By Osuolale Akande
Charles Darwin, the famous biologist once opined that it is neither the strongest of the species nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change that survives and progresses. To effect change, there has always been one key element that has served as the main ingredient from the mediaeval era through the industrial age to this new age of enlightenment, and that is innovation. In other to innovate, there must be a willingness to borrow, adapt, combine, remove, or even use critical criticism to one’s advantage. The past should be appraised, the future properly gauged, and the environment well scrutinised to create a sustainable pathway. That is what different entities around the world from private to public often refer to as a strategic plan.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s quest to add verve to Nigeria’s diplomatic standing in the comity of nations was recently enumerated by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador Maitama Tuggar at a gathering with esteemed scholars and seasoned diplomats. He made it clear that the Tinubu Administration is committed to producing intended effects and is focused on causality thinking with this new diplomatic policy, while the policy will not be revolutionary by breaking away from the past, it tends to seek innovative ways to generate revolutionary effects from the elements that are already enshrined in our constitution as stated in Section 19 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Renewed Hope Agenda that catalogued President Bola Tinubu’s promises to Nigerians during the Presidential campaign is wrapped around three key foreign policy objectives that were stated in the constitution: to protect against all forms of external aggression; promote the best possible outcomes for Nigeria in all engagements with other nations; improve Nigeria’s standing and dignity among the comity of Nations.
Where some were looking for a revolution that will never come, this administration has decided that it will rather innovate by examining the past to extrapolate what will be beneficial to the future, scan through the environment to borrow what has made other nations stand tall, reappraise constructive criticism to profit from its core value and summon the courage to try out new ideas. This will allow the nation to tread a sustainable path that will be beneficial to Nigerians, most of them youth who need to be gainfully employed. By creating 4 pillars on which the foreign policy of the nation will sit, the Renewed Hope agenda is not trying to recreate the wheel but seeking to modify it in such a way that the nation’s foreign policy will be suitably adapted for our present and future interests. Democracy, Development, Demography, and Diaspora as a part of a doctrine should not be seen as mere sloganeering–as purportedly asserted by others in the media. This was the first plea of the Honourable Minister in the speech he gave to the members of staff of foreign affairs recently.
In being strategically autonomous, the country is not shifting from the policy of non-alignment that has been its cornerstone for over 60 years, rather it is proposing to use it as a pedestal on which to ensure global peace and stability in these uncertain times that multi-polarity has thrust upon us. What the administration has set out as part of the objective of its foreign policy is primarily to “assert Nigeria’s position as a leader in Africa, enhance her influence globally, maximise opportunities through strategic autonomy, drive major multilateral reforms, and foster improved national security, trade, and investment”.
In the multi-plural society in which we have now found ourselves, the different superpowers are in constant competition, resulting in constant turmoil and upheaval. Nigeria as a regional power needs to walk the tightrope like a skilled gymnast in other to maintain its position among the committee of nations lest he tumble and fall into the abyss. Therefore, pushing for Democracy and its tenements in the face of coups and counter-coups on its doorstep is not only a route to self-preservation for Nigeria but also an attempt to foreclose future unwarranted expenses that may go towards peace-keeping expenditure when the chickens finally come home to roost and there is no better way to do this than ensure that the tenement of Democracy, as explain in the 4-D policy paper, is adhere to strictly. Nigeria’s security, economic development, and territorial integrity are still reeling from the effect of small arms that rolled in from the Sahel after the demise of Ghaddafi therefore we will need effective guardrails to protect our nation.
A tiny fraction of our intellectual community is urging the current government to concentrate on domestic policy that will improve leadership, reduce the rate of corruption, and have a high level of rule of law while it meanders through the political landmines being strewn around the region and continent by stronger powers is instructive. However, the Tinubu administration has pre-empted this by seeking to use the developmental aspect of the 4-D of the policy as a fulcrum on which security, trade, and investment will be made to create a conducive environment to rekindle the local economy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ effort to increase FDI has now been shifted to the front burner and the capacity of our foreign missions to pull investment and push trade is being sharpened further.
Nigeria’s population is presently estimated to be at 213 million, the highest in Africa, and is projected to reach 377 million by the year 2050, making it the third most populous nation on the planet (World Bank) [a]. More than half of this population is under the age of 30 years forming a formidable active workforce, as well as a significant regional market hub and consumption base if well harnessed (United Nations Population Fund – UNFPA). Nigeria needs to take full advantage of this Demographic set, these youthful human resources need to be developed for them to drive the nation’s economic growth, increase the pace of industrialisation, and probably contribute to manpower export in a way that will be advantageous to the nation and not a hindrance.
Putting the Diaspora communities on the front burner to further explore their capacity to increase inflow is important, with a remittance of US$20 billion into the country in 2022, an amount that is four times the value of Nigeria’s total FDI inflows for that year, the Foreign Affairs Ministry under Ambassador Maitama Tuggar understand that remittance has become one of the main arteries on which the heart of this country relies on. The fact that the remittance outstrips oil revenue (World Bank; NIDCOM) in the same year, even though a significant percentage of remittances passed through informal means makes it as important as crude oil in our political discourse.
Attempts to dismiss the 4-D policy that is termed “Tinubu’s Doctrine’ as a slogan and a mimic of either Monroe or Truman’s Doctrine is not only laughable but unwarranted, intellectuals have always ascribed doctrine to mean “a stated principle of government policy, mainly in foreign or military affairs”. From the First Council in Nicaea in AD 325, where the Roman emperor Constantine called Christian bishops to consolidate the teachings of Christianity into uniform Christian doctrine, called the Nicene Creed, the use of the word, the doctrine has moved from the church to the military and lately into the corporate and political field but, its meaning hasn’t changed a bit, as amplified by its Latin origin: ‘doctrina’, meaning “teaching, instruction”.
Doctrine the apex from which strategy(s) seek to direct policy actualization is a codification of belief, therefore this doctrinal document tagged “Tinubu Doctrine” is a codification of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s belief on how Foreign Affairs should be used to help him achieved his objective of the broader Renewed Hope Agenda is not different. This doctrine is part of a larger elephant, it’s the trunk that goes forth ahead of other parts, the functionality of the other parts is as essential and will not be left in abeyance if proper care is taken to take a longer look, at the other parts will soon show themselves, probably as creeds and not doctrines in other to reduce the propensity of been term mimics as well.