Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Over Libya, Pax Nigeriana has Failed ECOWAS

“The Accidental Ecowas & AU Citizen”:
Over Libya, Pax Nigeriana has Failed ECOWAS
By E.K.Bensah Jr

The inchoate crystallization of a Pax Nigeriana is in serious danger of foundering.

 In 2011, Nigeria has had and enjoyed the priviledge of sitting both on the UN Security and AU Peace and Security Council -- as well as heading the chair of ECOWAS. At the Pan-African and global level, its performance has been questionable.

Instead of using the opportunity to demonstrate leadership for sub-Saharan Africa, it has given into its solipsistic whims, exposing the country less as a leader and more of a filibusterer. This thoughtless itch to go it alone has probably endangered not just the Nigerian Diaspora but other West Africans worldwide. Here's why:

First, to many observers and neophytes of ECOWAS alike, Nigeria seems to be synonymous with Ecowas. During the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, many Westerners reporting the crisis gave the impression it was led by ECOWAS, using tags like “Nigeria-led” ECOWAS. A piece by bloggers of the academic blog “The Westphalian Post” of 2 January, 2011[1] even went as far as writing this of ECOWAS:

With France, Britain, the US and the EU preparing sanctions packages against Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria led ECOWAS [sic] threatening to mobilise the ECOMOG against Yamoussoukro, the loyalty of the army and Gbagbo’s apparatchiks may not last longer. Add to this ECOWAS’s decision to stop printing money for Côte d’Ivoire and the regime has its days numbered.”

Never mind the impression created that ECOWAS is “led” by Nigeria, and that the defunct ECOMOG mission of the nineties exists, but to even confuse ECOWAS with UEMOA (which was really the regional economic union that ensured bank notes had been stopped) speaks of a breath-taking ignorance of ECOWAS and its mandate by much of the West. 

Second, at a continental level, Nigeria's recognition of rebels has both endangered the sub-region and unwittingly irked the AU. Although some African countries have recognized the rebels, the AU officially has not. In addition, despite the fact that Nigeria refused to attend the Paris conference “welcoming” the TNC to the international community, as it were, lending some credence to an independent stance, few can deny how much Nigeria's stance looks pro-Nato and pro-West.

Third, far be it for anyone to assume that from Ghana we know what is going on on Nigeria’s domestic front as far as security is concerned, but there’s no gainsaying that while Nigeria must be lauded for wanting to open communication channels with Boko Haram, the extent to which it was successful has been demonstrated with the bombing of the UN building on 24 August.

The very incisive journalists in the Nigerian media must have written many column inches about it; I wonder whether—in fact I can confirm—most of my Ghanaian compatriots did not countenance sufficient cogitation over the issue to warrant discussion in the press through feature articles, for example, over the usual politicking.

In my view, whether Boko Haram is a domestic Islamic sect or not, that they exist is one existence of a sect too many, and too close to Ghana—not to mention a significant and nettlesome hindrance to the peace and security efforts being promoted by ECOWAS since it revised its treaty in 1993—not to merit consideration and attention by media practitioners in the sub-region.

In this case, Ghana could have capitalized on what some ECOWAS neighbours believe to be Ghana’s “arrogance” of feeling it to be the beacon of stability in the sub-region to join hands with its bigger neighbor in Nigeria to reflect on the ramifications of Boko Haram on the peace and stability of the sub-region. No-one need be told that the sub-region is both volatile and explosive, what with an abundance of natural resources, including Black Gold, coupled with our ever-porous borders.

These sparks ought to have been sufficient for Nigeria to have read between the lines, reflected also on the 17 June bombing, considered the many meetings of the INTERPOL-supported West African Police Chiefs Committee Organisation (WAPCCO) between June and August, and decided to get serious on encouraging and lobbying fellow West African countries to ratify the 2005 protocol establishing  the Criminal Investigative Intelligence Bureau(CIIB).

That Guinea-Conakry is the only ECOWAS member state to have established one at the local level ought to have given Nigeria fodder to begin lobbying that francophone neighbor into offering best practices for a possible model for the sub-region.

Meanwhile, Ghana does not -- and ought not – to escape finger-pointing here, for it was the country that recommended at Abidjan in 2002[2] at what would have been a meeting of WAPCCO that ECOWAS should be endowed with an FBI/INTERPOL-like intelligence system for ECOWAS to deal with cross-border crime. Since 2005, when the proposal for it was included in an ECOWAS Political Declaration,  Ghana seems to have kept mute on the issue – as if it is neither important nor necessitates reflection on given our equally-porous border we share with Cote d’Ivoire and the attendant security issues we experience.

Fourth, what the Nigerian Daily Trust calls the country’s decision to “re-formulate [its] foreign policy to reflect current global realities” is suspicious at best, dangerous at worst. Even if we forget it only goes to reinforce views of Nigerian’s surprising and remarkable volte-face, it has given Nigeria unwanted attention in an era where “terrorism” can be formulated into a convenient answer to intractable problems.

The Daily Trust’s editorial of 2 September is not without bite. It criticizes Nigeria for thoughtlessness, arguing that “to play [a] leadership role effectively, Nigeria’s leaders must be ready to think things through before they take any action on behalf of its people and on behalf of the peoples and countries of Africa.”  Considering how countries in the sub-region are concerned about the spillover of the Libyan conflict, the point about how Nigeria’s thoughtless act somehow endangering the sub-region can therefore not be sneezed at.

In the final analysis, no matter what Nigeria tries to do to save face, history is likely to judge it harshly. The opportunity lost to show leadership at a historic time when that country sits on the Councils of what are arguably two of the most prestigious international gathering on peace and security alongside South Africa, and to have the latter steal the thunder of Nigeria by offering a principled stance by not recognizing the rebels of Libya could certainly be conceived of as the beginning of the breakdown of any assumption of a Pax Nigeriana—and all the attendant respect that comes with such a status.

ekbensah AT critiquing-regionalism.org

In 2009, in his capacity as a “Do More Talk Less Ambassador” of the 42nd Generation—an NGO that promotes and discusses Pan-Africanism--Emmanuel gave a series of lectures on the role of ECOWAS and the AU in facilitating a Pan-African identity. Emmanuel owns "Critiquing Regionalism" (http://www.critiquing-regionalism.org). Established in 2004 as an initiative to respond to the dearth of knowledge on global regional integration initiatives worldwide, this non-profit blog features regional integration initiatives on MERCOSUR/EU/Africa/Asia and many others. You can reach him on ekbensah@ekbensah.net / Mobile: 0268.687.653.


Anonymous said...

You certainly have issues with Nigeria.The fact is that , Nigeria is a regional power, and has even proved you wrong with the results of the Libya struggle.Nigeria is not perfect, but they have managed to shoulder the leadership responsibility of the African race. Accept it or not, you know , and must have seen the Nigerian man or woman on the field of life.I guess you envy them, and don,t know that you do.Best thing you should do , is to learn from them.I have some African Americans here , who use to think like you, but the results the Nigerians have produced whether in college or commerce is too good to be ignored.
And i have just read that Nigeria even finances Ghana as a country.This is amazing.....
Big heart, great mind great people.
Finally , i got here , because my professor who an authority in global peace, has asked us to study PAX NIGERIANA,how dare you call this a failure.
By the way , my aunt attended Harvard and their first three best graduating students were Nigerians.

Show some respect.....love it or hate it Nigeria is a great country.
Pax Nigeriana is gaining global popularity, it certainly needs some improvements

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