Whither Nigeria’s UN Security Council Seat? By Sola Ademiluyi

The Goodluck Ebele Jonathan led administration is one of the most lacklustre in Nigeria’s political history. It brings to question the reason why all the civilian helmsmen since independence have always been reluctant ‘leaders.’ The corrupt an inept administration has the tendency to over amplify things especially when they have no direct impact in the lives of the hapless hoi polloi whose ability to critically reason is battered to smithereens in their quest for the ever decreasing daily bread.

Nigeria has been a non permanent member of the United Nations Security Council three times before the recent election for the fourth time. We were elected in 1966-67, 1978-79 and 1994-95. From the way official spin doctors were portraying the most ‘recent’ victory, it was as if we just won the coveted World Cup.

What are the advantages of being a non permanent member? Non permanent members have access to a 59% aid increase payment from the United States and an 8% increase from the United Nations. What has been the impact of foreign aid on the economy? Since political independence, foreign aid has poured into all spheres of our economy – health, education, transportation and so on. Has it improved the quality of lives of most Nigerians? Corruption has been a key reason why these grants are mismanaged and insanely squandered. The GEJ government has been soft on tackling the hydra headed monster of graft. The Petroleum Minister, Diezani Allison-Maduekwe was alleged to have spent 2 billion naira to finance her private jet travels; this excludes her alleged mismanagement of about 2.6 trillion naira in the oil and gas sector. The Economic and Financial Crimes did not step in for an interrogation as she does not possess immunity, GEJ didn’t see it fit to give her the boot in the last cabinet reshuffle, The National Assembly has not found it necessary to conduct an intense probe of her activities. We are currently faced with the Stella Oduah scandal of purchasing two bullet proof cars valued at $1.6 million. No Probe of any kind, No firing by GEJ and a conspiratorial silence by the presidency and the ruling People’s Democratic Party. If we cannot be sincere to sturdily fight corruption, additional aid will not make any sense to the common man who has been forced by the exigencies of the cruel times to be his own government. What is really there to celebrate in the opportunity to merely foreign aid that will find its way back to foreign banks?

It is a well known fact that foreign aid is granted on the basis of strategy and not on humanitarian grounds. Being on the council is not necessarily a guarantee of additional foreign aid. Yemen saw its foreign aid slashed by the United States when it didn’t vote in favour of the council’s authority of the use of force against Iraq in 1991. It is possible for Nigeria to be arm twisted by both United States and the United Nations to do what is not in our interest for the mere sake of granting us aid. For the most populous nation in Africa to achieve her potential, it has to be based on introspective thinking about how best to harness our human capital for global export and not reliance on foreign aid that has not done much good. Singapore didn’t achieve a great leap from a 3rd to a 1st world nation on the basis of foreign aid. China did not become the fastest growing economy in the world on the basis of foreign aid. They are selling things of value to satisfy world demand. That’s what our leaders should be looking at and not popping champagne over what will further keep us dependent.

The veto power allocated to the five permanent members: United States, United Kingdom, China, France and Russia is 19.6% each while a miniscule less than 0.2% is allocated to the remaining ten non permanent members. This shows how powerless non members are in the scheme of things and may not even be worth lobbying by the big five.

Our foreign policy has not changed since the days of the military when Africa was the centre piece. We have not been able to strategically craft any specific interest in our international relations thrust beyond playing the role of Big Brother Africa. We helped South Africa fight Apartheid only for them to be liberated and now dominate certain sectors of our economy while smartly denying our business men easy access to theirs? We have been active in various peace keeping operations in the continent since the 1960s but how has that advanced our economic or political interests? We intervened in the Liberian, Congolese and most recently the Malian wars with no concomitant effect on our hapless economy. We even give some neighbouring countries power supply while our industries are left to rot and the Chinese generator mafia holds sway. Our foreign policy thrust needs an urgent overhaul so that there will be a direct nexus between our activities and the life of the man on the Clapham Omnibus.

Until we can tackle corruption and be as wily as Uncle Sam when formulating our foreign policy, the celebration of our recent entry can at best be diversionary.

@ademiluyitony on twitter 

Sola says what is there to celebrate in the opportunity to more foreign aid?