Morocco’s application to ECOWAS, not in Nigeria’s interest- Fafowora

Adoba Echono, Abuja


Nigerian Government has been advised not to support Morocco’s bid to join ECOWAS.

The National President of the Association of Retired Career Ambassadors of Nigeria (ARCAN), Ambassador Oladapo Fafowora, who stated this in his lecture delivered at the first Annual Foreign Service Public Lecture in Abuja added that the proposed membership was not in the national interest.

Ambassador Fafowora, a former Nigerian Deputy Permanent Representative in the UN, New York, said that Morocco was seeking entry into an enlarged market in ECOWAS for its industrial exports most of which would come from the EU particularly France.

He described the Morocco membership’s application as one major foreign policy confronting the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

“One major foreign policy problem now confronting the Buhari’s administration is the complication caused by Morocco’s application to join ECOWAS, there is strong opposition in the country to Morocco’s application as it lacks merit, according Ambassador Fafowora.”

“All major stakeholders in our foreign relations including Association of Retired Career Ambassadors of Nigeria have conveyed to the Buhari’s administration their strong and determined opposition to the move.”

“But it appears there are some powerful voices in the presidency, not the foreign Ministry, who, for personal reasons want Morocco in.”

According to Ambassador Fafowora this is clear indication of divided control of our foreign policy, the foreign Ministry is presumed to have primary responsibility for advising the government on our foreign policy.

“In a presidential system of government such as ours the presidency becomes the major source of advice on our foreign policy.”

“We have seen this trend in the case of Morocco’s application to join ECOWAS and the government’s foot dragging on the matter, this is not in our national interest’’, explained Ambassador Fafowora.

“We in ARCAN will continue to oppose the application of Morocco for full membership of the organisation as it lacks any merit,” he said.

According to him, Morocco membership’s application is not in Nigeria’s political or economic interest.

He was of the opinion that Morocco, if admitted would force the agenda of the EU into the throat of the organisation which he said was detriment to the economic growth of the region.

Ambassador Fafowora explains that Morocco is seeking entry into an enlarged market in ECOWAS for its industrial exports most of which will come from the EU particularly France.

In his remarks at the event, the Chairman of the lecture, General Yakubu Gowon recounted that during the military era, foreign policy formulation was squarely in the hands of the Head of State and government, adding that he had to delegate the duty later in his nine years of administration, and appointed a civilian Minister of Foreign Affairs to take care of the foreign desk so as to spare some time for governance.

He mentioned that during his regime, Nigeria was at the heart of Africa’s Foreign Policy.

He also pointed out that Nigeria’s foreign policy must be adequately funded and government must provide all the assistance needed by the Ministry to enable them do their job both at home and abroad.

In his remarks, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama said that since 1957 when the Foreign Ministry was created, it has distinguished itself in the formulation of foreign policies which has been implemented by various governments.

Mr. Onyeama noted that economic and citizens’ diplomacy was formulated to give good deliverables for the country although some of the benefits are intangible.

He pointed out that once the foreign policy objectives are spelt out; the Ministry would put in place everything to ensure its implementation across the 109 missions and in consonance with the fast moving needs of the world.

Mr. Onyeama noted that economic diplomacy is in line with Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and meant to grow the economy both locally and internationally.

The minister called for more funding of the Ministry so as to raise its foreign policy trust.

He said that the many successes of the ministry has been enmeshed due to paucity of funds, noting that the Ministry has raised professionals and leaders in international arena and decision making platforms where they project the nations image.

Mr. Onyeama reported that the Ministry has been able to wade into the slave market in Libya and has repatriated many Nigerians trapped in Libya just as it intervened in the xenophobic attack in South Africa where an early warning signal were worked out although, according to him, it has not yielded the desired result.

On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Olakunle Akindele Bamgbose in his speech said the Nigerian ministry as the custodian of the nation’s foreign policy sets the tone for international interaction while preserving its mandate although he pointed out that its implementation has been very slow.

The lecture was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the emerging issues on Nigerian foreign policy.