Bakassi:Nigeria Made a Mistake Going to the World Court, Emeka Anyaoku Insists
By Danlami Nmodu
Former Secretary General of The Commonwealth ,Chief Emeka Anyaoku has insisted that Nigeria made an initial mistake by agreeing to go to the World Court on the issue of Bakassi Peninsula .It was a mistake and we should live with it, he said today . Anyaoku who revealed he had made this assertion much earlier said, Nigeria ought to have stuck ,ab initio to the wishes of the people in Bakassi .He said this principle was adopted for instance during the Falkland Islands crisis as well as the case of Gibraltar, where the British government ‘wisely’ said the wishes of the people must determine their political status.
Anyaoku spoke in Abuja at the 2nd annual lecture and book launch organized by Society for International Relations Awareness , SIRA in collaboration with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung(FES) Nigeria.The former secretary general of The Commonwealth made the assertion while commenting on an address by Professor Nuhu Yaqub, chairman of SIRA .
Yaqub noted among other that SIRA had patriotically advised the House committee on Foreign relations that it would be futile trying to reclaim Bakassi at the time the issue came up recently. He said the options which Nigeria needed to look at included engaging Cameroun to avoid violations;taking care of Nigerians in Bakassi and probing to find out what happened to the funds that have been going to Bakassi local government thus far among others .Yaqub noted that’ SIRA’s position urging government not to push ahead with attempting to reclaim Bakassi land belatedly as it seemed was actually not popular but the society was actually not involved in any popularity contest.The society believes in giving very professional advice in the best interest of Nigeria.
Commenting on the above, Anyaoku who is also the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council on foreign affiairs ,concurred with SIRA .He also said he was impressed by the partnership between SIRA and FES , with a central theme of seeking to democratize foreign policy in Nigeria.
Speaking earlier,Mr Thomas Mattig, resident representative ,FES noted that “the desire to promote a better understanding an d public discussion of Nigeria’s international relations and foreign policy, to promote research and publication on Nigeria’s foreign policy and to enrich this crucial policy area through meaningful contributions, as laid out in SIRA’S constitution , lies at the heart of the organization’s activities.”
Continuing ,Mr Mattig said,”The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) supports the organization because our goals are aligned.FES Nigeria ,present in this country since the 1970s, is a German independent,non-profit organization committed to promoting democracy,peace,and social justice” He also noted that “foreign policy is too important to be left to politicians alone”
Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa state,a former foreign affairs minister who was represented by Professor Haruna Wakili delivered the lecture titled:Challenges of Foreign Policy Making and Implementation in Nigeria:An Insider’s perspective.Lamido said among others,“the first specific challenge (was) to recognize the historic conjecture of our coming into office. Nigeria had just transited from military rule to democracy. “Before the inception of this administration the confidence of the people in good governance had been severely shaken by the trauma of military dictatorship, irresponsible and irresponsive leadership” as I once observed during a briefing to the diplomatic corps in 1999. During that era, and especially in the Abacha days, the country faced diplomatic isolation. In response to this, Abacha shut out our traditional partners. Our most immediate task was therefore to repair the damage that military rule had done to the foreign and international relations of the country. Repairing this damage meant that lot of time, energy and resources was spent without giving commensurate attention to the long term foreign policy objectives of the country. This was therefore a challenge which at that time made our foreign policy to be driven by short term interests and largely on adhoc basis. At the very onset therefore, one of the key priorities of the administration was to repair the damage that military rule had done to Nigeria’s relations with other states and with international platforms such as the Commonwealth, the African Union, et cetera. We needed to restore the image of the country as one where human rights were respected, rule of law is the basis of governance and administration was geared towards the improvement of the living conditions of the ordinary citizen.”
Lamido’s lecture was critically dissected by Professor William Fawole ,SIRA and others.The book :Reflections on Nigeria’s Foreign Policy Vol 11:Consensus and Non State Actors was presented by Professor Ayo Dunmoye,SIRA.