The Federal Government has adopted ‘Nigeria First’ as the new foreign policy, noting that the shift was meant to reflect domestic realities.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who disclosed this to diplomatic correspondents in Abuja on Thursday, explained that the President Muhammadu Buhari would focus on nine key priority areas in his second term.
According to him, the focus areas include building a virile economy, enlarging agricultural output, energy sufficiency, expansion of transport and infrastructure, and expanding business growth, entrepreneurship, and industrialisation.
Others are expanding 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.
Highlighting the new foreign policy thrust, Onyeama stated that the government was 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 said.
The minister further said if the nation adopts a concentric circle methodology, the first priority would be Nigeria’s contiguous neighbours such as Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.
At the sub-regional level of the Economic Community of West African States, Onyeama said Nigeria was 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.
Onyeama advised foreign ambassadors and heads of missions accredited to Nigeria to always engage the government through the normal diplomatic channels.
He noted that some diplomats were reported to have gone into areas that are considered sensitive for political or security reasons and for purposes that were not always very clear.
“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 admonished.
He also asked foreign envoys to always engage the MFA to ensure a cohesive position on all important national issues.