Nigeria’s Role In Regional Peace Keeping, Peace Making, Conflict Resolution & Economic Opportunities
- Post 31 August 2006
- Last Updated on 23 April 2008
- By Cecil Ibegbu
According to Charles Robert Darwin (1809 – 1882), he posited that, “it is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most receptive to change.”
This paper is an intentional approach by the writer to evaluate and understand the posited comments as posted on ThisDay Newspaper of August 15th 2006, titled, “Nigeria refocuses international Relations” (http://odili.net/news/source/2006/aug/15/215.html) and what that will mean in the annals of Nigeria foreign policy if adopted.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, stated in that write-up that, "the mantra in the new foreign policy reform is to put Nigeria first in any relationship.'' [The] new move is seen as a reaction to critics who have over the years accused government of running a ``Father Christmas`` foreign policy. The critics have remained particularly miffed that Nigeria had sunk so much human and material resources in so many international ventures with no interests attached to such costly gestures.”
In reading all of that, it became apparent to any observer that Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed is indeed towing the hitherto established Foreign Policy initiative that Dr. Ngozi Iwaeala had called for upon her reposting as the head of the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where upon assumption of duties indicated that her focus will be to reshape Nigeria’s Foreign Policy approach to that with an emphasis on, “Economic Policy”.
Part of what Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed was referring to in comments above, “….[g]overnment of running a ``Father Christmas`` foreign policy,” may be attributed to Nigeria’s cost in Peace keeping, peace making, conflict resolution in regional Africa and the understood perception that all of that goodwill that have been extended to Africa have been undertaken without any Foreign Policy foresight, direction, and the need to understand that Nigeria in extending itself through its service, will need to benefit in those countries that it had helped and propped to better stability.
In making these assertions, this writer is well aware that these undertaken peace initiatives are done based on Nigeria’s belief that conflicts does have a spill over effect that at times destabilizes other regions and states by unfairly inducing or aggravating poverty issue, security, undue burden on immigration due to instability in one region or state, disease control and finally, a stabilized regional economy. Nigeria has sought to manage inter-state conflicts within the framework of ECOWAS and other bilateral arrangements with its immediate neighbors. In regards to this, it had made the promotion of peace and security the primary consideration, based on the conviction that economic development and regional integration cannot be superimposed on an unstable region. At the core of Nigeria’s conflict management initiative within Africa is premised on the notion that Nigeria’s security is inextricably tied to the security of West Africa. As Bercovitch in his article titled, managing Internationalized Ethnic Conflict, rightly stated that, ”most conflicts we refer to as ethnic conflicts do not usually remain confined to a single state, nor are they purely ethnic in nature. Most transform themselves into international conflicts, creating what I call an internationalized ethnic conflict.”
According to Muhammad Juma Kuna of the Department of Sociology of Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto, in a paper titled, “the role of Nigeria in Peace Building, Conflict Resolution, and Peacekeeping since 1960” [o]ver the past twenty five years, Nigeria has emerged from a relatively obscure position under colonial domination to a major power in international affairs. This position as well as the commitment underpinning it has been expressed more successfully in defense of Africa.”… [Thus] between 1960 and 2005, Nigeria has been actively involved in various ways in the struggle against colonialism in Southern Africa; …”
Some of the peace initiatives that Nigeria have been involved in includes: Congo (ONUC) 1960-1964, Battalion operations; New Guinea (UNSF) 1962-1963, Military Observers; Tanzania (Bilateral agreement) 1964, Battalion operations; India-Pakistan (UNIPOM) 1965-1966, Military Observers; Lebanon (UNIFIL) 1978-1983, Battalion operations and Staff Officers; Chad (HARMONY I, bilateral agreement) 1981-1982, Battalion operations and Staff Officers; Chad (HARMONY II, OAU) 1982-1983, Brigade operations; Iran-Iraq (UNIIMOG) 1988-1991, Military Observers; Liberia (ECOMOG) 1990- Division (-) operations; Iraq-Kuwait (UNIKOM) 1991, Military Observers; Angola (UNAVEM II) 1991-1992, Military Observers; Sierra Leone (NATAG) 1991, Training Team; Angola (UNAVEM III) 1992-1995, Detachment; Namibia (UNTAG) 1989-1990, Military Observers; Western Sahara (MINURSO) 1991, Military Observers; Cambodia (UNTAC) 1992- 1993, Military Observers; Somalia (UNOSOM) 1992-1994, Battalion operations and Staff Officers; Former Republic of Yugoslavia (UNPROFOR) 1992, Battalion operations and Staff Officers; Mozambique (ONUMOZ) 1992 Military Observers; Rwanda (UNAMIR) 1993, Battalion operations; Gambia (NATAG) 1993, Training Team; Aouzo Strip (UNASOG) 1994, Military Observers; Israel (UNTSO) 1995, Military Observers; Liberia – ECOMOG; Sierra Leone – UNMIL; and Dafur peace initiative.
