DOES NIGERIA STILL HAVE A NATIONAL INTEREST?
In one of my Postgraduate Classes, Prof. Ozoemenam Mbachu, Ph.D., mni in the Course, Foreign Policy Analysis asked a crucial question thus:
Does Nigeria still have a NATIONAL INTEREST?
I pondered and reminisced on the ingenuity of the question asked and I was lost in wonderment.
Mbachu (2011) defined National Interest as the expression of core socio-economic and political ideals, values and aspirations which are well defended at home, and pursued or promoted or defended beyond national boundaries.
The impression, therefore is that national interest is not defined by what happens at the domestic setting only but the sun total of interests pursued or projected, or defended in the international setting.
One will wonder the lowest ebb Nigeria has been reduced to at the International arena. The long silence is sickening and bewildering.
At first, I thought it was a function of ignorance but I later discovered its more of knowing the right thing to do and choosing not to do.
Our President travels for international assignments in the company of politicians without good knowledge of our national interest as a country while other Heads of State travel for international assignments alongside technocrats, policy makers, Heads of Agencies, diplomats etc.
These bright minds will project their countries’ values and ideals. You rarely see career diplomats from Nigeria advise our dear President because he sees little or none of their significance.
My dear Professor alluded to the role Nigeria played in the Liberian Civil War with nothing to show for it today. While countries like Algeria, USA etc have stakes in LIBERIA today Nigeria has nothing to show for the loss of her gallant soldiers and troops.
A sad thing to know
Senior Research Fellows of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) who should be in the delegation of the President for international assignments are rarely seen and given opportunity to express their intellectual curiosity and contribute to national development.
Ditto to other parastatals in Nigeria whose mandates revolves around projecting Nigeria’s national interest. They are more or less academic woods and maggots. We have failed to learn from the myriads of political actions that guided the formulation of Nigeria’s foreign policy from independence till date.
The leadership of Nigeria should not relegate the place of our academic institutions as the think tank of the government. The International arena is a serious business and Nigeria should be an active key player if she understands her place among the committee of nations in Africa
The Arch-realist, Hans Morgenthau in his book, “Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace” noted: “At the International arena, whatever the ultimate aim might be, the immediate aim is always POWER”.
It’s never late for Nigeria to project her interests and wield enormous influence at the international arena. Our national interest should be one that promotes nationalism NOT ethnic chauvinism.
Ifeoluwa Ariyo-Agbaje is a Postgraduate Student of Defence and Strategic Studies at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna.