When added to “Nigeria and the World: Domestic and Foreign Policy Challenges in the Next Millennium” which he delivered on February 24th, 1999, the speech here makes Professor Ibrahim Gambari the most forthcoming discussant of Nigerian foreign policy in the post Cold War. During the Cold War, that position was held by Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, with particular reference to unpacking the black box called foreign policy in a way that makes a global actor of a country such as Nigeria. Given the constitutive force of discourse, especially where the promoter is a Prof Gambari who is still a powerful voice in the making of Nigerian foreign policy, this speech demands full publication and critical consumption by all those keen on the role of foreign policy in the possible remaking of Nigeria.
The speech is reducible to a foreign policy treatise given Gambari’s emphasis on the elite in terms of the driving force of (Nigerian) foreign policy. As such, the absence of such turning points in Nigerian foreign policy as Germany’s miraculous overtaking of the rest of Europe by the end of the 19th century; Japan’s feat in overcoming historic adversity; Iraq’s unbelievable success in reverse engineering strategy; China’s remaking of history, among others, are to be understood not in Nigerian foreign policy itself but in the Nigerian elite, a definitively ‘domestic’ parameter. Seen that way, the speech which has clearly three segments still ends up a foreign policy treatise. In this regard, paragraphs 14 – 17 will most likely shock particularly those who partook in the IMF loan debate of the 1980s in its radical, categorical endorsement of the popular position then and ever since that there is no alternative to the developmental state or that SAP/neoliberalism will kill and bury Nigeria.
In this Keynote Address at the August 26th, 2017 Memorial Lecture in honour of Prof AbdulRaufu Mustapha who died as a Professor of African Politics at Oxford University in the UK on August 8th, 2017, Prof Gambari can be said to have issued a summoning, particularly in his idea that “What is required is to mobilize the entire nation in the service of Nigeria’s development agenda”. The founder and Chairman of the Abuja based Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, (SCDDD), Gambari has been a former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, former Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN and a UN Diplomat.
I thank you all for giving me this opportunity to address this distinguished audience as part of a befitting honour to a fallen hero, brother and colleague, Professor Abdulraufu Mustapha. When I reflect on the remarkable trajectory of Raufu, as he was affectionately known, having known himfirst from his youth in Ilorin, then as a junior colleague at the Political Science Department Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria in late 1970’s and effectively acted as the “Father of the Day” at his wedding to Kate Maegher in Toronto, Canada on 11th August, 1990; it is both particularly sad and also a great honour to celebrate the life and times of this great African scholar. Sad, because it is difficult for me to speak about him in the past tense. However, we cannot question Allah when one of our best and brightest is called home.After all, “Ina LillahiwainaIlaharaj’uun’ (from Him we have come and to Him we shall return). Indeed, as in the Holy Qur’an, Suratu Al-Baqarah, “Rabbanaawailaykal-masir” Our Lord, and to thee is the end of all journeys). Raufu had come to the end of his journey here on earth and we pray that Allah will grant him “Al-JannahFirdaus” and thus reward him in heaven as one of His most diligent and faithful servants here on earth, Ameen.
2. In recalling Raufu’s antecedents and achievements, we celebrate a truly remarkable life. He taught at Oxford University for nearly two decades, having earlier taught at ABU, Zaria, and Bayero University in Kano, and remained active in the work of the Dakar-based Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA).His diverse areas of interest ranged from democratisation in Africa, to identity politics and ethnicity, to the politics of rural societies in Africa: topics to which he always brought rich insights and a consistent commitment to fairness and humaneness. In this regard, permit me to begin on two personal notes. First, I wish to recognize here the presence of Raufu‘s dedicated and loyal wife, Kate- a true Nigerian wife! – and their two lovely children: Asma’u and Seyi and secondly, Raufu played an instrumental role in conceptualizing the establishment of the Abuja-based Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy, and Development which I founded and now chair. He personified many of the themes and issues I intend to underscore that sit at the intersection of Democracy, Development and Foreign Policy.The latter theme is a subject that I know was close to Raufu’s heart. He had co-edited a book in 2008 titled Gulliver’s Troubles: Nigeria Foreign Policy After the Cold War, with another fellow Oxford-trained Nigerian scholar, Adekeye Adebajo. I had also contributed a chapter to this book on the theory and practice of Nigeria’s foreign policy from Balewa to Obasanjo and in this lecture the story is taken further: from Balewa to Buhari.
3. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, some of you well seated here were either Raufu’s colleagues, or was trained or have encountered him through some of his works. You are likely well aware of his commitment to peaceful forms of conflict resolution, global democracy, development and shaping Nigerian foreign policy to make a difference in the world. As I intend to argue in my presentation, nations are built by exemplary men and women and sustained by institutions that promote good governance and socio-economic development. Professor Mustapha is a shining example of one such a person. He dedicated his life to the promotion of a good and just society in a nation that defends the right of its citizens to life, choice of those to govern them and to development.
Democracy and Development
4. Although our pain and sorrow at losing him is still raw and palpable, Raufu would have wished for us to somehow find the inner strength to try to convert this period of individual and collective grief into an energizer for galvanizing collective reflection and action towards the goal of a better and fairer society in which, through his writings and activism, he selflessly invested himself throughout his life. I sincerely hope that our gathering here today will go some way to fulfill that purpose. I also hope that our deliberations here today will mark just one dimension of the many self-critical questions we must continue to ask of ourselves about the multifold crises buffeting our world generally and our continent, Africa, in particular.
5. Raufu in his lifetime was a scholar with many parts and interests. His work on the post-colonial state, the working poor, the politics of emancipation, the unfinished business of nation-building, the role of the military, and other related subjects spoke to his passion about building a more just society founded on principles of equity, inclusion, fairness, and freedom at all levels. It is, therefore, apt that the topic that has been selected for this memorial lecture is on Democracy, Development and Foreign Policy. In many ways, the topic summarizes the core essence of Raufu’s lifelong preoccupation and struggles. For a person who, like many of us, came of age in a context of prolonged military rule in Nigeria and experiments in elected civilian government that left a lot to be demanded, it would not be surprising that a good proportion of his work centered on the politics of democratization and the democratization of politics. Integral to this preoccupation, indeed organic to his understand of politics in general and the struggle for democratic governance in particular was an abiding engagement with the politics of development.
6. More than ever before in the history of the world, elected government based on the principle and practice of the universal suffrage, a system of internal checks and balances in the administration of public affairs, and an agreed constitutional order, enjoys an overwhelming dominance as the preferred form of governance. On the face of things, and without prejudice to legitimate debates about the type and quality of electoral pluralism that is operated across different jurisdictions, the world has never been more democratic than it is today. The interpretations that have been put on this by scholars have been many and varied. Samuel Huntington, for example, pinpointed what he described as the “third wave” of democratization in recent world history to take us to the current state of a near-universal adoption of electoral pluralism. Francis Fukuyama, studying the same broad trend of political reforms across different countries, proclaimed the “end of history” in celebration of what he saw as the triumph of market and political liberalization over étatist central planning and political monopoly. Yet, the reality of the contestation between the forces of the status quo and those of change would constitute the dynamics of history in perpetuity.
7. Indeed and ironically, even as the temptation has been strong to celebrate the dawn of the most democratic era in human history, voices of discontent have been many and diverse about the failings and limitations of democratic governance as it has been practiced over the last few decades. Evidence of disaffection with the practice of electoral politics around the word is visible and growing. It includes widespread and deepening voter disaffection translated in places such as Europe and North Africa into consistently declining voter turnout. It also manifests itself in the precipitous decline of political parties. Youth alienation from electoral politics, the continuing marginalization of women from the core of the political space, and the exclusion of minorities from effective participation and representation have, additionally, fed into a growing politics of anti- politics. The deficits of trust in established institutions of representation, participation, and accountability are, in turn, fueling new forms of anti-establishment extremisms that range from the political to the religious.
8. In the face of the discontents with contemporary democratic politics emanating from diverse sources of unhappiness and disaffection, it has become commonplace to hear from concerned sources about a growing democratic fatigue and recession around the world. These concerns are being expressed more loudly in the face of the rise of new populist movements with views that were previously mostly confined to the fringes of the far right but which have now found their way into the mainstream to a point of threatening established political institutions across the political spectrum. There is also a growing feeling that democracy as a system of government is no longer as fit for purpose as it ought to be. Apart from problems of representation and participation which seem to be mounting, observers have also pointed to the increasing inadequacy of existing politico-governance structures, methods, and processes for effectively engaging the youth and women. Furthermore, across many democracies around the world, lackluster economic performance has gone hand-in-hand with mounting social problems against the backdrop of the retrenchment of social policy benefits.
9. Paradoxically, at the same time as discontent and disaffection with the dominant practice of democracy has been building up, interest has been growing in the governance “model” represented by contemporary developmental states which are registering impressive rates of growth and overseeing a massive process of social transformation without the “inefficiencies” and “incoherences” of multiparty political systems and the discontents associated with them. The notion of “looking East” towards the experience of countries like China in driving an impressive global balance of power-altering domestic programme of structural transformation has gathered some traction among diverse political actors around the world, including Africa. Bequeathed with multiparty democratic systems which are marred by electoral violence, widespread corruption, and an excessive presidentialism amidst enduring poverty, unsustainable levels of unemployment among the youth, growing inequality, an eroded state-society compact, and threats to the unity and secularity of the state, questions abound about the relevance and utility of contemporary democratic practice.
10. There is a lively debate going on about the roots of the current state of generalized discontent and disaffection with democracy. Some have suggested that the core of the problem is to be located in the excessive emphasis on liberal political pillars of democracy to the exclusion of the social and economic pillars. Thus, while competitive elections are necessary for democratic practice and renewal, democracies are required to deliver much more to the citizenry; elections are necessary but are not sufficient for democracies to thrive and prosper. Others have argued that the challenges faced by many democracies around the world are due to the prevalence of form and ritual over substance and innovation. Elections, rather than delivering the kinds of changes citizens yearn for, have become a game of musical chairs in which alternation of power among dominant political actors simply produces a situation of plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose, (the more things change, the more they remain the same).
11. Furthermore, concerned observers have suggested that over the last three decades, democratic politics has been emptied of politics, ideology, and all-embracing visions of society in favour of uniformizing technocratic policies that constrain politics and erode mass participation. The effect is felt around the world and it has not been assuaged by the sobering realization that where yesterday, in the spirit of genuine political competition, electoral pluralism offered citizens choice and variety, an enforced convergence of policies seems today to produce a politics of choicelessness and monotony that has left the electorate forlorn. Unsurprisingly, trust in multiparty politics and the politicians who drive it has declined over recent years. The tendency of the average politician in office to be excessively self-absorbed whilst service to the public suffers has compounded the growing feeling that contemporary democratic institutions and processes are broken and in need of replacement. In this context, former President Barrack Obama has suggested in an address to the Ghanaian Parliament that what African needs is not strong leaders but strong institutions. In my view Africa needs both because weak leaders tend to undermine the emergence of strong institutions.
12. Similarly, I wish to suggest that whether as cause or symptom or a combination of both, the explanations of the failings of contemporary democracy around the world are underpinned and put in context by the development deficits that have become manifest both in the theory and practice of democracy-building. At the level of theory, there is a prevalence of minimalist definitions of democracy that privilege electoral processes and whose translation into practice has resulted in an excessive emphasis on the pro forma and a neglect of the substantive.
13. Indeed, amidst a perennial but largely false debate as to whether countries, depending on their circumstances, should prioritize democracy or development first, we will do well to remember and keep in mind that:
a. Democracy is a permanent work in progress just as development is also always an unfinished business. This implies that one aspect of the democracy-development nexus cannot be stopped or suspended at the expense of the other. Rather, they ought to be pursued together.
b. Democracy is good in itself and is a key heritage that must be nurtured constantly as part of our drive to enhance human civilization but precisely because of that, it cannot be treated as an end in itself lest we risk becoming too abstract and disconnected from the day-to-day concerns of the populace that include socio-economic livelihood issues.
c. All around the world, citizens across different historical periods have indicated through direct popular action that they cherish the freedom and liberties offered by democracy just as they celebrate the concrete improvements in livelihood that development policy and action delivers.
d. Sustainable democracies are those which not only ensure the integrity of democratic processes and institutions but also go a further step to deliver socio-economic dividends to the populace in order to enable them enjoy the fullness of their citizenship.
e. Sustainable development happens not only when governments are able to increase productive capacities and translate same into higher levels of income for the members of society but also underpin the socio-economic system with strong commitments to citizen political participation and representation of the type that can exact accountability and discipline leadership to a shared vision of society.
