By Merit Ibe
Director General, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Ayoola Olukanni has stressed the need for improvement in security across the country to ensure confidence of foreign investors in the economy.
Ayoola, who spoke on the theme, “Economic Diplomacy and National Development: Effective Optimisation of Public-Private Partnerships” at a recent conference on review of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy, maintained that Nigeria was indeed a worthy investment destination.
He said with the increasing role of the private sector in the economy, the sector should be regularly consulted in the articulation of foreign policy and its implementation, adding that this should be done in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nigerian Missions abroad.
He however, assured stakeholders of the readiness of NACCIMA to continue to work closely with the National Assembly to ensure that economic diplomacy and the New Economic Diplomacy initiative(NEDi) as a component part of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy, improves Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows to Nigeria.
The conference was jointly convened by the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as calls for review of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy becomes louder.
Ayoola suggested that serious consideration should be given to closer interaction between Chambers across the country, groups and members of Nigerian Diaspora, adding that time was overdue for an all stakeholders National conference to review Nigeria’s Foreign Policy.
According to him, 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 CVID-19 Pandemic with consequences for the global economy and conduct of international relations.
He recalled 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, stressing that 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 to witness dramatic changes in the global financial system and economic landscape with emergence of new key actors shaping the global economy.
Notably the outcome document endorsed the recommendation and agreed that at regular interval of 5 years, there should be a review of Nigerian Foreign policy,” he said.
Speaking on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA ) the DG said it is an area that deserves close attention as the nation mulls which way to go, while it articulates a foreign policy posture and thrust with due attention to the economy. He was of the view that 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.
To him, 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.
According to him, Nigerian Banks and financial institutions are already major players especially in several African countries.
While speaking on the thriving Nigeria Digital Private Sector as reflected in performance of several Nigerian Fintech Companies, Ayoola said, all of these are indications of readiness of the Nigerian private sector to play key role in economic diplomatic engagement.
Also speaking, Chairman, 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 multilateral economic relations.
Yakub assured that the various presentations at the conference will be factored into next steps regarding review of the nation’s foreign policy.
The conference brought together members of the National Assembly, academia, members of the Armed Forces, representatives from the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, retired Ambassadors and other stakeholders. Comptroller General Immigration Service and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) also attended the Conference.