Ahead of Nigeria’s 2019 general elections, the United States of America, France and the United Kingdom have curiously threatened to punish anyone found guilty of either instigating violence or plotting to rig the elections.
Similarly, they and the European Union expressed reservations over the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
This actions, demonstrates the powerful influence they wield over third world nations especially, even though countries are politically sovereign. In our case, the UK particularly had a long history of master-servant relationship with Nigeria until our independence in 1960.
Not done with the 60 years of colonial hold on us, the UK still arrogates an imperial power of control to call the shot from a distance.
To assert their warnings, the US said it “will be paying close attention to actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process or instigate violence against the civilian population before, during, or after the elections” and “will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those found to be responsible for election-related violence or undermining the democratic process”.
The UK will send monitors to look out “for any attempts to encourage or use violence to influence the elections” and promised consequences on individuals to “include their eligibility to travel to the UK, their ability to access UK based funds or lead to prosecution under international law.”
This kind of temerity and clandestine meddling from superpowers hardly come out of vacuum. It is the outcome of a carefully planned strategy with the potential to open up our country to vulnerabilities. In international relations, the sum total of your political, economic and military power puts you in a position of privilege used oftentimes to dictate for, and meddle in the internal affairs of other nations including threatening them with sanctions. For example, the weighty warnings are coming on the heels of agitation among politicians and particularly former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who expressed doubt on the readiness and capability of INEC and the Federal Government to conduct free and fair election in his latest 16-page letter.
Granted that the US and UK may have good intentions, their approach should have been consultative and advisory, rather than lordly and punitive, as it were, since Nigeria is no longer a colony but a sovereignty with strategic role in Africa and among comity of nations. We commend the Federal Government approach to the issue despite the diplomatic slight by asking the two countries to see the success of the election as a collective responsibility by both government and the opposition particularly in the light of their language, actions and undisguised threats.
We are of the view that politicians must think first of the peace and stability of the nation before any other consideration as ambitions can only be met in sane societies devoid of foreign inspired crisis.
In the words of the All Progressives Congress National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, “The thing is that Nigeria is not a colony. I think we all have to be careful. We must defend the sovereignty of our country. We welcome collaboration, we welcome peer review, we can compare notes, we welcome people who are interested in sharing experiences with us whenever the need arises, whether it is capacity building, making useful suggestions on how we can continue to improve on our electoral process.
“Those are very valuable contributions that we appreciate. But Nigeria is not a colony. We will not accept any foreign interference in the internal affairs of Nigeria.
“They dismissed judges in Europe…judges have been dismissed in the United States when they are found guilty of corruption, the Western world cannot on the one hand when it suits them, describe Nigeria as fantastically corrupt and when a corrupt judicial officer is being charged, people want to interfere”.
We stand by mutual respect by all nations of the world. We must not cave in to bipolar reconstruction of social and political reality to the extent that individual or group of countries will represent themselves and those they believe are with them in positive self estimation, while they reconstruct those they are against in negative other representation. The whole world must be driven by the same set of rules, and not by a divide and rule strategy which will always fail.