Experts Chart Path For Buhari On Foreign Relations
ON the one hand, there is the likelihood that the incoming administration would enjoy international goodwill. On the other hand, however, the administration must have to be exceedingly savvy not to squander the goodwill on a platter of bad policy direction; especially regarding the way it handles regional intervention in handling the menace of Boko Haram, the relationship with the South African government over the seizure of Nigerian money-for-arm, bolstering Western confidence, as well as, engaging the Chinese and other Asian countries constructively.
The global attention on the March 28 presidential candidates was unprecedented. Emissary of the United States government in the person of US secretary of state, Mr. John Kerry, was in Abuja in January and extracted from the two leading presidential elections, President Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari, a commitment of peace and smooth transition.
On the heels of Kerry’s visit, representative of the International Criminal Court (ICC) came calling to assure politicians that the world is following events in Nigeria closely and the court would not be shy of prosecuting acts of criminality or public incitement to disorder.
The prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, in a statement, declared: “Any person who incites or engages in acts of violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing in any other manner to the commission of crimes within ICC’s jurisdiction is liable to prosecution either by Nigerian Courts or by ICC.
No one should doubt my resolve, whenever necessary, to prosecute individuals responsible for the commission of ICC crimes.” Unprecedented 80 Commonwealth and African Union (AU) election observers were in the country to observe the polls.
A day after the polls, led by former Ghanaian leader, John Kuffour, the Economic Community of African States (ECOWAS) summarized Nigerian and global feeling when they declared after the polls: “It is our hope that Nigeria will come out a winner.
I commend the way and manner voters conducted themselves.’’ Indeed, Nigeria did come out the winner, but the buck is now firmly on the table of the in-coming Buhari-led government.
Unresolved Matters: Refusal to sell certain categories of arms to Nigeria WHILE the United States did not stand alone in its refusal to sell certain categories of arms to the Nigerian government to aid its fight against the Boko Haram insurgents, the US also galvanised its allies to tow its desired line.
The US hinged its decision on the belief that, on the one hand, the Nigerian government does need those categories of arms to fight the insurgents and, on the other hand, that security in Nigeria had been compromised at the highest level of governance and consequently, the US security measures would be in danger of being compromised in the African sub-region.
The US also said it was uncomfortable with human rights abuses in the fight against Boko Haram Regional intervention against Boko Haram ANOTHER stroke of luck in favour of the in-coming government is that it would be inheriting a war against Boko Haram that is already hugely decimated and on the back foot. But the cost is high.
The Nigeria Army has been exposed to a psychological dilemma it never experienced since formation as an independent fighting force.
Though, the AU force may not be needed anymore, at least if things stand the way they are, but the current successes against the insurgents cannot be divorced from the intervention of the Chadian, Cameroonian and Nigerien armies.
The task before the Buhari-led government is re-positioning the Nigerian Army and sustaining the relationship with the neighbouring countries.
South Africa seizure of Nigeria’s monies RELATIONSHIP between Nigeria and South Africa was on the downward trend when on September 5, 2014 some 9.3 million US dollars was shipped illegally to purchase arms in South Africa. The sum was impounded.
Later, another 5.7 million dollars, was similarly impounded by the South African government. These monies are yet to be released to the Nigerian authorities. Currently, the South Africans are holding at least 15 million US dollars of Nigerian money.
Gladly, South Africa is reportedly considering returning the $15 million, as well as, clearing the way to sell arms to Nigeria. South Africa, according to reports, has begun talks to work out a process to return the money in an effort to start off on a clean slate with the Buhari-led government.
Nigeria’s abstinence from Palestinian vote FOR a long time, Nigerian has been in the forefront of liberation struggles in Africa and outside the continent. But when on December 29, 2014, the country abstained from voting for the independence and recognition of the Palestinian State by the United Nations Security Council, many became worried.
Though, Nigerian vote might not have eventually mattered considering the readiness of the United States to veto the Security Council decision, yet Nigeria would have been true to her fundamental principle of long-standing aversion to any form of colonisation, land grab and racial discrimination.
These are some of the areas for the incoming administration to redeem. Prof Chibuzo Nwoke is the General Secretary of Nigeria Society of International Relations.
