For­mer Di­rec­tor­gen­eral, Nige­rian In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs, Prof Bola Ak­in­ter­inwa


One of the is­sues Nige­ria faced last year was xeno­pho­bic at­tacks on its na­tion­als in South Africa. The only way it can be pre­vented on a per­ma­nent ba­sis is if the gov­ern­ment of Nige­ria en­sures that its South African coun­ter­part changes the per­cep­tion of its peo­ple. When that is done, then, we can ex­pect at least a change in at­ti­tude. The sec­ond way is the in­tro­duc­tion of the rule of rec­i­proc­ity in all our agree­ments. In our diplo­matic re­la­tions as a whole, Nige­ria’s for­eign pol­icy must not be sim­ply re­ac­tive; it must be proac­tive. If you look at Sec­tion 2 of the con­sti­tu­tion, un­der for­eign pol­icy ob­jec­tive, it is stated that one of Nige­ria’s for­eign pol­icy ob­jec­tive would be to re­spect in­ter­na­tional treaties. How can the for­eign pol­icy of a coun­try be to re­spect in­ter­na­tional law? I can­not as a pro­fes­sional stu­dent un­der­stand that. I want to be­lieve that it is an er­ror in state­ment. If you (Nige­ria) want to put a stop to the em­bar­rass­ment across the world, then have a for­eign pol­icy of grandeur. As it is, Nige­ria doesn’t have any for­eign pol­icy of diplo­matic pro­tec­tion.

On the visa on ar­rival pol­icy, the point is why any rea­son­able gov­ern­ment would want to fa­cil­i­tate the en­try of all man­ners of peo­ple, es­pe­cially when the agents of ISIS and their mer­ce­nar­ies have been com­pletely neu­tralised and Boko Haram in­sur­gents in Nige­ria is one of their part­ners. I do not know whether the sit­u­a­tion we find our­selves is truly re­deemable with this kind of pol­icy. It’s the worst pol­icy I have seen as a pro­fes­sional stu­dent.

And on the African Con­ti­nen­tal Free Trade Agree­ment, it is a very good pol­icy; beau­ti­ful on pa­per, but there are is­sues to take note of. When you say you are pro­mot­ing trade, what are you trad­ing in? Even if a coun­try like South Africa can lay claim to a fairly ad­vanced in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion, what is the level of in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion in Nige­ria, the so-called big­gest econ­omy in Africa? How many goods do we man­u­fac­ture? Why did we close the land borders with our neigh­bours? It was be­cause of the vi­o­la­tion of the prin­ci­ple of the rule of ori­gin and same is­sue would be ap­pli­ca­ble to the AFCFTA. Again, the in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ment Nige­ria re­quires to pro­tect its na­tional pro­duc­tiv­ity is not there, there­fore, it will only be­come a dump­ing ground for all man­ners of im­ported goods. Con­se­quently, I would say it is not time for Nige­ria to rat­ify the agree­ment.

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