NIGERIA PLAYING THE BIG BROTHER ROLES IN AFRICA PART 1.

Posted by Olaniyi Abodedele on Thursday, March 6, 2014 Under: Feature Articles



It is no longer news that the people who disrespect Nigeria the most are Nigerians. It is also no longer news that those who curse Nigeria the most are still Nigerians. Happily, they are in the vociferous minority and are those who believe life should be given to them on a platter.

They are those who have failed to achieve in Nigeria and have succeeded outside of Nigeria and in most cases those who ran out of Nigeria to seek greener pasture outside of Nigeria.

Those who insult Nigeria insist that she is not the greatest in Africa. They quickly point to the challenges of corruption, growing insecurity, infrastructural decay, democratic anomalies, leadership issues and the stunted development as their reasons for this assertion.

These challenges are real and present across the nation. But the question is: Do they detract from the greatness of Nigeria? The answer is a definite NO. My question to them is; where in Africa is free of its challenges and problems? Name one African state that does not have its own peculiar problem, the answer is not farfetched NONE.

Irrespective of various challenges, Nigeria remains undisputed the greatest country in Africa. It is a deepening democracy, arguably the freest in Africa. Her people enjoy unparalleled freedom, with a thriving opposition, the most vibrant in Africa. It also has the most vibrant media on the continent with a plethora of civil society groups stated the BBC in an article “Africa” on the 12th of September 2013 which states “Nigeria's media scene is one of the most vibrant in Africa. State radio and TV have near-national coverage and operate at federal and regional levels. All 36 states run at least one radio network and a TV station”. “There are more than 100 national and local press titles, some of them state-owned. They include well-respected dailies, tabloids and publications which champion ethnic to national interests.

Nigeria is a country where no leader can impose his personal wishes on the people; they are a very outspoken set of people. Haven stated this; let us take a look at reasons why Nigeria is undisputed the greatest in Africa.

Population:

Nigeria’s population is 174,507,539 as at July 2013 estimate according to CIA World Factbook. Nigeria has experienced a population explosion for at least the last 50 years due to very high fertility rates, quadrupling its population during this time. The population of Nigeria represents 2.35 percent of the world´s total population which arguably means that one person in every 43 people on the planet is a resident of Nigeria stated tradingeconomics.com. The population of Nigeria has been projected to be 440.4 million by mid-2050 and 239.9 million by mid-2025.

The Population Reference Bureau made these projections in its recently released 2013 World Population Data Sheet, which put the country’s population, as of the end of June 2013, at 174.6 million.

SUNDAY PUNCH analysis showed that in 2050, Nigeria will be the third most populous country in the world, just behind India and China, who will have populations of 1.65 billion and 1.31 billion respectively.

No country has such huge population in Africa, the closest is Ethiopia with 86 million plus, followed by Egypt with 84 million plus.

PEACE KEEPING ON THE CONTENENT:

The blood of a Nigerian through its military peace keeping mission is in a lot of African countries. Nigeria has played the big brother in Africa, and has also fought oppression against Africans anywhere in the world, making Nigeria the highest spender on peace keeping in Africa.

Nigeria has so far spent $13 billion on peace keeping since 1960 stated Former Polish Ambassador to Nigeria, Grezgorz Walinski at the stakeholders’ dinner reception for the Nigeria Security Exhibition and Conference, 2014, organized by First Security Guards Limited in Abuja as stated an article written by Johnbosco Agbakwuru in The Vanguard Newspaper of October 31, 2013 titled Nigeria spends $13bn on peace-keeping – Ex-Polish envoy “Nigeria has spent about $13 billion on peacekeeping operations since 1960 and has also sent over 250,000 members of the Nigerian armed forces to the United Nation’s sponsored missions worldwide”.

He continued “the country started peacekeeping operations few days after her independence in 1960 in Congo and since then, the country’s forces have participated in many operations across the globe under varying international legal authority executing a variety of operational mandates”.

He said: “Her contribution to the UN peacekeeping operations is only surpassed by those of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Over 250,000 members of the Nigerian armed forces have participated in UN sponsored missions worldwide.”

“Having been involved in 40 of the 55 peacekeeping missions of the UN, Nigeria has now participated in 73 percent of all UN peacekeeping operations. Four of these missions have been commanded by Nigeria senior military officers.

