By Chikodi Okereocha
The National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has called for greater involvement of the private sector in the articulation and implementation of Nigeria’s foreign policy as calls for review of Nigeria’s foreign policy gains traction.
Director General, National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Amb Ayoola Olukanni, made the call in Abuja at a conference on review of Nigeria’s foreign policy. The conference was jointly convened by the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Olukanni, who made his presentation from the perspective of the private sector, spoke on the topic “Economic Diplomacy and National Development: Effective Optimisation of Public-Private Partnerships.”
He averred that with the increasing role of the private sector in the Nigerian economy, the private sector should be regularly consulted in the articulation and implementation of the nation’s foreign policy.
Olukanni while saying that this should be done in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nigerian Missions abroad 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 in this regard.
He said this was to ensure that economic diplomacy and its new variant, the New Economic Diplomacy initiative (NEDi) as a component part of Nigeria’s foreign policy improves Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows to Nigeria and becomes more impactful on the nation’s economy.
In this regard, the NACCIMA boss 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.
He similarly called for measures to ensure that remittances from the Nigerian Diaspora impact the Nigerian economy and at subnational level. He suggested that serious consideration should be given to closer interaction between Chambers across the country and groups and members of Nigerian Diaspora.
On the issue of the need for review of Nigeria’s foreign policy, the DG observed that time was overdue for an all stakeholders’ national conference to review Nigeria’s foreign policy. This, he said, was to ensure adoption of strategic options in view of dramatic changes in the new world order.
He said such changes were brought about by developments in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and the global COVID-19 pandemic, which had consequences for the global economy and conduct of international relations.
Olukanni 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 another strategic conference to review foreign policy to reposition Nigeria as major player in the global economy as the world continues to witness dramatic changes in the global financial system and economic landscape with emergence of new key actors shaping the global economy.
He also spoke on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) agreement 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.
He said any foreign policy thrust should include a robust engagement that will promote the economy of the nation in which the private sector is expected to play a leading role.
He pointed out that 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 are already major players especially in several African countries. He drew attention to the thriving Nigeria’s digital private sector as reflected in the performance of several Nigerian Fintech companies.
He said all of these were indications of readiness of the Nigerian private sector to play key role in Nigeria’s economic diplomatic engagement.
Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rt Hon 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 (OPS) who’s input will be critical in any new foreign policy thrust especially in the area of Nigeria’s bilateral and multilateral economic relations.
Yakub assured that the various presentations at the Conference will be factored into next steps regarding review of the country’s foreign policy.
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