Experts have said that Nigeria can only consolidate its leadership status in the Sahel region when it begins to champion conversations around peace, security and stability to help fast-track economic growth for the continent.
The experts said that Nigeria has the capacity and will to inspire Africa to socio-economic greatness but is currently underperforming in that role.
The the Director-General, Office for Strategic Preparedness and Resilience, Chris Ngwodo, while speaking at an event to foster conversations on issues that are critical to Nigeria and its regional neighbours, said the country needs to review its foreign policies, pursue political integration and focus on the Sahel region.
Ngwodo who heads the federal government’s Early Warning Center noted that the country has to deliberately engage with events close to its borders and happenings in Sahel countries to provide the needed leadership.
Africa has always been the centrepiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy and this was predicated on the sovereignty and equality of all African states, eradication of colonialism, proactively supporting human rights, respect for the principle of non-interference and promoting friendships and mutual cooperation among independent African states.
While that concept may have been fit for-purpose in post-independence Africa, experts are however of the view that Nigeria faces new challenges on the domestic and international fronts, which call for fresh thinking, dynamism, foresight and innovative strategies to deal with same
Ngwodo explained that it was long overdue for Nigeria to resuscitate its Pan-African spirit which saw the country champion resistance against colonial activities in Africa and perform the big brother role of peacekeeping in troubled African nations.
Ngwodo said ‘‘Nigeria must come to terms with an opposing tendency within its foreign policy and disposition to the world, the continent and the region at large.
“Nigerians can be very insular; we tend to be indifferent to events happening around us or just beyond our borders, we are obsessed with our own internal problems and fixated with our struggle to forge coherence out of our diversity.’’