Xenophobic Attacks: The Need For Nigeria’s Foreign Policy Readjustment

Reuters photo

 

By

Durodola Tosin

Brexit came as a shock not only to Europe but also to the entire World. After my coherent analysis of several factors and actors, I didn’t expect such an unwavering support by the people to reach such a decision.

I was stuck in my reading room wondering how it all happened. Still trapped in my seat, I tweeted “Britain has done the unexpected in the international community, the end of EU?” “But did they?” I tweeted again.

Yes, disengaging from the EU will put Britain on a rough path in her ambition to restore her lost status but it was a necessary action that should ensure an Independent Platform to achieve the desired goals.

The long relations and commitment by Britain to Europe cannot be disregarded. Following the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 and the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Britain charged itself to maintain balance of power in Europe. This was to prevent any State from establishing permanent hegemony over Europe.

From the Seven Year War (which led to the defeat of Austria, France and Spain together with the exhaustion of Prussia) beyond the French Revolution and to the Pax Britannica period (Crimean War 1854-1914, Franco-Prussian War 1870- 1871), Britain channeled her resources towards ensuring that no state was powerful enough to dominate Europe. By doing this, the balance of power was maintained.

However, her involvement in the Second World War in the bid to balance Power in Europe contributed to her decline as a Super Power. She experienced economic stress to the extent of taking a loan from the USA. While struggling with the aftermath of WW2, other European countries left her behind under the umbrella of E.U. Germany, a major antagonist in the WW2 has grown to be a contending power again.

Brexit happened because the government and the Citizens were fed up with the policies that restricted them from returning to the buoyant economic status and undisputable military standing that placed them as a Super-Power before World War II. They were frustrated with the “friends” that had taken much from them and left them behind in the nuclear age. They were angered by the disrespect and disregard by fellow European countries on several decisions and actions which subjected their people to undeniable economic stress and social denial. They saw the need to put Britain first before others.

 

Likewise, in Africa, Nigeria’s leadership roles in the region are evident since the sad events of the Nigerian civil war in which some powerful enemies of Nigeria took advantage of its poor neighbours to support the rebellion in the country by using their territories and waterways. Hence, Nigeria’s foreign policy became Afro-centric in nature.This is based on the belief that the security well-being of the country is hinged on the security and material wellbeing of its poor neighbours.

In this respect, successive political regimes in the country from the administration of Tafawa Balewa to the present government of President Buhari have made pan-African solidarity and cooperation an unrenounceable goal.

Over the years, Nigeria has attached so much importance not only to the promotion and defence of its neighbours’ socio-economic and security interests but also defending the dignity of the black race the world over. In this regard and in its tireless efforts of wiping out colonialism and white minority rule in the continent, Nigeria has been in agreement with the cardinal principles and objectives which the United Nations stands for.

Nigeria has devoted her time, money and energy to political community building in Africa and towards mutually beneficial regional and continental integration. Nigeria was not only instrumental in the formation of the disbanded OAU in 1963 and the ECOWAS in 1975, but has also been in the driving seat of these organisations by playing a prominent role in their funding. Nigeria is a motor force behind the African Union (AU) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). She also funds ECOWAS.

With the quest to maintain leadership and Big-brother role in Africa, Nigeria has made significant contributions to the attainment of independence of African countries such as Angola and Zimbabwe and also played dominant roles in the struggle against apartheid and white minority rule in South Africa. This action did not only see to the achievement of independence of those countries but also led to the establishment of multi-racial government in South Africa which cost Nigeria billions of Naira.

However, despite Nigeria’s consistent and unwavering commitment and support for the region, Nigeria has never received the amount of respect she deserves in the continent. Her citizens have either been treated as unwanted species or targets for other African countries to exert their resentment in the unpleasant situation they are in.

Despite the fact that Nigeria has shown so much love through its Afrocentric and Radical Foreign Policy, the rate of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians over the last decade is shocking and tragic.

 

This shameful situation brought me to my core as several questions crossed my mind. What have we done to deserve victimization and continuous attack by South Africans? With much resources channelled to sustain Africa, why are we still treated like aliens? Is it lack of knowledge or what?

Well, a fellow Foreign Affairs analyst, Akeju Bosun answered this question in his article “International Issue: Resurgence of xenophobic attacks in South Africa” by saying “….Perhaps History is in a state of oblivion in South African schools which they need include to give proper account of past events relating to the Apartheid Regime….. With history they can be intellectually inclined with PRE and POST APARTHEID REGIME and how they need to exercise the principle of GOOD NEIGHBOURLINESS in order to avoid conflict that can strain diplomatic relations with not just Nigeria but other African neighbours.”