14. It seems to me that the overarching explanatory variable for the recent travails of democracy that have triggered alarm bells about a worldwide recession in democratic governance is to be found in the abandonment from the late 1970s of the post-Second World War commitment to the promotion of development policies that were at the heart of the social contract between state and society. Central to that contract and to development policy-making was the goal of human development through growth- and – productivity-enhancing, employment-creating, income-improving, and welfare-promoting economic and social policies. Through the contract, it was possible for citizens to embrace democracy as a system of government that also delivered their development aspirations, and to do with a strong commitment by political actors to competing notions of the fair society.
15. During the course of the 1970s, a gradual process began whose ultimate end was the dismantling of the post-War state-society compact and the relegation of the development commitments of the state to the background. This was done through the enthronement of a peculiar vision of society in which free, deregulated markets would become the drivers of policy and politics just as the state itself was reduced to a minimalist stander-by allegedly playing a watchman role. Over the last three and half decades, we have seen the expansion of the remit of the free market in determining our lives, reshaping societal values, and reallocating power as part of a uniformising and unidirectional neo-liberal revolution that has sought to subordinate politics and governance to the ideals of the free market. Rapid and wholesale liberalization on a global scale has translated especially in Africa into weakened governments and local systems of accountability, disempowered citizens, and dislocated societies. These dysfunctions have been accentuated by the repeated episodes of local and global economic crises that the world has experienced over the last 35 years. They have also rendered the democratic system of government almost irrelevant to the yearnings of the populace whilst creating new heights of inequality, corruption, and exclusion that the world has not seen in a long time.
16. To stem and overcome the challenges facing democracies around the world, it seems clear to me that:
a. Development will have to be re-centred to be at the heart of policy and politics.
b. A new social compact between state and society will need to be established to serve as a framework for the exercise of citizenship and the measurement of progress.
c. The state, hobbled and hollowed out in too many countries of the world, will need to be re-engineered to become a key fulcrum around which progress can be structured.
d. Unidirectional policies of marketization will need to be tamed and the market itself treated as an instrument for driving human development according to the broad aspirations of society.
17. It is partly in recognition of the fact that democracy without development and development without democracy will amount, sooner or later, to a futile effort at clapping with one hand that attention has recently shifted to the theorization of democratic developmental states. It is heartening that much of the pioneering effort at theorizing this new state form has come from Africa and it proceeds from the premise that citizens deserve and should enjoy democracy and development. It is a promising premise which I commend to this audience and I invite the scholarly community to research further in the conviction that our democracies will only make sense to the citizenry and endure if they are developmental and our development will only be sustainable if it is democratic. I believe, having had the privilege of some three and half decades of close interaction with Raufu and gained firsthand familiarity with the development of his thinking that this is an approach he would endorse too.
III. The Domestic Sources of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy
18. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, in addressing the third section of this lecture which has to do with foreign policy and as a scholar-diplomat for the last five decades, I have been intrigued by the interplay of domestic forces and the external environment in the formulation of the foreign policy of a developing country like Nigeria. I have also been an active proponent of the need for Nigeria to develop a conceptual framework to guide its foreign policy, based on such ideas as “concentric circles” of interests at the domestic, regional, and external levels. In this regard, as I have consistently noted, Nigeria has the human and physical resources necessary to influence the international system in its own national interest. By the mid-1970s, Nigeria was showing clear signs of political stability, increasing wealth at home, and growing influence abroad. Two major elements of power were responsible for Nigeria’s increasing strength: population and oil. Nigeria, with a population currently estimated at 180 million, has the largest citizenry in Africa. About one out of every five Africans and one in every two West Africans is a Nigerian, while the next most populous country in the continent, Ethiopia, has just over half as many inhabitants as Nigeria. Second, Nigeria is the 13th largest oil-producing country in the world in 2016, and a leading member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Nigeria produces over one million barrels of oil a day, and has gas reserves that could supply the whole of Western Europe.
