Emir Sanusi urges reform of Nigeria’s foreign service

Emir of Kano, Sanusi was former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria


Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has called for the reform of Nigeria’s Foreign Service to ensure effective application of Nigeria Foreign Policies, stating that the Foreign Policies also needed to be reviewed.

Sanusi made the call on Tuesday in Abuja during the launch of the maiden Foreign Policy Journal by the Association of Retired Career Ambassadors of Nigeria (ARCAN).

According to him, some of the challenges facing the foreign service includes incoherence in Nigeria’s foreign policy, appointments of politicians as ambassadors rather than career foreign service officers.

He said that these amongst others were the challenges and battles facing the foreign service since the 1970’s that were yet to be resolved.

Sanusi said that one of the ways of addressing these challenges was for Public Servants to stand up to what was right and avoid being used by some selfish politicians.

“These battles are still with us many years after, they are relevant and fundamental issues and I still think that this community has the responsibility of carrying on with these battles.

“The first battle I met my father fighting as permanent secretary was to protect the jobs of foreign service officers who were supposed to be sacked as part of the purge of the Murtala/Obasanjo’s administration.

“If public servants stand up for the right thing, things can work in this country, if every other permanent secretary has stood up to the military and say we will not let people go who have not done anything wrong, they will not be treated as puppets.

“As a nation, we often blame politicians, we often blame people in political office but the truth is, the things that happen in this country only happens because everyone that has been put as a check and balance decides to compromise.

“And one of the greatest battles we have to fight now is the battle for the rediscovery of institutions and for professionals and civil servants to stand up and do the right thing because they are supposed to be there to guide the government.

“The second battle is that he inherited a ministry that is filled with politicians as ambassadors and before he left as permanent secretary, every ambassador was a career diplomat.

“He said we cannot have a foreign policy that is of the liberation of Africa and have it run by politicians.

“The reality is that the best insurance you have for being well represented abroad is to take people whom you have trained for years to represent you. This is something we are all silent about.

“Third was his insistence for the need of coherence in our foreign policy,”  sanusi said.

Sanusi said  there was need for Nigeria’s foreign policy to be clearly defined as a policy that targeted  the reversal of these inequalities and improvement in economical welfare of the country.

He disclosed that based on the world bank review, an article revealed that in 10 years, Nigeria would  be home to over 25 per cent of poor people in the world if things continued the way they were.

The Emir explained that in some states , over 90 per cent of the people were in poverty and this was poverty that translated  into low per capital income, malnutrition, not finishing school.

Sanusi said  it was important for Nigerians to know what  Nigeria’s  foreign policy contained, stating that it had not been well communicated to the populace.

He said that in 1970’s, it was made very clear and everybody understood that the foreign policy in Nigeria was about the decolonalisation of Africa, to get rid of apartheid, liberate Angola.

Sanusi also said that it was important for the domestic policies to be set straight because for the foreign policy to work, the domestic policies had to be effective and functional.

He said that in restoring Nigeria’s past glory, there was need for fixing the physical position of government and reducing Nigeria’s dependence on debt, explaining that Nigeria’s vulnerability to creditors was critical for our Foreign policy.

“If you go to China to borrow money for infrastructure, you cannot at the same time confront China for dumping subsidised textile products that have destroyed your textile market,” sanusi said. (NAN)