“I WOULD expect the incoming Buhari Administration to systematically and simultaneously correct several lapses in the Nigerian environment, including governance, leadership, economy, security, politics, corruption, citizen morale (weak nationalism/patriotism), etc.
On that platform, I would expect the new government to signal to the world a fresh and independent foreign policy orientation, such that the Nigerian President can stand amongst other world leaders as a strong and legitimate representative of a truly equal and independent sovereign power.
This way, the sickening psychological mind-set that would make us display (as a campaign material) the picture of the Nigerian President in a subservient handshake with Obama would no longer be necessary.
“On abstaining from voting on Palestine: It should be clear that a two-nation solution is necessary in this long drawn conflict, i.e. true and lasting peace that ensures safe and secure Palestine and Israel.
We need to end the occupation, we need to dismantle illegal settlements, we need to remove the controversial ‘security fence,’ and we need to preserve the right of return for Palestinians.
“In abstaining from voting on this issue, the Jonathan Administration has failed to represent the interest of Nigerians and indeed all Africans in a historic opportunity to promote peace and justice at the UN.
The Government has let the opportunity slide to stand on the side of truth on a very important issue of universal human rights.
Some implications for this irresponsible position include: First, this Government has indirectly declared Israel exempt from the UN mandate (UNSC Resolution 242) for Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories that it acquired in the 1967 war.
Second, Nigeria has inadvertently strengthened the voice of extremists on the issue, encouraged and emboldened Zionists, and, of course, dutifully played out the script of the so-called international community, led by America.” Prof. Garba Abari teaches International relations at the University of Maiduguri.
“THERE is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria’s Foreign Policy especially under the Jonathan administration has been such that has diminished the stature of the country as the world’s most populous black country; with lots of leadership role and responsibility within the sub-regional, continental and global spheres.
“Since independence to date, Nigeria has left its imprimatur on the global scale, either as a continental power with vast human and material resources which it used positively in giving leadership direction in Africa, or as an active member of the United Nations.
Nigeria’s anti colonial and anti-imperialist posture at different times and in different spots of anti-colonial struggle has earned her respect in the comity of nations.
One has in mind and can recalls with nostalgia the role Nigeria played in the liberation of Southern African states of South Africa, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe and the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.
One can recall the glorious days of Nigeria’s anti-imperialist stance during the short but eventful regime of Gen. Murtala Mohammed and it’s offshoot under the then Gen. Obasanjo.
Such heroic anti-colonial and anti-imperialist stance was what earned Nigeria the frontline states status despite physical distance from the theatre of the liberation struggle.
“Nigeria under the new dispensation must rise up to the call of its continental leadership. The 2015 presidential election has upped Nigeria’s stand and ranking as a strong emerging democracy that has a lot to teach other countries on the continent.
About 19-20 African countries are going into elections this year. The recent electoral experience of Nigeria is indeed an experience worthy of emulation by other countries on the continent and beyond.
“The new government must return to Nigeria’s progressive Foreign Policy for which it is known by standing alongside other countries who are being handed the shorter end of the stick as a result of imperialist maneuvers and manipulation.
The recent abstinence of Nigeria from voting for the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic was as anti-climatic as it was retrogressive. The country was made a laughing stock when the facts that informed the abstinence came to the public domain.
The new administration must concentrate on building strong state institutions, institute good governance and run an open and transparent government that will make its citizens proud.
It must expand the political space and allow genuine opposition so that the nation’s democracy will grow to greater heights. Most importantly it must return to the Concentric Circle Model of diplomacy by given priority attention to the domestic concerns, sub-continental and continental concerns before expanding to larger global issues.
Prof. Emevwo A. Biakolo is the Dean, School of Media and Communication (SMC) Pan Atlantic University, Lagos “GENERAL Buhari is in a double bind. Jonathan refused to dance to the tune of Washington and London on some issues. And was, therefore, no ‘good nigger’ as far as the West was concerned.
“Nigeria, for the sake of internal peace as much as other reasons, will keep Africa at the centre of her foreign policy. Anything less is a betrayal of the continent. And General Buhari had better watch out. He will be the most closely scrutinised President we ever had.”