19. These major strengths are, however, also sources of potential and real weakness. As Raufu Mustapha has often noted in his scholarship. Nigeria’s “national” question of unifying its over 250 ethnic groups speaking over 100 languages into one nation has eluded satisfactory answers, largely because of the intense competition for a share of the “national cake” among segments of the national elite. The management of Nigeria’s petroleum resources has been so inept and corrupt that the country’s oil “boom” has almost become its economic and social “doom”. All along, Nigeria’s vast human and physical resources have rarely been matched with the entrepreneurship, unity, integrity, and vision on the part of the country’s political leadership. Nigeria continues to suffer from indebtedness; its economy is currently suffering its first recession in 25 years; it has experienced three decades of military misrule, while Boko Haram has killed an estimated 20,000 people and internally displaced nearly 2 million people since 2009, even as militias in the oil-producing Delta region have cut oil exports by a third. As Raufu perceptively noted: “There remains a fundamental ‘legitimacy deficit’ at the core of the Nigerian state.”
20. It is now widely recognised that, in Nigeria, there is a direct relationship between domestic politics and the making of foreign policy. The domestic system and the conduct of politics invariably affect the conduct of external relations. The question must also be asked, as Raufu, often did: Whose foreign policy are we talking about anyway? Nigeria’s foreign policy has never been directly related to the needs of the masses of its people; rather this policy has been formulated, articulated, and implemented in highly elitist circles. Hence, the country’s foreign relations have reflected the needs and aspirations of a national elite of political, business, bureaucratic, military, and traditional ruling groups. The history of Nigeria’s foreign policy has thus been, to some extent, related to a quest for national consensus behind the major goals and objectives of its external relations. Never very cohesive, Nigeria’s national elite is deeply divided along ethnic, regional, religious, and ideological lines: a point Raufu dealt with extensively in his own innovative chapter in Gulliver’s Troubles, the book referred to earlier, titled “The Three Faces of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy: Nationhood, Identity, and External Relations.”
21. In this chapter, Raufu elegantly described three distinct “faces” of Nigerian foreign policy: first, the formal world of diplomats, technocrats, national institutions, and formal negotiations; second, the manner in which Nigeria’s “fractured” nationhood has negatively affected its foreign policy goals; and third, the impact of Nigeria’s global reputation – for widespread corruption and fraud, though this is often unnuanced and unfair – or “identity” on its foreign policy. Raufu argued that, since the last two “faces” imposed unnecessary costs on Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives, they needed to be prioritized in the formal foreign policy process.
22. Other than the energies and resources put into building a West African market for Nigeria’s manufactured goods which culminated in the establishment of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 1975, no serious efforts have been made to change the direction and pattern of Nigeria’s external trade. Nigeria’s elite is hardly renowned for its vision and foresight or for its willingness to accept sacrifices needed to build a diversified economy that is not dependent on oil for over 90 percent of foreign exchange earnings, as is currently the case. On the contrary, this elite is more renowned for its penchant for conspicuous consumption of imported consumer goods, for its rent-seeking activities, and for a tendency to rely on patronage-fuelled “contractocracy” to enrich itself, issues that Mustapha dealt with courageously in his intellectual work.
23. The core aspects of Nigeria’s foreign policy for a new millennium should be the articulation and defense of its national interest which is based on the promotion of peace and security, as well as development and democratization at home and abroad. In this regard, Nigeria must establish, both in principle and in practice, an approach that recognises that it is no longer enough to seek what the country can do for others, but what it can do together with other nations in the pursuit of common interests. Hence, the principle and practice of “burden-sharing” and “shared responsibilities” should govern even those external endeavors which are in our national interest. A good example of this was the subsuming of about 3,500 Nigerian peacekeepers into a UN mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), after the withdrawal of 8500 Nigerian troops by 2000. The UN thus took over the financial costs of the peacekeepers from Nigeria, and provided some of the logistical equipment that the country lacked.
