By Victoria Ojeme
Nigerian former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ignatius Olisemeka has condemned diplomatic events like the recent Russia-African summit saying they undermine the strategic importance of Africa in global politics.
Last week, over 50 African heads of states including President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and other 3,000 delegates attended the first-ever Russia-Africa summit in Sochi, Russia.
Olisemeka, who was Nigeria’s former ambassador to the United States was speaking at the maiden edition of the annual Foreign Policy Public Lecture by the Association of Retired Career Ambassadors of Nigeria (ARCAN) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja.
He said “Africa must discontinue holding undignified Summits such as: ‘Franco-Africa’, ‘Sino-Africa’, ‘Africa-Japan’, ‘Africa-Turkey’, ‘India-Africa’ rounds of meetings. Soon it would, with utmost respect, be ‘Iceland-Africa’ summit.”
“The idea of fifty-four (54) African Heads of State trooping, cap in hand, to meet with one European counterpart or Asian Head of State, undermines the strategic importance of Africa in global politics: and not by any means flattering to the image of the African continent and its leaders. Indeed it is disgustingly humiliating.”
Olisemeka is a career Nigerian diplomat. From 1976 to 1981 he was Ambassador to Madrid with concurrent accreditation to the Holy See. From 1984 to 1987 he was Ambassador to Washington D. C. and High Commissioner to Ottawa. From 1993 to 1998 he was Ambassador to Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile, former Head of State, General Abdulsalami who was chairman of the event called on the federal government to review Nigeria’s foreign policy to bring it at par with modern-day diplomatic realities.
The military general also called on Nigerians to work towards peaceful national co-existence.
General Abubakar urged the retired diplomats to sustain the momentum as the need arises on critical national issues, especially those of foreign policy.
The former head of state, who is also the Chairman of National Peace Committee said with accumulated experience and expertise of ARCAN, such intervention had become more imperative in the contemporary age of uncertainty and growing intolerance in internal relationship.
“I call on Nigerians to ensure that there is peace in the country because without peace, there wouldn’t be any ARCAN and without peace, there wouldn’t be progress,” Abubakar said.
According to him, the lecture is timely, considering these current times of uncertainty in global affairs.
Also speaking at the event, President of the association, Ambassador Oladapo Fafowora, said the decline in the quality of Nigeria’s Foreign Service and Foreign Policy made the lecture necessary in order to reset them and make them more effective.
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, was also in attendance among others.