In monetary terms, the contributions of Nigeria to regional peace missions in Liberia and Sierra Leone are in excess of US $10 Billion, and that is not factoring in the human price that was expended in order to attain, maintain and guarantee such peace. Nigeria also on its own volition has expended more than $90 Million through the OAU peace keeping force that was deployed to Chad in the early 1980’s. In 1990’s Nigeria through ECOWAS launched ECOMOG and also bore most of the cost attendant to such endeavor and in turn had made the ECOMOG experience an ideal model and benchmark for UN in the way that it views the role of regional peace keepers, and the need to partner with such regional groups that have a lot at stake in keeping the peace in troubled regions. Other areas of success will include the Nigerian role through the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo in reversing the military coup d’ etat that took place in Sao Tome, and also the ability and leadership that was exercised by Nigeria in convincing former Liberia President, Charles Taylor to accept exile in Nigeria thereby paving the way for a peaceful elections in Liberia and a successful return of that country to a democratic regime.
In conclusion, the new paradigm shift in Nigeria diplomacy as articulated by Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed and our erstwhile Foreign Affairs minister Dr. Ngozi Iwaeala is a highly welcomed one especially given the cost attributed above and the need for Nigeria to see those opportunities as a direct effect of Globalization trend that calls for an economic opportunity that Nigeria ought to tap into while it is keeping the peace in those troubled regions. While keeping the peace, maintaining the peace and conflict resolution, all of the agencies involved (the foreign affairs department, diplomatic core, the military, the civil police, and all of the other participatory governmental and non governmental agencies) should strive to promote the “Nigerian interest”, should articulate a position that promotes Nigerian indigenous companies that should have a first stab at reconstruction projects both on the pre or the post reconstruction eras. There should be an arm of the diplomatic core that engages the individuals in power in those conflict areas to accept Nigeria’s solicitation of help in order to facilitate the rebuilding process. After all, if Nigeria is good enough in helping solve those attendant problems, it also should be good enough in helping rebuild those economies, infrastructure and in general its’ government. These are what are attainable in the West with its colonial and post-colonial approach to underdeveloped world problem solving. In the West, these actors mostly intervene with selfish motives very often they have agendas of their own and are rarely completely impartial. For example, Albania, Italy no doubt feared a massive influx of refugees but also delighted in the opportunity to demonstrate its capacity to lead an operation that could buttress its claim to a permanent seat on the Security Council. It is also what the UN accomplishes through the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the only difference this time is that the Nigerian approach will be more compassionate and with a human face.
As well meaning Nigerians receive the news of the appointment and subsequent Nigerian Legislative appointment confirmation of Professor Joy Ogwu, as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, we congratulate and implore her to continue on the new focus that mandates “economic diplomacy” with an eye on the promotion of trade, Nigerian industries and a renewed effort on Agriculture in markets that have been in conflicts and that Nigeria through its own efforts, money, blood and sweat had helped to return to normalcy.
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