Babafemi Badejo, sloganeering, and Nigeria’s foreign policy: a riposte, By Paul Liam

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Reading Time: 6 mins read

The criticism of government policies and actions is invaluable in any democratic setting; it not only strengthens democracy and good governance but also fosters accountability and citizens’ engagement, thereby furthering inclusivity in the governance processes. Democracy as a system of governance is premised on the principles of freedom of expression, choice, and association, which distinguishes it from military regimes or autocratic leadership, which alienates the fundamental human rights of citizens and their exclusion from participating in the governance of their country.

Nigeria, since 1999, has enjoyed stable democratic governance with the full participation of its citizens, who continue to play active roles in further entrenching democratic culture in the country. It is on this premise that Babafemi A. Badejo’s criticism of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ 4Ds Policy, also known as the “Tinubu Doctrine”, achieves its agency. However, what is undemocratic in this instance is the manipulation of facts to misguide the public into holding erroneous assumptions about the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, and Nigeria’s foreign policy under the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Thus, this rejoinder exercises the right to reply with the sole purpose of clarifying the erroneous suppositions being peddled by Badejo as contained in his article titled “Towards Utmost Freedom and Less of Sloganeering on Nigeria’s Foreign Policy in 2024.”

 

Badejo’s article is unpretentious about its intent to discredit the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the 4Ds foreign policy of the Tinubu administration. His undemocratic agenda – and it is undemocratic to malign anyone without a justifiable cause – betrays itself in the second paragraph of the article, which renders a scathing commentary on the 4Ds policy by not only likening it to the “Monroe doctrine of 1843” and the “Truman Doctrine” but by suggesting outright that it is a product of the imitation of ‘American presidents of yore.” He posits that ‘The “Tinubu Doctrine” appears to want to mimic some American presidents of yore whose speeches were catapulted into the status of doctrines.’ The implications of this representation are twofold: first, it suggests a lack of ingenuity and innovation on the part of those who conceived the ‘Tinubu Doctrine,’ as alluded to by the mimicking of old American presidents.

Second, it presupposes that the ‘Tinubu Doctrine’ is archaic and not in tune with modern realities, hence the allusion to 19th-century American foreign policy, which historically was conceived as an adversarial approach to repel European powers in America. He further questions whether ‘the 4Ds has a doctrinaire status for it to be tagged the “Tinubu Doctrine”.’ This invariably implies that the ‘Tinubu Doctrine’ presumes to have ‘doctrine status’, which implicitly translates to a foreign policy that disregards practical consideration, for that is what the word ‘doctrinaire’ means in the ordinary sense.

 

The foregoing explanation highlights Badejo’s derisive intent cleverly woven into an unfounded hypothesis. Of course, its overriding consequence is to discredit the philosophy behind the ‘Tinubu Doctrine’ without overtly discrediting it. But he ends up exposing his clandestine agenda when he posits that “There is yet to be made available a strategic document on the 4Ds indicating specific goal(s) and an implementation plan. Nonetheless, we can meanwhile accept the 4Ds as indicative objectives that would guide the PBAT foreign policy stance.”

Any discerning reader will easily read between the lines, the undemocratic demonstration of wit by Badejo. After questioning the credibility of the 4Ds policy, he goes on to say that there is no strategic document or implementation with which to measure the exigencies of the policy. One might be tempted to ask what the basis of his initial hypothesis is if there is no premise for evaluating the purposefulness of the policy. 

Badejo’s insinuation is disconnected from reality, given the strategic and inclusive stakeholders’ engagement deployed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to evolve a strategic document designed to facilitate the actualisation of the 4Ds policy. In October 2023, the Ministry, under the leadership of Ambassador Tuggar, organised a policy retreat that brought together stakeholders to review and set the agenda for the implementation of Nigeria’s foreign policy. Several media platforms in the country published a press release reflecting on the outcomes of the retreat. For example, the Vanguard newspaper, in a report titled “Foreign Affairs Minister, Stakeholders, set 4-year Vision to Reposition Ministry” on 25 October, 2023, states, 

 

“The Minister, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar, to achieve the renewed hope agenda of President Bola Tinubu’s administration, declared the ministry’s strategic vision and operations would be driven by the 4D foreign policy strategy which is hinged on Democracy, Development, Demography and Diaspora as pillars for the actualization of sustainable development. These strategies were reviewed and articulated during a policy retreat organized by the ministry recently in Abuja.”

