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Published On: Wed, Jul 30th, 2014

We shine abroad, but dim at home

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Blessing_GlegsowRecently, Nigeria was rewarded for an excellent peacekeeping performance around the globe with a fifth consecutive re-election to the Chair of the United Nations Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. Representing this country on the 148-member committee is Nigeria’s sitting Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Joy Ogwu – a former Director General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA).

In the vote held during the 234 session of the committee, Japan, Canada, Argentina and Poland were elected co-vice chairs and Egypt the rapporteur. According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Nigeria’s repeated election “signaled recognition of (its) peacekeeping efforts” globally, dating back to the civil strife in the old Congo and Lebanon’s civil war in the 1960s. This role has expanded ever since. In Africa, we recall the pivotal role of Nigeria in stabilizing war torn Liberia and helping to return it to constitutionalism. Ditto Sierra Leone. At present, we are deeply involved in pacification work in crisis-striven Mali and Guinea Bissau.

NAN described the Special Committee as the “UN flagship with the mandate to review all aspects of UN peacekeeping operations”. Speaking after her re-election, Ambassador Ogwu said the committee was “strategic in assisting the UN peacekeeping stakeholders in the efficient and effective delivery of peacekeeping mandates”. According to her, it will also serve as “a hub to facilitate the triangular relationship between the UN Security Council, General Assembly and the Secretariat.”This latest honour done to Nigeria came only three months after it became a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council on October 2013 and before we took its Presidency last March.

Ordinarily, this high visibility of our country in the UN system because of the beautiful work our troops and police officers are doing should gladden our hearts. Instead, our people are asking why they are not doing a similar job in the country, a substantial part of which is being ravaged by sectarian insurgency that has lasted over 4 years now. Only last week, a former Head of State and now top national political leader, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and an immensely popular Islamic cleric, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, almost lost their lives intargeted twin bombings in Kaduna, suspected to be the handiwork of the violent Boko Haram sect.

Before that, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, the governor of Borno state, one of the three states caught in the Boko Haram madness, expressed the increasing frustration of Nigerians over the failure of our security forces to root out this killer sect. The governor literally ran to Abuja to tell President Goodluck Jonathan that, as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, he was not doing enough to bring peace to the North-east, the epicenter of the insurgency. Indeed, he said that the troops sent to confront the insurgents were outmuscled by Boko Haram and “less motivated” than them. As is usual with our leaders, our President and his military chiefs weren’t happy to be told that their strategy against Boko Haram wasn’t working and would not work.

Responding to the governor’s doubts, President Jonathan said, “thesecurity agencies are working out a modality that will finally put an end to the daily killings of Nigerians”. However, he issued a veiled threat to withdraw the troops if the governor believed they were not helpful.”If I remove the military from Borno state for just one month, the governor will not be able to stay in the Government House”, he said. Certainly, such a remark was disappointing, coming as it did from a President. He should be talking about increasing the number of troops deployed on the ground, not a withdrawal.

But it wasn’t long before Shettima was vindicated. A fortnight ago, President Jonathandispatched an SOS to the Senate, seeking permission to take a jumbo $1 billion loan to modernize the military so that it would be better placed to confront the growing fire power of the insurgents.


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