Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Nigeria’s former Minister of External Affairs, has said that President Tinubu should start putting things in place for Nigeria to be sponsored and granted permanent membership in the G20 group of countries.
In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Monday, Professor Akinyemi spoke on the announcement of the G20 welcoming the AU as a permanent member during its summit, which was held between the 9th and 10th of September in New Delhi, and the benefits that this will bring to Africa at large.
Akinyemi, however, said that the reason that Nigeria is not a member of the G20 is because of “bad leadership that has driven our economy to the ground,” and that President Tinubu and Nigerians were paying the price for the bad leadership in the past.
However, he said that Tinubu is now in a position where he can “maximise on the goodwill of the international community,” as the new President of the G20 is Brazil, who has good relations with Nigeria. He also said that Tinubu could continue to grow diplomatic relations with other countries.
Akinyemi then said, “Therefore, President Tinubu should set up a task force whose objective will be that by the next summit, Nigeria will actually be sponsored for permanent membership of the G20.”
He then advised Tinubu to focus on internal development and the growth of the economy and other resources, saying that “you cannot clap with an empty hand.”
He also advised that Nigerians should stop demarketing the country, saying, “We also now have our own part to play and that is to stop demarketing Nigeria because irrespective of what government does, if we the people have no faith in our own country, in our own government, it will backfire.”
In the meantime, Akinyemi said that for Nigeria to reap the benefits of this platform that was given to Africa, officials in the country should run for positions in the AU. He said, “We should go, and we should go into fighting for any post that is free that we feel will be in our national interest. We should go and contest for that post. When we do so, then we will now be in the leadership of institutions in the African Union. That way, whatever it is that the African Union is pushing in the G20, or any other international organization, will not be detrimental to the interest of Nigeria.”
Speaking of his expectation of the AU in the G20, Akinyemi said, “I should expect that the African Union should be pushing the policies of the African Ex-Im Bank, the policies of the African Development Bank, the African Free Trade Agreement, all those institutions that we need to protect and we’ve put in place to advance African interest, we expect the African Union to use its position in the G20 to push in the global scene.”
Akinyemi then spoke on the importance of the G20 and other international organizations, as he said, “If you’re serious in articulating your own interests and pushing for those interest and you push them in such a way that they are not really antagonistic to the interest of the majority of the countries of an organization, the organization then becomes a platform for you to launch your ideas… but you must first of all get your interests very clear in your mind, in the ministries, before you then go out.”
Akinyemi then expressed his opinion on the recently concluded G20 summit, saying that there was no big achievement that stemmed from the meeting. He mentioned that although there is a “climate disaster”, as he described climate change, there were no definite steps that were given to solve this issue.
He then spoke on the fact that the Russia-Ukraine war was not properly discussed, saying, “The fact that, if you look at the Bali declaration which outrightly named Russia and condemned Russia for the invasion of Ukraine, you then got to New Delhi and refused to name Russia, you even refused to name Ukraine. Instead, you talked broadly, you restated the International Law principle that you cannot invade another country and occupy their land, probably shows maybe that the world is getting tired of Ukraine, and that to me is unfortunate because we cannot allow aggression in the world of international politics. We will all suffer for it.”