 

It is also important to note that the ministry has developed a comprehensive strategic document detailing its priorities, goals, and objectives, known as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Priority Document 2024-2027. The Minister highlighted this in his lecture when he stated the main objectives driving the implementation of the foreign policy, which include: “to protect against all forms of external aggression; promote the best possible outcomes for Nigeria in all engagements with other nations; improve Nigeria’s standing and dignity among the comity of Nations.” Tuggar furt,her stated that these objectives are in Nigeria’s overriding foreign policy thrust enshrined in the Constitution which include: “to promote and protect Nigeria’s national interest, to promote African integration and support African unity, promote international co-operation for the consolidation of universal peace and mutual respect among all nations and elimination of discrimination in all its manifestations.”

 

Badejo equally undermines the intellect of the Minister by positing that “The Minister scantily spoke about each of the terms at the ARCAN meeting. On democracy, the Minister gave the vague impression to Professor Vremudiah Diejomaoh during questions and answers that democracy represents peace and stability, hence is superior to development. Professor Diejomaoh had rightly argued that Nigeria needed to prioritise development over that vague notion of democracy.” It is befuddling how Badejo arrived at such a scandalous conclusion regarding the Minister by describing his responses as a ‘vague impression’, whereas the Minister delivered a full lecture in which he highlighted in impressive detail the crux of the 4Ds policy.

Each of the four pillars has at least two to four paragraphs explicating their imports for Nigeria’s foreign policy drive. There is no gain in saying that Badejo set out to ridicule not just the leadership acumen but intellect of the Minister, who is not just a student of international relations and diplomacy but a one-time Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, with a track record of achievements, and a former member of the Federal House of Representatives, who played active roles in shaping Nigerian policy direction over the years.

 

In another instance, Badejo queries, “Was our failed foray into the Niger Republic a doctrinaire position that Nigeria would intervene in any unconstitutional change of power, bearing in mind the fact that electing a civilian authority is not tantamount to having a democracy? More importantly, what are the instruments in our arsenal towards the achievement of the 4Ds? My intention in this piece is not to question nor fill in the gaps on a work in progress.”

 

Badejo deliberately feigned ignorance of the fact that it was ECOWAS, and not Nigeria, that threatened military intervention into the Niger Republic at the outset of the Niger coup, by which time President Tinubu had not even appointed his cabinet members. Is it not strange, therefore, that Badejo is desperate to link ECOWAS’ threats of military intervention into Niger with the ‘Tinubu Doctrine’ as a way of undermining the Minister? He also disagrees with ECOWAS’ push for a return to democratic rule, saying that “…electing a civilian authority is not tantamount to having a democracy.” What is more ironic is the fact that within the same breath, he questions Nigeria’s capacity to achieve the 4Ds, and in another breath, he declares that his “intention is not to question or fill in the gaps on a work in progress.” Yet he does the direct opposite of what he says he did not set out to do. To crown his delusionary undemocratic pretences, he exposes his true intent by postulating that “it is important to note that the 4Ds is not as revolutionary as it is being posited in the media. It is a slogan to catch attention on objectives of Nigeria’s foreign policy.” The incoherence in Badejo’s hypothesis beggars belief. The self-contradiction is puzzling, especially coming from a man of his academic standing.

 

The Minister is not oblivious to Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives as encapsulated in the Constitution. He has stressed several times in his speeches that the foreign policy objectives contained in the Nigerian Constitution provide the basis for any worthwhile strategies adopted for implementation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or any administration for that matter. He equally noted these objectives in his lecture as the guiding principles of the 4Ds policy, which he enumerated. Therefore, to suggest that the Minister is oblivious to this knowledge is to pretend that a mother does not know who the father of her child is.

 

In a single article, Badejo has demonstrated an uncommon disregard for the Minister and all those whose input formed the evolution of the 4Ds policy without recourse to the exigency that gave birth to it. It suffices to say that his entire tirade is based on vacant suppositions that have no substance. The conflict of perception outweighs the sense of logic that informed the article. It is safe to say that his mind was muddled up while writing the diatribe in the guise of a quest for “utmost freedom”, a term whose relevancy in the article only emerges at the tail end of the charade after exhausting his energy in deriding the Minister and the 4Ds policy unabashedly. What manner of wisdom or knowledge could come from a mind so dubious and inchoate? Perhaps Professor Badejo has forgotten the practical details of crafting a well-rounded article that serves the public good. Intellectual infantilism is a misnomer that should not be associated with a well-read academic and diplomat of Badejo’s standing.             

 

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