The Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, has said that Nigeria’s foreign policy must reflect the enviable feat that the country has attained in the entertainment industry and sports.
Osinbajo made this known in his keynote at the Maiden Annual Foreign Service Public Lecture organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Tuesday, in Abuja.
He said that the usage of sports and entertainment had become imperative, because the nation’s foreign policy needed to be relevant to modernity, to project Nigeria’s potentials and influence in the world.
“This is not as simple as it seems, because the world is changing in various ways, there is a changing landscape of challenges relating to migration, environment, health, technology across the globe.
“Criminal and non-state actors including, terrorist, cyber criminals, drug cartels have complicated security landscape that was once built on the mere notion of peace and security.
“Since the traditional responses to all of these issues no longer carry the assuredness of the past, countries, today, and our country, in particular, have to use a more novel variety of tools, including sports and entertainment, to advance our economic and diplomatic objective.
“In Nigeria, this will mean, perhaps, leveraging on entertainment, music and sport, where we have excelled. Our achievement in Nollywood and our achievement in sports, our achievement in entertainment can be useful ways of opening doors diplomatically and economically,” Osinbajo said.
He said that the foreign service had a role and duty to play to influence policies at home and to consistently nudge government to take necessary action to achieve target.
“This is especially critical at a time when record numbers of Nigerians are featuring in the tragic narratives of slave camps in North Africa and capsizing boats in the Mediterranean,” he said.
He noted that the newly-launched Economic Diplomacy Initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, would create a platform for Nigerian businesses to more easily find and exploit global markets
He said this would also help to tap the economic potential of the Nigerian diaspora – who tend to be some of the most educated and entrepreneurial populations wherever they are to be found.
The Vice-President said the dynamic nature of world progression had made socio-economic advancement of a nation more difficult, saying it required additional efforts for countries like Nigeria to attain such a great height amongst the comity of nations.
Earlier, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, stated that unlike the misconception in so many quarters of the relevance of foreign service, the missions have contributed greatly to the growth of the country.
He said the lecture was aimed at injecting new ideas that would assist the ministry in formulating policies that would make the country more attractive to foreign investors.
While noting that the country’s policy which was initially centered on Africa, has gradually shifted to economic and citizenship diplomacy, he said that this led has led country to facilitate the evacuation of its citizens facing inhuman conditions in Libya.
Onyeama however, lamented that although the country responded swiftly to the xenophobic attacks on its nationals in South Africa, when it joined the South Africa government to device the Early Warning Signal, the efforts were yet to pay off.
Also speaking, former head of state Yakubu Gowon, who was the chairman of the occasion, urged the Federal Government to always invest adequately in foreign policy initiatives to achieve meaningful goals.
“I believe in the importance and essence of Foreign Affairs, which is designed to build and project Nigeria’s good image,” he said.