The inaugural speech of President Muhammadu Buhari has generated many reactions particularly at the domestic environment. These reactions bother on issues which some analysts have termed-shallow, noting that the speech did not give comprehensive direction on key issues which the administration hoped to address. While some others have argued that the President was only being skillful not to be caught in the web of critics thereby keeping citizens in the unknown.
Notwithstanding, the speech has also exposed us to the fact that Nigeria’s foreign policy will be conducted through multilateral approach; with no clear allegiance to any of the blocs- East or West. This can be inferred from what he demonstrated in his speech as; I belong to everyone and I belong to nobody. This policy thrust, though may sound new, it is only an affirmation of the fact that Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives have been consistent despite changes in leadership.
Apparently, scrutinizing the inaugural speech which was anchored on the campaign manifesto, three issues form the cardinal points of President Buhari administration; security, economy and corruption. These issues no doubt will play significant role in the conduct of Nigeria’s foreign policy within the next few years. This is so, because they are the issues which act as major concerns for every Nigerian. It should be noted that a nation’s participation in international affairs is first and foremost determined by its domestic character, that is, the unique combination of its geographical, historical, political, economic and social circumstances which are the pillars its strategic national interest.
Furthermore, the President raised fundamental issues of global concern as part of his foreign policy agenda. In his remark, he pointed out that his administration will be committed to combat threats of cross-border terrorism, sea piracy, refugees and boat people, financial crime, cyber crime, climate change, the spread of communicable diseases and other challenges of the 21st century. These are the core issues in international politics of today, and Nigeria as a global player is not isolated from them therefore becomes part of the campaign.
Perhaps, these are some of the key issues confronting Nigeria at the domestic front as its struggle to set itself on development path. These challenges the administration has also identified as insecurity, pervasive corruption, the hitherto unending and seemingly impossible fuel and power shortages are the immediate concerns.
However, as can be observed from the body-politic of the President, it can be pointed that his policies maybe somewhat favourable to the West. This can be seen from his recent visits. Corollary to this is the invitation to the G7 Summit immediately after his election with juicy promises but Nigeria must be careful not to mortgage its future with this invitation. The new leadership should take a leaf from the immediate past administration which committed itself to the West at the expense of other strategic partners such as the BRICS states which are emerging powers. That neglect was a costly mistake the administration made and it was one reason it failed in achieving its programmes when the West turned their back on him. And when it attempted to redirect its agenda, it was too late.
Conclusively, the challenges confronting Nigeria are multidimensional and they require multidimensional solutions. Therefore, President Buhari must practicalize multilateralism in conducting Nigeria’s diplomacy. That is when Nigeria and its interests can be valued and respected. And that is when Nigeria will able to forge strong position and articulate views consistent with its national interests.