As Germany marks its national day, Paul Obi explores the geopolitics of the country and Nigeria’s diplomacy in a broader context 

In a world of turbulence and uncertainty, Germany’s place in the global power configuration is as much a strong force, and a critical global player. Holding on to Europe as the powerhouse and European Union (EU) biggest economy, in the last three decades, Germany has held on to this power, in a more audacious and remarkable way than expected. Under Angela Merkel, Germany became the centrepiece of global power. Emboldened by former President Donald Trump’s America First Policy, Merkel reset the global power equation and repurposed Germany’s foreign policy, where it became the centrepiece of the global public sphere and world affairs. 

Until her exit from power and as German Chancellor, Germany was the indisputable world power in many lightsFrom defence, EU’s economic powerhouse, manufacturing, aviation and other critical needs, Germany showed in more than one aspects of how to aggregate global power and economic scale. But as Germany and the rest of Europe grew in bounds and reach, its energy and the source was primarily, and regrettably outsourced to Russia and the Kremlin. A policy that has now fortified the Kremlin under Vladimir Putin, now weaponzing gas and energy supply to Germany and other EU members, following the Russian-Ukranian war. With winter fast approaching, the weaponization of gas and energy now appears imminent. A situation that policy wonks believed is the greatest diplomatic threat in the turn of the century for Europe as a continent. 

EU Director General on Trade, Sabine Weyand, also a German argued that EU’s greatest diplomatic flop was the centralization and dependency on Russia and China. A miscalculation Germany is culpable and guilty of, and it’s now having a a big toll on the rest of Europe. Speaking with London-based Financial Times, Weyand explained that “we found out that we are dependent on Russia not just for fossil fuel, but on a number of critical raw materials. We can’t afford that . . . Then we realise that there are certain dependencies with respect to China, and there also we have to be careful: we never know when dependencies might get weaponised.” 

Why Germany was surrounding its energy sources to Russia, it left blank bilateral relations with Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy. The bilateral trade between the two continental giants of Europe and Africa hovered around $3.5 billion; with oil accounting for about $1.77 billion in 2021. Though, there are points of interactions and intersections on trade, there are no concrete or deliverable plans beyond the fringes on trade and what this writer will term curtail diplomacy in Lagos and Berlin spearheaded by chambers of commerce. 

For more than six decades now, Germany and Nigeria’s diplomatic relations never moved beyond those curtails or got consolidated. Conversely, there are many great areas the two giants can build and foster big time trade agreements which would in turn enrich their diplomatic relations. These are conversations that the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Brigitt Ory and Consul General, Bernd Von Munchow-Pohl should lead and shape in Berlin. Thus, there’s every need for German companies to explore Nigerian agricultural sector and move the needle to mechanized farming where the two countries will definitely garner comparative advantages. With the Kremlin now threatening Germany and the rest of Europe by politicising gas supply, it is incumbent on the German government under the new Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, to rethink its approach to the abundant Nigerian gas reserves. A retooling and redirection of Germany’s energy policy, with Nigeria as a strategic partner will definitely reset Germany’s balance of power in Europe and globally. 

But more troubling, and as Wolfgang Ishinger noted in his classic work, World in Danger: Germany and Europe in an Uncertain Time, Germany’s foreign policy has for too long resided in a passive stance, particularly, in Africa, that a more robust debate about Africa and Germany now needs to take centre stage. Ishinger, for instance, argued that “debate on fundamental foreign policy questions of our time is avoided rather than sort” despite increasing “greater foreign policy challenges.” For example, in Africa, Germany has not pursued rigorous approaches in which Nigeria is a formidable partner. The move to locate Germany’s Information and Cultural Centre Africa outside Nigeria is a case in point. 

Despite Nigeria’s wobbly political leadership, the geopolitics of its strategic demography, location; and the significance of its economic, human and natural resources makes Nigeria an indispensable global partner in all ramifications. It is therefore important that the German government led by Olaf Scholz considers a retooling of its foreign policy on Africa with Nigeria as a great partner. Significantly, the paradox of the lopsided diplomacy that has existed between the two nations for more than 60 years now ought to give way for a more vibrant relationship that builds on the industrial advantages of Germany and Nigeria’s exceeding natural resources and economic fortunes. As the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration heads to its exit, the German government should restrategize its foreign policy, first by considering Nigeria as a dependable partner in its energy sector and as a key global player. 

And as Germany marks its National or Unity Day today, a democratic symbol of the unification of West and East Germany, there are many lessons Nigeria can learn from that great country. From unity, national consciousness, meritocracy, industrial revolution to leadership, there are more than one areas, Nigeria can tap from Germany. Also, as the 2023 presidential election draws near, Germany can assist Nigeria by pushing for sane and credible elections, with the protection of Nigerian citizens as the fulcrum of such intervention. Germany can also assist Nigeria by keeping a watch on the country’s wasteful elites who are the architects of Nigeria’s woes by banning those who rig elections or obstruct the democratic –  electoral processes from travelling to Germany for medical purposes or any other engagement. A vibrant diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Germany should begin with the latter supporting the consolidation of Africa’s biggest democracy and resetting its foreign policy, in which, the two continental giants are great partners in charting a new course for a great world. That cannot be fostered in a lopsided diplomacy, where Germany looks at authoritarian Kremlin and communist China, isolating Nigeria from the epicenter of its foreign policy. The new change should begin now with Olaf Scholz in the saddle, and after May, 2023. Happy National Day to Germany, 

Obi is a journalist and a Research Fellow at the Abuja School of Social and Political Thought, interested in media, elections, politics and democracy 

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