With reports that there are over 16,300 Nigerians in foreign prisons, delegates to the National Conference yesterday called for swap of prisoners between Nigeria and other countries.
The report by the Committee on Foreign Policy also recommended that Nigeria should sign extradition treaties with the eastern and southern worlds, as it’s the case with the western nations to help safe guard the nation’s nascent democracy.
The idea, the delegates said, is because as much as there are extradition treaties with the western world, it should be extended to the eastern and southern worlds because of the trend of coup plotters taking refuge in countries where there are no extradition treaties.
By so doing, the committee said that coup plotters have the tendency of taking political asylum in countries where there are no such treaties. This, the report said is aimed at saf-guarding democracy in Nigeria.
According to the former Minister of Education, Prof. Ihechukwu Madubuike, who quoted the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), said that there are over 16,300 Nigerians in foreign jailhouses due to drug-related offences. He also said that there are also over 3,719 Nigerian women in Canada alone.
Madubuike therefore called for the exchange of prisoners as contained in the report of the Committee on Foreign Policy. The former governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, supported him.
The committee’s report said that there are 752 Nigerians in the United Kingdom, 700 Nigerians as prisoners in China, 500 Nigerians in China and 96 Nigerians in the Indonesia prisons. They therefore called for the amendment of section 41(2) (ii) of the 1999 Constitution to enable the exchange of prisoners.
The committee recommended for the creation of Foreign Ministry Academy to ensure that only qualified Nigerians are recruited as staff of the Ministry of Foreign Ministry, arguing the staff of the foreign ministry is the image of Nigeria and therefore should be properly equipped through training.
The report on Foreign Policy Committee further urged the federal government to increase its budgetary provisions to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as it is not a good representation of the over 80 per cent of the embassies are living in rented apartments.
He further said that it is regrettable that Nigeria spends less than three per cent of her annual budget on foreign policy, whereas other countries spend as much as five per cent of their budgets to their foreign missions.
Gambari further said that the committee recommended that only 30 per cent of ambassadorial postings should be reserved for non-carrier diplomats and that all prospective ministers of foreign affairs should be made to pass through trainings from the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA).
The former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Ahmadu Ali urged Nigeria to pursue a foreign policy of ‘Quid Pro Quo’ in line with what would be beneficial to Nigeria.
Ali asked of what economic interest is Nigeria’s intervention in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali, but Prof. Eddy Eragbe from Edo State countered that the country’s foreign policy should be seen in the line of Naira and Kobo.
Eragbe had earlier said that some tangible benefits of Nigeria’s diplomacy also go with some intangible benefits, saying that foreign policy should not be seen in the sense of Naira and Kobo.
He held that some of the presentations at the conference held a wrong notion of Diaspora. He said Africans in the Diaspora have been involved in building the continent and these led to some of the major milestones in the continent including independence to some countries in Africa.
He said that Nigeria had failed to position itself for direct foreign investment and disagree with those saying that the country has no claim to the permanent seat at the Security Council of the United Nations.
Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, in her contribution, called for the resettlement of the Bakassi people, explaining that it would mean well for the foreign interest of Nigeria.