing its legitimacy and authority and deterrent powers over the entire land mass.
39. Adding to the structural problems is the devastating socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 scourge, which has exposed the fragility of our economy, being one of those on the continent that are dependent upon one main source of foreign exchange earnings. Currently in our country, the structural fault-lines are more exposed and the socio-political situation has grown even worse with the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, due to a weakened economy that has experienced at least two recessions in recent years, leading to increased poverty. Experts already warn that 45% of the population will experience poverty in 2022. There is the struggle with armed insurgency and several sources of agitations across the country.
40. Our security forces are overstretched as the massive scale of violence and insecurity has ensured their deployment to almost all of Nigeria’s entire 36 states, performing one form of policing action or the other. We must be honest in admitting that an unsafe Nigeria has led to an unsafe West African neighbourhood, and our preoccupation with our internal problems have led to our inability to help deal with problems in other climes where we would ordinarily have been actively at the forefront in seeking solutions to ending human suffering. We must also accept the fundamental premise that to project greatness, we must imbibe a culture of greatness at home. We simply cannot give what we do not have!
41. As I begin to round up my presentation, I would like to emphasis that just as the primary responsibility for revamping and fixing Nigeria belongs in the first and last instances to Nigerians, the purposes of the revamp and its target beneficiaries must also be centred on Nigeria and Nigerians. Doing so ensures that the task of renewal that is required does appeal to abstract ideals but rather emanates from concrete domestic needs and imperatives. Done successfully, a Nigeria that works well and efficiently for its citizens is one which, all things considered, will also be beneficial for Africa and the world. The international community, therefore, has an enlightened self-interest in working with Nigerians to ensure that the country transcends its present challenges and is able to act with renewed vigour as a reliable and effective champion of the African interest in a changing international multilateral system.
Physician, Heal Thyself: Restoring Nigeria’s Rightful Position in Africa.
42. Faced with the myriad problems that beset the continent today, Africa yearns for highly resourceful, focused, selfless and visionary leadership that can galvanize and mobilize the required assistance and guidance required in lifting its population out of their anguish. Our continent is replete with the resurgence of military coup d’états (Sudan, Chad, Mali and Guinea) and the unconstitutional retention of power by leaders, armed insurgencies and violent extremism that is ravaging the Sahel region and the Lake Chad Basin. There are intra-state wars in places such as Ethiopia, inter-state disputes such as the one between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the Nile Crisis, the unresolved problem over Western Sahara between Morocco and Algeria. Secessionist agitations have not left the shores of Cameroon, Senegal and Nigeria, while the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are manifesting through increased disillusionment with the state by several citizens.
43. I believe that the continent is yearning for the same type of leadership and visionary thinking that Nigeria and a few others had provided in previous moments of uncertainty and gloom. Nigeria should not be so bogged down by its own internal challenges to the extent that it is therefore unable to rescue its less-privileged neighbours who always look up to her for help. Let me be categorical in saying that despite our domestic challenges, we must not shirk our responsibilities towards our neighbours for it is when there is peace around us that we can truly enjoy peace and prosperity within our territory. Yet, despite Nigeria’s seeming silence on the international front, it is also perhaps the best of times for some of our highly resourceful international civil servants. Nigerians currently head the World Trade Organization (WTO), the African Development Bank (AfDB), as well as the Political Affairs, Peace and Security Department of the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Export Import Bank.
44. Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen, how can Nigeria lead from the front without dealing with some of its own internal problems? It is hardly possible. We must therefore look inward and work assiduously towards tackling our internal problems even as we try to assume the leadership position that destiny has bestowed upon us in Africa. Permit me to end this by highlighting a number of steps that are required to fix Nigeria and in turn make the world a better place.
Recommendations & Concluding Remarks:
45. Some of these steps are not necessarily new ideas. However if we refuse to utilize our best resources, skills, as well as the required political will in dealing with these challenges, we will be the worse for it. The world considers a dysfunctional Nigeria as bizarre, and as Nigerians; we must refuse to accept that things cannot be much better than they are currently. Nigeria must as a matter of urgency undertake the following steps for a better world:
a. Embrace political restructuring through a national dialogue process before it is too late. The discontent and agitations that are being felt in parts of the country are symptomatic of structural challenges that can be discussed and amicably agreed upon when all constituent units of the Federation come together to discuss and agree on what the Nigeria of their dreams means. Addressing the national question will only ensure that we are on a path to greatness and will generate the sense of unity of purpose required for us to attain our best potential;
b. Undertake concerted efforts towards revamping structures and instruments of our foreign policy. Here, I refer to modernizing and adequately funding the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, our Missions abroad, as well as institutions such as the NIIA, NIPSS and IPCR. Ensuring that our most gifted hands are recruited into our Foreign Service and related institutions will only result in a better-informed foreign policy machinery;
c. Documenting our experiences and projecting into the future: Nigeria has given so much to the world and Africa in particular on the foreign policy front. We have garnered so much experience in the process but have little documented for posterity and for telling our own stories. It took us decades before we could lay our hands on the memoirs of top diplomats after the late Gen. Joe Garba’s ‘Diplomatic Soldiering’ . I’m sure that many in this audience are looking forward to that magisterial memoirs from Professor Bolaji Akinyemi which will give us the inside track on many of the foreign policy successes and challenges on his watch. Recently, one of our most respected intelligence chiefs, General Aliyu Gusau made a rare public intervention on the crucial but secret role Nigeria played in the dying days of apartheid in collaboration with President FW DE Klerk and many of us only knew of this exploit from that tribute. Imagine if General Aliyu Gusau were to write his memoirs. I’m sure that can only add value to the development of our foreign policy. I am hoping that the new NIIA under my friend and brother will take this as one of its core responsibilities; in saying this, I also hope NIIA would seriously consider relocating it’s headquarters to the centre of foreign policy making and practice – Abuja because distance from the centre can also relegate the institution to irrelevance in my view.
d. Reasserting our relevance and importance in relevant international institutions: It has become evident that the more involved Nigeria is in the affairs of continental and sub-regional organizations that it belongs to, the more dynamic these institutions are in carrying out their mandates, as enshrined in the treaties and normative instruments that established them. Given the enormous resources that Nigeria diligently contributes to these institutions, we are duty-bound to ensure that these institutions carry out their mandates to the best means possible.
e. Establishing the linkages between our domestic and foreign policy needs and adopting a strategic approach to attaining the latter. I started thus presentation by drawing the linkage between our domestic affairs and our foreign policy. It bears emphasis that without such alignment, whatever we do may end up being an exercise in futility.
46. Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen, once again, it has been my honour to be here to share these thoughts with you today. I conclude by affirming that Nigeria can only make the world a better place when it is able to effectively deal with her domestic challenges and then project her greatness and manifest destiny upon the rest of Africa. Charity begins at home!
47. Helping the world to understand this is one of the tasks which the NIIA may want to take on as it celebrates its diamond jubilee. Happy anniversary to the NIIA. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I thank you for your kind attention.
48. I thank you most sincerely for listening!
• Fayemi, the Ekiti State Governor, and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, delivered this address on the occasion of the NIIA @ 60 Distinguished Lecture at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), 13/15 Kofo Abayomi Road, Victoria Island, Lagos