Also in a paper titled The Role of Nigeria in Peace Building, Conflict Resolution, and Peacekeeping since 1960 by Muhammad Juma Kuna Department of Sociology Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto he emphasized that over the past twenty-five years, Nigeria has emerged from a relatively obscure position under colonial domination to a major power in international affairs. This position as well as the commitment underpinning it has been expressed more forcefully in the defense of Africa within the continent and in the Diaspora, has helped in keeping alive the pan-African ideal.

Thus between 1960 and 2005, Nigeria has been actively involved in various ways in the struggle against colonialism in Southern Africa; in demonstrating the cultural richness and diversity of Africa (FESTAC); in building and maintaining peace throughout the West African region; and in helping to establish, and continuing to support the Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS (1975)] the Organization of African Unity [OAU (1963), now AU (2001)], the Non-Aligned Movement, and other organizations concerned with bringing peace to regions and peoples across the world. It was in defence of these objectives that Nigeria broke off diplomatic relations with France in 1961 over the latter’s nuclear tests in the Sahara desert. Similarly, its membership of the “Frontline States” during the struggle against Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa; its long-term chairmanship of the UN Special Committee against Apartheid; and its leadership of peacekeeping missions in Chad (1979-82), Liberia (1990-98), Sierra Leone (1996-00), Guinea Bissau (1998-00) and Cotê d’Ivoire (2000-Date), in Somalia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are all reflections of Nigeria’s commitment and role to peace building, peace keeping, and conflict resolution in Africa.

Other peace initiatives that Nigeria have been involved in according to the paper includes: Congo (ONUC) 1960-1964, Battalion operations; New Guinea (UNSF) 1962-1963, Military Observers; Tanzania (Bilateral agreement) 1964, Battalion operations; India-Pakistan (UNIPOM) 1965-1966, Military Observers; Lebanon (UNIFIL) 1978-1983, Battalion operations and Staff Officers; Chad (HARMONY I, bilateral agreement) 1981-1982, Battalion operations and Staff Officers; Chad (HARMONY II, OAU) 1982-1983, Brigade operations; Iran-Iraq (UNIIMOG) 1988-1991, Military Observers; Liberia (ECOMOG) 1990- Division (-) operations; Iraq-Kuwait (UNIKOM) 1991, Military Observers; Angola (UNAVEM II) 1991-1992, Military Observers; Sierra Leone (NATAG) 1991, Training Team; Angola (UNAVEM III) 1992-1995, Detachment; Namibia (UNTAG) 1989-1990, Military Observers; Western Sahara (MINURSO) 1991, Military Observers; Cambodia (UNTAC) 1992- 1993, Military Observers; Somalia (UNOSOM) 1992-1994, Battalion operations and Staff Officers; Former Republic of Yugoslavia (UNPROFOR) 1992, Battalion operations and Staff Officers; Mozambique (ONUMOZ) 1992 Military Observers; Rwanda (UNAMIR) 1993, Battalion operations; Gambia (NATAG) 1993, Training Team; Aouzo Strip (UNASOG) 1994, Military Observers; Israel (UNTSO) 1995, Military Observers; Liberia – ECOMOG; Sierra Leone – UNMIL; and Dafur peace initiative.

In monetary terms, the contributions of Nigeria to regional peace missions in Liberia and Sierra Leone are in excess of US $10 Billion, and that is not factoring in the human price that was expended in order to attain, maintain and guarantee such peace. Nigeria also on its own volition has expended more than $90 Million through the OAU peace keeping force that was deployed to Chad in the early 1980's. In 1990's Nigeria through ECOWAS launched ECOMOG and also bore most of the cost attendant to such endeavor and in turn had made the ECOMOG experience an ideal model and benchmark for UN in the way that it views the role of regional peace keepers, and the need to partner with such regional groups that have a lot at stake in keeping the peace in troubled regions. Other areas of success will include the Nigerian role through the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo in reversing the military coup d' etat that took place in Sao Tome, and also the ability and leadership that was exercised by Nigeria in convincing former Liberia President, Charles Taylor to accept exile in Nigeria thereby paving the way for a peaceful elections in Liberia and a successful return of that country to a democratic regime.

Make sure to read our next edition for the continuation and part 2 why Nigeria is the undisputed greatest nation in Africa.



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