Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture says given the increasing role of the private in Nigerian economy, the sector should be regularly consulted in the articulation of the nation’s foreign policy and its implementation.
The Director-General of NACCIMA, Ambassador Ayoola Olukanni said this at a recent conference on the review of Nigeria’s foreign policy.
It was held in Abuja from 19-21 April 2021, was jointly convened by the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This came as calls for review of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy became louder.
The DG made his presentation from the perspectives of the private sector and spoke on the topic, ‘Economic Diplomacy and National Development: Effective optimisation of public-orivate partnerships.’
He said, “With the increasing role of the private sector in the Nigerian economy, the private sector should be regularly consulted in the articulation of our foreign policy and its implementation.
“This should be done in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nigerian missions abroad.”
He equally assured stakeholders at the Conference of the readiness of NACCIMA, as the premier National Chambers of Commerce with members across the country, to continue to work closely with the National Assembly to ensure that Economic Diplomacy and its new variant, the New Economic Diplomacy initiative as a component part of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy.
He noted this would improve Foreign Direct Investment flow into Nigeria and and ensured more impact on the nation’s economy.
In this regard, he called for significant improvement in security across the country to ensure confidence of foreign investors in the Nigerian economy and that Nigeria was indeed a worthy investment destination.
Olukanni similarly called for measures to ensure impact of remittances from the Nigerian Diaspora on the Nigerian economy and at subnational level.
In this regard, the NACCIMA DG suggested that serious consideration should be given to closer interaction between Chambers across the country, groups and members of Nigerian Diaspora.
On the issue of the need for review of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy, Olukanni observed that time was overdue for an all- stakeholders national conference to review Nigeria’s foreign policy.
He said, “This is to ensure adoption of strategic options in view of dramatic changes in the new world order brought about by dramatic developments in the ICT and global Covid-19 pandemic with consequences for the global economy and conduct of international relations.”
He drew attention to the fact that the last time a similar Foreign Policy Review Conference took place was 35 years ago at the All Nigeria Foreign Policy Review Conference held at NIPSS in April 1986 at NIPSS Kuru.
He said there was now an urgent need for ‘Kuru 2.’
“This is to review our Foreign policy to reposition Nigeria as major player in the global economy as the world continues witness dramatic changes in the global financial system and economic landscape with emergence of new key actors shaping the global economy,” he added.
The DG also spoke on the AFCFTA as an area “that deserves close attention as the nation mulls which way to go as it articulates a foreign policy posture and thrust with due attention to the economy.”
Olukanni noted that any foreign policy thrust that include a robust engagement “will promote the economy of the nation in which the private sector is expected to play a leading role.”
He said already several Nigerian conglomerates “have emerged as key players in some African countries and their products such as cement and other fast moving consumer goods dominate the market of those countries.”
He also spoke of Nigerian banks and financial institutions that were already major players especially in several African countries.
NACCIMA DG drew attention to the thriving Nigeria Digital Private Sector as reflected in performance of several Nigerian Fintech companies, adding “all of these are indications of readiness of the Nigerian private sector to play key role in Nigeria’s Economic Diplomatic engagement.”
In its comments, the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Buba Yakub expressed appreciation to stakeholders who participated in the meeting and especially to NACCIMA as a leading member of the Organised Private sector “whose input will be critical in any new Foreign Policy thrust especially in the area of Nigeria’s bilateral and multi-lateral economic relations.”
He assured that the various presentations at the conference “will be factored into next steps regarding review of our Foreign policy.”