24. The post 9/11 global environment has given rise to many terrorist organizations hitherto unknown. Thus the barbaric activities of terrorist groups such as Al Shabaab, Daesh/ISIL, Al-Qaida and Boko Haram against humanity are enormous and thus undermine universal values of dignity and the worth of the human person. They have brazenly kidnapped young girls, systematically denied women’s rights, destroyed cultural institutions, warped the peaceful values of religions, and brutally murdered thousands of innocents around the world”.In Nigeria for example, where we witnessed horrendous extremist group especially the activities of Boko Haram terrorist group in the past years, the Global Terrorism Index, posited that in 2014 alone, Boko Haram killed 6,644 people and rendered more than a million homeless thereby producing many Internally Displaced Persons especially in the North-East region of Nigeria. Due to the brutality and viciousness of Boko Haram and other sectarian attacks on civilian population in Nigeria in the period under review, shows that Boko Haram was deadlier than ISIS and Al Shabaab combined.
25. In developing a framework and action plan to combat terrorism and violent extremist groups in the sub-region, a multifaceted and comprehensive approach must be developed including degrading their military capabilities and implementing a peacebuilding strategies which addresses the following;
(i) Widespread conditions of conflict; poverty, social inequality and injustices, unemployment and ignorance leading to breeding grounds for terrorist recruits.
(ii) Endemic corruption, weak State institutions and stagnated socio-economic development.
(iii) Existence of smuggling networks and sundry trans-national crimes which provides financial support for the activities of terrorist groups.
(iv) Movement of illegal/economic migrants susceptible to crime within the West African sub-region and beyond in search of greener pastures.
(v) The problem of huge youth unemployment. This is indeed, a serious threat to peace and security especially in a country like Nigeria where 62% of population is under 24 and median age is 18.2years.
26. The development agenda must also remain a top foreign policy priority. Nigeria must go beyond the slogan of “economic diplomacy” – popularized during General Ike Nwachukwu’s tenure as Foreign Minister in the late 1980s – since all diplomacy clearly has an economic dimension. What is required is to mobilize the entire nation in the service of Nigeria’s development agenda. In this regard, Nigeria must reverse the curse of national indiscipline which has retarded its development efforts over the last six decades. As they address these problems at all levels of society, Nigeria’s leaders must also create an environment for sustainable development. The building and repairing of the country’s dilapidated infrastructure, greater internal savings, and domestic private investment would facilitate the enabling environment for direct private foreign investment.
27. Furthermore, in a world increasingly dominated by economic giants and the movement towards greater regional economic integration, Nigeria – accounting for about 70 percent of West Africa’s economy and being Africa’s largest economy – should be at the forefront of efforts to build viable and effective economic communities in Africa. In this regard, Nigeria needs to adopt a “two-track” approach towards integration in West Africa: a “fast track” for countries like Nigeria which are ready to move more rapidly than others on monetary and political issues, while countries in a slower second track will be encouraged to catch up with the pace-setters. At the continental level, Nigeria must signal its commitment to a faster pace of economic co-operation and integration by lending full support to the African Union (AU) and NEPAD.
28. Returning to the domestic level of analysis, Nigeria’s ministry of Foreign Affairs has become a bureaucracy in urgent need of reshaping and strengthening. I offer three suggestions for reform. First, a new Foreign Service Commission should be established and tasked with the duty of producing and managing highly professional and properly motivated diplomats. The Commission’s highest priority must be assigned to enhancing the professionalism of the Foreign Service. Although the major civil service reforms of the 1970s highlighted the need for continuous training and specialization for Foreign Service personnel, the reality has been that a “cult of the generalist” has persisted. The need for specialization and training cannot be overemphasized. The functional responsibilities and global reach of Nigeria’s embassies require that recruitment, training, and specialization be accorded special consideration. The principle of maintaining a “federal character” for Foreign Service Officers – as Raufu often noted – need not be done at the expense of merit, talent, and efficiency.
