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The Nigerian way of Citizen Diplomacy!

by on May 15, 2012

Citizen diplomacy is the concept where the individual has the right, perhaps even the responsibility to help form its countries foreign relations. Everybody can represent their nation and become a citizen diplomat; they can be students, artists, business people, teachers, athletes, humanitarians or musicians. Their role and responsibility is to engage themselves with the rest of the world in an important, equally and favorable dialogue.

In the globalized world that we live in today people experience their most lasting impressions through personally made experiences, such as travelling abroad. Therefore, citizen diplomacy is a powerful tool in defining one’s own nation to the rest of the world. Citizen diplomacy has the potential to create a group of individual relationships to maintain goodwill when formal diplomacy undergoes disruptions. Historically, this kind of people-to-people interaction was almost impossible through the enormous distances, however in today’s world with the rise of the internet and collapse of distances and increased travel more individuals on the international stage are able communicate and influence one another. For example, Joseph Nye believes that the best way for a country to sell its story to a foreign country is the use of citizen diplomacy, because “selling a positive image is often best accomplished by private citizens”.

The Nigerian government adopted “citizen diplomacy” in 2007, which was based on the ideas of the former foreign affairs minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe. Nigeria seeks the support of Nigerians at home and in Diaspora, in order to help to develop the country economically and politically. Citizen diplomacy in Nigeria is construed from a different angle of understanding; this means that its foreign policy will be focused on the Nigerian citizens at home and abroad. The foreign minister argues that they are not shifting away from the traditional approach to foreign relations, however that they have “rebranded” this tool and that the focus is more on the citizen. In this sense, citizen diplomacy for Nigeria is a mechanism to protect the “image and integrity” of Nigeria and react against nations which are hostile and who label them as corrupt.



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  1. Expanding globalization reveal new possibilities for public and cultural diplomacy. Citizen diplomacy became an important part of public and cultural diplomacy and each country, including Nigeria should consider it as a tool enabling to promote the country and to improve its perception abroad. The necessity of using Citizen diplomacy is increasing and opportunities of using this kind of diplomacy as well.

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  1. Public Diplomacy in Nigeria: Let the People play their part! | Public Diplomacy and Global Communication 2015d

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