JONAS EZIEKE, Abuja
The Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama has disclosed that tourism alone can drive the Nation’s foreign policy as about 62 million tourists visit Africa yearly.
According to him, government has identifies that sector as under utilized and the present administration is considering it as a sensitive key in its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).The Minister made the disclosure on Thursday in Abuja while playing host to the 29th batch of Leadership Course participants of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru (NIPSS).
The Minister who was represented by Acting Permanent Secretary Ambassador Olusegun Iginla stressed that the present administration is committed to drive its foreign policy thrust through tourism, which according to him, will enable the country make international statements with her endowments.
He reaffirmed that the nation’s foreign policy has been at the heart of development of African, insisting that Nigeria is committed towards respect for democratic institutions.He said, “under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of this administration, diversification of the economy through accelerated non-oil revenue drive is one of the cardinal objectives of the Government.
“To achieve this, and for many other reasons, Tourism is accorded a primacy of place. More so, the significance of tourism in international relations. Apart from projecting a country in good light, it is not just a source for foreign exchange earnings but also an instrument of power in international politics.
“Many countries have therefore, integrated tourism into their overall foreign policy and economic development policy.”Speaking further on the impact of tourism in Africa, he continued, “According to United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UN-WTO), Africa recorded 62 Million arrivals as visitors in 20l7,which translate to billions of Dollars and can contribute to GDP.”
He enumerated some of the policies put in place by the present administration to ensure that Nigerian remains a strong and respected player in the international arena which included the promotion of universal corporations and elimination of discriminations, maintenance of peace and security, job creation, economic development, welfare of Nigerians through citizens diplomacy and war on corruption.
He explained that the objectives of government is to take foreign policy to the people and make it relevant in their daily lives.He said that government is aggressively pursuing it through food production, educations and youth development, manufacturing, power, national security, and fight against corruption, On security in the subregion he reported that Nigeria has contributed over 1,200 troops to the peace keeping operations in Mali and other UN peace keeping operations around the world.
Expressing their appreciation, Dr. Ase Peter Umar, Consultant, to NIPSS said that he was impressed with the policy direction of government, adding that government should at all times implement those policies that will favour its citizens.Also present at the event were ranking personnel from the Ministry including the Director of planning, Research and Statistics (PRS), Ambassador Ibrahim Rabiu who threw more light on ingredients of policy formulation.
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