29. The second, and perhaps most urgent, reform of the Foreign Service is the need to ensure an adequate level of funding. Over time, the growth in Nigeria’s external activities and responsibilities has not been matched by corresponding budgetary allocations. One cannot build an effective Foreign Service that delivers on the country’s foreign policy goals on the cheap. A third critical area of concern is how to relate foreign policy objectives more closely with Nigeria’s external economic and trade relations. The country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has never become the focal point for political or institutional coordination of all external relations. One major casualty has been the decoupling of foreign policy from international trade and general economic relations.
30. In concluding this memorial lecture, it is critical to note that Nigeria’s leadership in Africa must not rest on ascription; it must be earned and earned continuously. Nigeria’s hope for re-establishing and sustaining its leadership in Africa and the world depends on five critical factors. First, and quite elementary, as Raufu noted in his conclusion in Gulliver’s Troubles: charity begins at home. We cannot preach abroad what we do not practice at home. There is a proverb in Ilorin – where Raufu and I are from – which I believe is common to other cultures in Nigeria that “if someone offers you a gift of clothing, check what he or she is wearing.” To put it more elegantly in the Latin maxim “nemodat quod non habet” meaning: “you cannot give what you do not have”. In this regard, Chinua Achebe famously noted in 1983 that “the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely the failure of leadership.” This issue of a failure of leadership was also a thread that ran through much of Raufu’s scholarship.
31. Second, Nigeria should return to the creativity, vision, and commitment which in the past, the country has demonstrated in the creation of inter-governmental bodies such as the AU and ECOWAS. These qualities pivoted Nigeria to an enviable leadership role within these organisations, and through them, to the international community as a whole.
32. Third, we must be at the forefront of taking the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) to the next level. The APRM is a voluntary mechanism to which 37 African nations belong. Its goal is to promote political, economic, democratic governance, and socio-economic development. In my view, Nigeria should provide leadership to the APRM of which I am honoured to serve as a member of the Eminent Panel, in two critical areas: first, deepening the processes of peer review process of member states through greater involvement of civil society, NGOs and the private sector; and secondly, promoting the universal adherence to the APRM by all member states of the African Union.
33. Fourth, another topic close to Raufu’s heart in his scholarship on Nigeria’s foreign policy: we should utilise the country’s Diaspora to the fullest advantage, not only for our own development agenda, but as a potent source of our external influence in Africa and beyond. And, it is my hope that in thinking about the potential of the Nigerian Diaspora for our domestic socio-economic development as well as for the country’s external influence and leadership, we should look beyond the usual suspects in the United States and Western Europe and seek Diasporas in other African countries, the Middle East, and Asia.
34. The fifth priority in fulfilling Nigeria’s leadership ambitions is the articulation and pursuit of clear and consistent foreign policy principles and agenda. The world needs to know where Nigeria stands on the great issues of the day: globalization, human rights, disarmament, free trade and economic integration. The articulation of a coherent foreign policy is not a luxury. Rather, it is an external projection of our values as a nation, as well as the promotion of our national interests and our world view.
35. Finally, as Raufu noted in his conclusion to the aforementioned 2008 edited book, Gulliver’s Troubles: “There is still a feeling that Nigeria’s diplomacy is punching below its rightful weight.” Raufu’s consistent stress on democratic governance; reducing the dangerous socio-economic fault-lines of inequality between Northern and Southern Nigeria; tackling institutional decay; and building consensus for domestic development and an effective foreign policy, all deserve to be considered seriously in overcoming the continuing domestic challenges of Pax Nigeriana.
36. It is my belief that in holding this lecture, the spirit of Prof Abdulraufu will be pleased while we pray that the Almighty Allah will be pleased with him. Meanwhile, let us keep his memory alive by applying our minds to solving the puzzles and problems of our time for the betterment of our people and humanity. In doing so, we would succeed in keeping the flame of scholarship in the service of human progress which he joined others to light aglow for all time. Raufu would wish for nothing less than this.
Long live the legacy of Raufu and long live his memory.
I thank you for your kind attention.