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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Opinion: It Is Time For Nigeria To Downgrade Its Diplomatic Relationship With The US

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by Akhigbe Samson

The dynamic nature of diplomatic relations in the international system is an established fact, Nigeria however continues to tilt towards a static methodology in the practice of its foreign relations. The behaviour of nations in the 21st century is being determined by many factors; ironically, very few of these factors are a spill-over from the 20th century. While the 20th century international system was largely determined by rigid political structures like the Alliance System, the World Wars, the Cold War, rise of new nations (especially in Africa) among others, the 21st century is being defined by socio-economic factors rather than political factors.

Unprecedented political behaviours are shifting grounds to dire socio-economic necessities thereby forcing nations with little or no political similarities to ally economically and socially. The international system in recent times is being defined by terrorism, climate change, corporate governance, Islamic fundamentalism, rise in poverty levels, global economic recession, the growth of new economies and gay rights. In the 20th century, very few analysts would have theorized that trivial issues such as gay rights would define the diplomatic relationship among States. The recent anti-gay law in Nigeria and the reaction of the West is an example of how non-political events are affecting diplomatic relations. These new trends are affecting the behaviour of nations as regards alliances; the rigid political alliances are shifting grounds for more pressing issues.

Against this background, this article takes a critical look at Nigeria’s alliances in the 21st century, and proposes strongly that Nigeria’s survival in the international system is premised on a systematic downgrade of its relationship with the USA.

Historically, Nigeria’s foreign policy revolves around what Professor Ibrahim Gambari describes as ‘Concentric Circle Theory of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy’. The Circle has four layers; the first layer defines relationship with her closest neighbours like Chad, Benin, Niger and Cameroon. The next layer focuses on ECOWAS; the third layer focuses on Africa while the last layer emphasizes our role in the International System. This Circle popularizes the concept ‘Africa as the Center-Piece of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy’, a concept whereby Africa and Africans is the primary focus of Nigeria’s diplomatic practices.

It is the position of this article that our diplomatic relationship with the West nay USA was premised on colonialism. Following the termination of colonialism, Nigeria has tried to define new relationships in the international sphere, but she keeps falling on her knees to please the colonisers. The military governments of Murtala Mohammed and Sani Abacha were perhaps the only administrations that made strong attempts to severe ties with the West.

In recent years, Nigerian leaders have failed to recognize and apply the fact that morality is enmity to survival within our contemporary international system. According to Hans Morgenthau in his work “Politics Among Nations”, he argued that universal moral principles cannot be applied to the actions of States and political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe. In simple terms, nations first and foremost consider their interest without recourse to the welfare of other nations. It is pedestrian to assume that a nation will assist you because you are ‘friends’. Our idealism has in time past cost us so much resource that could have been used to strengthen the nation.

The only reason USA maintains relationship with any nation is because of what it can benefit from that nation, the moment there is nothing to benefit, the USA severs or downgrades the relationship. Nigeria in 2015 is of no economic benefit to the USA, thus their body language towards Nigeria is beginning to surface in its hostility towards Nigeria. There are no special entry privileges for Nigerians, it is even more difficult for a Nigerian to process a USA visa than most nations of the world. For decades, the USA through its multinational oil companies in collaboration with corrupt Nigerian leaders have benefitted so much from Nigeria’s oil reserves, now that the oil is near worthless, the USA has moved on without recourse to the effect on Nigeria’s economy.

Gullible and corrupt Nigerian leaders are hooked on the idea that we have a friend in USA. Despite Nigeria’s rich and commendable contributions to military operations in and outside Africa, she is not getting the desired help in its fight against insurgency in the North Eastern Region. Nigerian leaders should as a matter of urgency downgrade its relationship with the USA. The USA in recent years have continued to show its disdain for the development of the nation.

Aside predicting the break-up of the nation, the US President has failed to pay any courtesy visit to Nigeria since 2008 citing security issues. Our leaders who are desperate to enjoy the comfort of the USA continue to visit rather than stay home and develop the nation. It is time we begin to relate as peers, not as colonies. Our political independence should count for something after five decades. We are bedeviled by institutionalized corruption and fragile socio-political institutions, we are constantly threatened by internal dynamics occasioned by the poverty of leadership. We are therefore overtly focused on satiating the oversized egos of USA.

As a nation, for us to stand tall within the comity of nations, Nigeria must focus on intensive internal development. Our resources must be utilized optimally to improve the conditions of living; our society must be built around institutions and not personalities. There has to be a hunger for lasting growth. The truth is; we must as a matter of expediency, shield ourselves from outside influence. The Chinese example is worth emulating as the results show. Several nations have downgraded their relationship with the USA, the heavens did not fall, it is time we severe the rotten umbilical cord.

Akhigbe Samson is a graphic artist and printer who writes from Lagos.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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