Makinwa: Though early, the administration has taken off well internationally
Mr. Bunmi Makinwa is former regional director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). In this interview with KAMAL TAYO OROPO he assessed the commitment shown by President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration on the international front.
After one year in office, what do you make of the Buhari-led administration’s effort at international engagements?
The Buhari administration has set the right tone on the international scene. It has engaged actively in key international issues. It has been present at key international fora. And represented often in person by the President. This highest-level representation signifies engagement, commitment and decision-making presence.
Besides, the world takes Nigeria’s leadership seriously than it did in the past few years. Though, it is still early days yet, but the engagement and commitment shown by the country in the last one year has begun to yield results. The stronger Nigeria is economically and politically at home, the more it can get returns abroad on its engagement.
But has the effort translated to any significant domestic gain?
Let us face it, the successes recorded against Boko Haram terrorists, which at a point held significant portion of land in the country, could not have come without international support –– both from neighbouring countries and from military powers outside of the African continent.
On the other hand, some have raised serious concerns over the state and effectiveness of Nigeria’s missions abroad. What’s your take? What should the government be doing in coming days?
The concerns regarding Nigerian missions is real. Very real, if I must add. Whilst there are some good ones, the stories and experience from people are of dismal performance. It has been like that for a long time.
Truth is that one cannot separate the missions from the domestic governance structure of the country. A branch is part of a tree. The problems of the missions are largely reflective of the corporate body politic. As governance improves direct interventions are required to change the sectors. Our missions are the faces of the country to the outside world and therefore, require even more urgent and serious re-make. It starts from the home ministry, quality and standards set, resources and appointments, performance and rewards system, among many changes that should be made.
In view of current economic challenges, don’t you think some of these missions can be streamlined?
That is too much to say. However, it will depend on the policy objectives. It requires serious review, analysis and setting goals before a decision can be made.
What would you describe as the highpoint of this administration’s first-year internationally?
The effort to stop or reduce corruption by this administration is highly commendable. It has ramifications for everything that the government does. The entire credibility and reputation of the country was going downhill and can only be revived if corruption is reduced.
Besides, a lot of savings and funds can be directed to building the country. This is very crucial.
I would repeat what I stated earlier. If you are looking for a singular moment, I do not have one. It is not impossible, but it is rare that a singular moment defines a government in its policy direction.
Is the government going about recovering stolen money stashed abroad as expected?
I really do not have insight on how this is being done. It is a very complicated business and requires lots of expertise. The problem really is that countries that keep stolen monies are not keen to return them. There are many obstacles that have to be overcome and managed to recover stolen monies.
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