From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE and MOLLY KILETE, Abuja
The former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku said yesterday that Nigeria committed a big blunder she would have to live with by agreeing to go to the World Court over the Bakassi issue. Anyaoku, who was the Chairman at the Second Annual Forum of the Society for International Relations Awareness (SIRA) held in conjunction with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), posited that Nigeria would have stuck to the Green Tree Agreement and go with the Bakassi people’s decision.
“I have had an occasion to say that Nigeria made an initial mistake by agreeing to go to the World Court.” “I think this was a mistake and I believe we have to live with the outcome of that mistake. In my view, Nigeria should have stuck to the wishes of the people who live in Bakassi. If I may give two examples, look at the Falkland Islands, historically, Falkland Island legally belonged to Argentina but because of the dominant wishes of the people of Falkland Islands, which is the case the UK has taken to the UN.
It has been impossible to ignore the wishes of the people who live in the Falkland Island. “Another example is Gibraltar, the Rock of Gibraltar was ceded to UK as far back as 1713 and there was no debate until then, Gibraltar was part of Spain. Of course, the British government wisely stuck to the view that the wishes of the people who live in Gibraltar must determine the political status of the Rock.
So, I think this was what Nigeria should have done but having failed to do that, I think Nigeria should live with the outcome of the World Court and I must say I complement what SIRA said on this because the focus of Nigeria’s policy on Bakassi now should be in two forms. The first was to intensify diplomatic dialogue with Cameroun to make sure that all the conditions stipulated in the judgement as far as the people of Bakassi are concerned are upheld and practiced. Secondly, to look at those Bakassians who have chosen to return to Nigeria.
This should be the two focal points of our policy on the Bakassi.” Anyaku, commended President Goodluck Jonathan on Nigeria’s foreign policy in the past 12 months, saying, the policies had clearly stated Nigeria’s economic interest as well as it’s standing on international issues, enough for the international community to note.
According to the former Commonwealth secretary general, President Jonathan’s implementation of the foreign policy had played a key role in Nigeria’s ability to secure a place in the African Union. He also lauded Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s outing while gunning for the office of World Bank President. “But for the fact that the United States of America was the determining factor, she wouldn’t have lost,”
Anyaoku pointed out. The diplomat also commended Nigeria’s role in restoring peace to places like Cote d’Voire but warned that poor funding of Nigeria’s foreign missions would threaten and undermine the successes recorded by Nigeria’s foreign policy. He observed that owing Switzerland Embassy staffers and officials, arrears of salaries which had not been paid since January, was unpalatable.
He also cited Nigeria’s mission in Canada, which had not paid salaries for two months, nor paid its electricity, water, telephone bills and sundry expenses over alleged failure of the Federal Government to release funds to ministries, agencies and parastatals, including the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Most of Nigeria’s missions abroad are said to be in dire financial straits as diplomats are now stranded and broke with many of the ambassadors going cap in hand to beg funds from the Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Anyaoku commended SIRA for it’s successes despite being just two years old and urged it to continue to contribute to Nigeria’s foreign policy. Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido, who was the Guest Speaker on the occasion, noted that Nigeria’s economy was a major challenge to Nigeria’s foreign policy.
The governor, who spoke through his Commissioner for Information, Haruna Wakili, also observed that there had to be a caring government in Nigeria to evolve a good foreign policy since foreign policy was a reflection of a country’s domestic policy. The Resident Representative of FES, Thomas Mattig, said his organisation decided to back SIRA because of their similarities in their goals.
He said as Nigeria was taking an increasingly important position in global affairs, dialogue on its foreign policy was becoming more important. “Virtually, all major policy problems today-be it global injustice, poverty, energy security, climate change, or global insecurity, cannot be resolved without a cooperation that brings key countries from the global South and North together.
The more Nigeria’s foreign policy is publicly discussed and designed according to the enlightened interests of it’s people, the better for all of us. That is why we support and partner with SIRA.”