Nigeria spent billions on getting those bigots liberated from the Apartheid regime. She provided a safe place for the anti-apartheid actors. Even after their liberation, Nigeria didn’t setup a single industry or company there but however allowed S.A to establish their industries and companies (MTN, DSTV) here, yet Nigerians are lynched and victimized in South Africa.

Nigeria never exploited or demanded a dime in return for her contributions yet since the 90s various S.A Companies and Industries have exploited Nigerians without a violent or inhumane reaction from Nigerians.

Nigeria’s contributions to South Africa’s liberation and democracy supersedes every other country. Yet her efforts have been ignored and disregarded by South Africans’ continuous hatred towards Nigerians.

Instead of demanding a change in the Foreign Policy that has turned us to an “International Father Christmas” with much disrespect, some foreign affairs analysts are encouraging a “Status Quo”. To the extent that a historian said “With love we can still show them we are the most powerful black nation.”

What kind of Love should Nigeria show again? Why should Nigeria continue being a fool in the international system? This may not be a BREXIT or NEXIT issue but the similarities between the resources channeled by both countries in their respective regions and tragic experience afterwards cannot be ignored. This is about Nigeria and South Africa.

Our Foreign Policy flaws and contradictions have put us in this situation. We have spent and given so much under this so called Afrocentric Policy that it’s rather unfair to be experiencing this tragic situation. It is time we readjust our Foreign Policy and become more dynamic and aggressive.

The Nigerian Constitution expects Nigerians to be the first priority of any government or policy. Chapter 2 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, section 14 states that “…. It is hereby, accordingly, declared that:

 

(a) Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority;

(b) The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.

 

It’s time Policy makers put the country’s interest and responsibility to the people before its fellow African countries.

We are tired of watching Nigerians die and becoming uncomfortable in a continent that’s supposed to be “United”. I am tired of living in fear and awaiting when the next lynching will be me.

We have to start seeing South Africa as a regional competitor that is about to take everything that we deserve globally.

If you think showing love puts a country ahead of its rivals then why should Nigerians suffer so much in South Africa without emergent measures by its government. If so Nigeria should have been unanimously granted unalloyed support by South Africa in her ambition at the UN Security Council. But South Africa did not only declare her interest in the seat, she also challenged Nigeria’s credentials to aspire for the seat, claiming that Nigeria does not possess the necessary regional spread or image to bid for the seat.

 

Policy makers must remember that national interests and domestic obligation must be constant and permanent in the international arena. While “Friends” are changeable and changing, they must remember that in a continuous violent and inhumane situation like Xenophobia, “Nations must determine for themselves the modus operandi in its relations with the involved state.”

The government must understand that there is no state that enters into a global arena to pursue the interest of another state. Neither should a Nation or State expect any State to defend her own interest. It is a selfish pursuit of interest and the maximization of such interest at the expense of other countries if possible.

In conclusion, the government and Policy makers must respond to these ongoing Xenophobic attacks by restoring “Nigerians” and “Nigeria first” in her foreign policy. It is only then that Nigeria can react and assure necessary measures that will bring an end to the tragic situation. It is time for our government to shy away from putting Africa first, it’s time we treat Nigeria first and others second.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Durodola Tosin

Durodola Tosin is an author and writer. He started writing professionally at the age of 12. He was a Columnist in Ekiti Glory Newspaper, Nigeria from 2009-2010. He is the Managing Editor at the Roaring Voice (Online Periodical) and a Freelance Writer for Tuck Magazine.

He has written on several topics like “The Second World War and the economic situation in Africa”, “Africa and the effect of World War II”, “Neo-Colonialism: A Major obstacle to the process of nation-building in Africa”, “Nigeria’s Leadership roles in Africa”, “The Ethnic Setting in the Nigeria Area Before 1800?, ” Terrorism: A New Dimension of War”, “Early African Historians’ Writings Before 1945: Precursors of Modern African Historiography”, “The UN Security Council: Flaws and Obstacles”, “Debt Crisis: A Major Developmental Issue in the Third World Countries”.

Durodola lives in Ekiti State, Nigeria. He holds a Bachelor’s (Hons) Degree in History and International Studies. He is currently writing a book on “Nigeria’s Quest for a Permanent Seat at The UN Security Council” and “Nigeria’s Leadership roles in Africa”.

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