Akinyemi: Nigeria in More Trouble than We Appreciate

•  Blames Buhari, Jonathan, Yar’Adua for Nigeria’s inactivity on global affairs 

Gboyega Akinsanmi

Former Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, has revealed that Nigeria is in more trouble than what the citizens of the country actually appreciate or know.

 Akinyemi also blamed the ill-health of President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Umaru Yar’Adua and lack of interest by former President Goodluck Jonathan for Nigeria’s silence on global affairs.

 He expressed the concern at the 2022 Distinguished Lecture of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) held in Victoria Island on Thursday.

 The lecture, titled “On the New World Order” and held at the NIIA Lecture Theatre, was attended by former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode; former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia (SAN), NIIA Director General, Prof. Eghosa Osagie and former Director-General of the institute, Prof. Bola Akinterinwa, among others.

 Delivering the lecture, Akinyemi said Nigeria “is in more trouble than we perhaps appreciate,” explaining that he had served on several committees dealing with security issues that supported his claim.

 He also said: “I have come across documents, which indicate that, the security problems such as Boko Haram, the so-called issues of kidnapping, banditry, clashes between Herdsmen and farmers have external manifestations.

 “I have interrogated villagers who have no interest in lying swearing by their local deities that they saw helicopters at night dropping weapons, food and supplies to some of these terrorists and taking off in the middle of the night.

 “As of that time, the Nigerian Air Force insisted that they were not involved, as they did not have helicopters with night capabilities. So, who are the forces that were involved in these night operations to distabilise or to even destroy Nigeria,” he said.

 While admitting that the night operations happened before the Buhari administration came into power, Akinyemi noted that it could not be billed fully to the present administration.

He, therefore, alleged that the present administration “has its share of the responsibility.”

 While reviewing the Nigerian factor of the new world order, the former minister emphasised the need for Africa to be present at the table where the design of the new world order would take place.

 He said: “We must admit that in the past 16 years, the voice of Nigeria on global affairs has been embarrassing and irritatingly silent.

 He reiterated the need for the federal government of the day to practise an inclusive form of governance and be more interested in its foreign affairs.

Akinyemi also emphasised the need for Africa to be present at the table where the design of the new world order would take place and where the African agenda will be autochthonous.

To achieve this, he observed that the role and status of Nigeria “cannot be overstated. This is a period that covered the administrations of Yar’Adua, Jonathan and Buhari.

“This has provided the opportunity for the marginalisation of Nigeria and the absence of a force to drive African role on global affairs. The reasons for the Nigerian silence are multiple.

“The first is the illnesses of Yar’Adua and Buhari. The second was the lack of interest in foreign affairs by Jonathan and Buhari,” he explained.

He, however, acknowledged that the silence of Nigeria on global affairs “goes beyond the illness of the past presidents and the lack of interest in foreign affairs by Jonathan and Buhari.”

Akinyemi explained international dimension to the challenge, citing how the Foreign Ministers of Brazil, Russia, India and China met in New York in September 2006 to lay the foundation of BRIC, which later became BRICS with the invitation to South Africa.

He said: “The Nigerian President at that time was General Olusegun Obasanjo. Why was the Foreign Minister of Nigeria not present at that meeting? This was during an administration that was active in global affairs.

“My suspicion is that we had a president at that time who usually was not interested in anything he could not lay claim to authorship. By the time that South Africa was invited to join in 2011, South Africa GDP was $375.3 billion while Nigeria was $361.5 billion.

“The difference of $14 billion was not sufficient to have explained the non-inclusion of Nigeria. By 2020, Nigerian GDP was $432.3 billion while that of South Africa was $301.9 billion.

“By 2022, Nigerian GDP is the first in Africa at $510.588 billion, Egypt is second with $435.621 billion and South Africa is third with $426.116 billion,” the former minister pointed out.

He lamented the global isolation of Nigeria at BRICS and G20 levels, which he argued, could be laid at the doors of the global community.

He said: “Even though fingers have been pointed at this administration as the most corrupt that Nigeria has ever had, what with 500,000barrels of crude oil stolen, what with secret pipelines to steal crude oil laid nine years ago which was just discovered by NNPC after it was pointed out to them by a non-state actor who had just won a security surveillance contract.

“What the Nigerian GDP would have been if the leakages on the executive and legislative levels have been substantially reduced is better imagined. The blame does not lay at the door of the Buhari administration alone.

“We have not had a corrupt free administration since 1979 except for the period of 1984-1985, during the first Buhari military administration. Now we are faced with three candidates running for the office of the President who lack integrity and credibility.

“Nigeria need not be worried unnecessarily by the priming up of South Africa. Turkey was not brooding when it was excluded from BRICS. She simply hunkered down and built up its industrial capacity. Now, Turkey is a powerhouse in Europe that can call the shots when and where she wants,” he explained.

Akinyemi challenged the federal government “to clean up her act. She needs to become a less corrupt country. Nigeria needs to practice an inclusive form of governance and not a patently form of governance that emphasises incompetence, square pegs in round holes, and turns Nigeria into the exclusive property of one nationality thus breeding secessionist agitation. This state will not help Nigeria achieve its manifest destiny in the world.”

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