Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, on Friday gave an insight into a likely makeup of his foreign policy when he questioned the brotherly role Nigeria has adopted since independence in Africa as centrepieces of Nigeria’s foreign policy.
The president’s approach, which foreign policy experts have called realism in the face of numerous challenges confronting the country, most of which are from Africa, is putting Nigeria first.
Speaking while meeting with the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria, NCTRN, at Aso Rock, Tinubu frowned at pacifying other African countries especially the contiguous states which he referred to as “neighbours” against Nigeria’s national interest.
The president was speaking against the backdrop of emerging reports of citizens across neighbouring countries that questioned his removal of fuel subsidy.
Videos of some Cameroonians circulated soon after Tinubu announced subsidy removal where they criticised the new Nigerian government lamenting that the high cost of premium motor spirit in Nigeria has also made the product unaffordable to them.
In some videos seen by THE WHISTLER, some bike riders converged at a location close to the Nigerian border with Cameroon in a protest manner where they issued a statement decrying the new petroleum policy in Nigeria.
For a long time, there have been reports of deliberate sabotage by Nigerian petroleum marketers who export imported petroleum products to other African countries where the product is expensive in order to make extra profits.
The poorly manned land routes to Cameroon, Niger and Chad have reportedly been mentioned as providing the access for illegal export.
Yet despite agelong practice of putting Africa first in her foreign policy which has often been pragmatic, Tinubu’s statement on Friday attempts a complete negation of the policy.
Nigeria had during the government of former Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, adopted the policy during his addresses of August and October 1, 1960, where he declared Africa as the centrepiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy.
This policy thrust has remained a constant variable in the country’s diplomatic engagements over the years.
Although the country attempted to take a step backwards during the cold war when it joined other countries to form a Non-Aligned Movement, her direct involvement in the decolonisation process across Africa compromised her position.
The country has over the years pursued this Africa as its centrepiece vigorously and robustly despite both internal challenges especially from the contiguous states.
Tinubu realised this on Friday noting that, before the traditional rulers, “I am grateful that you are paying attention to what I have been doing.
“You have paid attention to the subsidy removal. Why should we in good heart and sense, feed smugglers and be Father Christmas to neighbouring countries, even though they say not everyday is Christmas?
“The elephant that was going to bring Nigeria to its knees is the subsidy. A country that cannot pay salaries and we say we have potential to encourage ourselves,” Abiodun Oladunjoye, the villa’s Director of Information, quoted the president as saying.
Tinubu added; “I think we did the right thing.”
He assured the traditional rulers that, “We are all ears. We are ready to listen at any given time. I promise you an open-door policy and that is the way I will go. That open-door policy is for you to call me and send to me at any given time any concern that you might have.
“We may not have it right 100 percent of the time but we must get it right 90 percent of the time for this country.”