Nigeria’s Quest For United Nations Security Council’s Seat; A Myth Or A Reality
Evidence abounds of Nigeria’s quest for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). This study examined critically, Nigeria’s persisting interest as variously expressed by her principal officers, evaluating its rationality vis-à-vis the objective realities of international politics, the design of the United Nations Security Council and the demands of prudent, appropriate sequencing of national priorities. It relied on documentary andsecondary instruments of data generation, logical interpretation and analyses of relevant data. Political Realism is adopted as theoretical framework. The study observed that the veto in particular and permanent membership of the UNSC are not distributed based on ethics, sympathy, fairness, equity or even democratisation but capabilities in terms of national power in all its ramifications. Further, Nigeria is far from being a global ‘big power’ able to resist coercion and to effectively coerce others, hence there abound urgent necessary domestic imperatives which appropriate sequencing of priorities demand that they should prudently precede the lingering quest. Among the recommendations are profound domestic reforms which would put Nigeria on the road to de-facto big power status, a necessary first step towards realising her persistent ambition. For now, Nigeria should limit herselfto non-veto wielding permanent representation of the Africa region.
Conclusion and Repository
Certainly, it is foolhardy to pursue the shadow and leave the substance. Unfortunately, beside leadership crisis, wrong prioritization is one of the serious maladies bedeviling the Nigerian state. Given the enormous responsibilities of the UNSC, as provided in chapters six and seven of the UN Charter, the design of the Security Council and the very essence of the Veto, particularly with reference to the time honoured ‘unanimity of the Super Powers’, it is of no use for inconsequential Powers to dissipate resources and energy aspiring for Veto-wielding membership under any guise – be it democratization or fair representation.
In the circumstance, we cannot but agree with Osakwe (2011:4) where he admonished that “the appropriate sequencing of the key domestic national priorities must surely precede the pursuit of strategic goals for regional and global leadership”. Obviously, Nigeria’s sorry domestic situation need urgently to be decisively addressed, before such ‘wild Goose chase’ of farfetched strategic goals. To do otherwise, amounts to “putting the cart before the horse”.
Ruminating over our lamentable domestic situation, Hon. Eyibor, one time Chairman Information committee of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, was quoted by Effiong (2009:8) as having likened Nigeria to, “a dilapidated building which needs a comprehensive restructuring to make all sectors work. There are crises in all sectors like Agriculture, Health, Transportation, Information, Power —and even the Niger-Delta, all of which require urgent attention”. Similarly, Tinubu (2010) opined that, at 50, the Nigerian House is in a sad state and it constitutes a health hazard to us, if something is not done on time to save the situation. To save Nigeria from imminent collapse — we have to look at the foundation of the House as no Architect can reconstruct a skyscraper from the roof top.
It is instructive that as early as 1985, the present Head of State, President Buhari had observed that “— no country can conduct a successful foreign policy without first putting its house in order”. True it is that Nigeria is great demographically but is that parse, sufficient criteria for her to deserve a permanent seat in the UNSC? Should that even be our immediate concern and appropriate priority?
As observed by Lyman (2010-:14); Chinese power comes not just from the fact that it has a lot of people but it has harnessed the entrepreneurial talents, economic capacity and all other resources of China to make her a major economic and political force globally
Evidently, Rodney was right when he affirmed that, development is a process of increasing the ability and capacity of a people to exploit the resources of their environment, so as to satisfy their needs at any given time. “A society develops …as its members increase jointly their capacity for dealing with the environment” (Rodney 2009:2). Nigeria at the moment is neither able to harness, process nor refine its natural resources in sufficient volume to satisfy its domestic needs. It is the only OPEC country still depending on imported petroleum products. Bitumen an essential raw material for tarring of roads so necessary in Nigeria, abound in large commercial quantities in the country but it is imported as the country is unable to exploit her own.
Nigeria is not even a member of the twenty largest economies, the (G-20), not to talk of the G-4 (Brazil, Germany, India and Japan), and it is virtually certain that it will not attain its aspiration to be counted as one by year 2020 (its vision 20- 2020). Beyond mere sentiments, Nigeria should avoid self delusion and not hide under fair representation, democratization (which of course is yet to be entrenched in Nigeria) or any such claims to obtain what it cannot exercise. After all, Nigeria has for good five tenures, served in the UNSC on nonpermanent status whereas the evidence is that over 60 UN member states have never had such opportunity since political independence. This is proven confirmation that Security Council membership and in reality the whole design of the UN, were not conceived as a matter of democratization, equity, fair representation or any of the likes but on Power and objective reality. In view of the fore going, realists like Aron were right when they contended that, it is power rather than any morality that determines or motivates foreign policy. We should therefore get our priorities right.
Writing on democratization of the UN, Onu (2000:18) noted that:
… I also think that achieving a peaceful world is one of the principal objectives of the United Nations. Democracy, where pursued to its logical ends may create a kind of order which may even be far from being peaceful if realities are neglected. It is contended that a lasting peace could only be talked about if the world could face the objective realities. In pursuit of democracy, do we chase what is real and right or that which is ideal and utopian?
It does appear that President Muhammadu Buhari and the current Nigerian Government have become weary of the futility of insisting on the ‘Veto’, as in his speech at the recently concluded 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he rationally and deliberately avoided mentioning the Veto but only offered Nigeria’s willingness to serve on a permanent status. This is more realistic and feasible.
Nigeria should divest itself of the idea of Veto and seek for a reform that would have her as a non-veto wielding permanent representative of the African Region. This is however, contingent on the speedy and drastic restructuring of her domestic domain as well as, quickly purging herself of all opprobrious domestic situations which had in the past given her a pariah status.
In view of the fore-going scenario, it is our considered suggestion that Nigeria should steer clear absolutely, of any pretensions to a ‘Veto’ wielding permanent status. The Nation’s focus should be on the first of the three reform proposals, which specifically is –a reformed and enlarged Security Council with a third category of non-Veto wielding permanent members, ensuring equitable and fair representation for all regions. This is certainly more realistic and feasible. Since veto wielding permanent status is based on power calculations, it is futile aspiring for it without acquiring the necessary power profile. Though Article 23 of the Charter requires that due regard be specially paid, to the contribution of members of the United Nations to the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as equitable geographical distribution, it is in respect of the election of the non-permanent members. The Great Powers are more likely to accede to a reform programme proposing increase in the permanent membership without a veto than with veto power. More importantly, veto power not backed by proven power dispositions, is simply pyrrhic and futile. It does appear that the present Nigeria Government has imbibed this suggestion, as President Muhammadu Buhari in his address at the 71st Session of the UNGA, carefully avoided any mention of the status of permanent membership, sought by Nigeria. He only stated that “Africa should be adequately represented …in the Permanent member category …Nigeria stands ready to serve Africa and the world in a reformed Security Council, to advance international peace and security”.
5.3 Profound Domestic Reforms
Given the crucial role domestic factors play in the determination of a country’s external or global rating, which as a result of the ever increasing globalisation and improved technological factors, have become even more critical, there is need for sweeping profound domestic reforms to shore up Nigeria’s rating or estimation globally. A situation where the nation cannot harness its natural resources and continually trudge on a wobbling mono-cultural economy with all its pernicious effects, does not do the image and perception of the country any good. Similarly, being rated as one of the most corrupt, with prevalent unemployment, pervasive poverty and perpetual insecurity, cannot give the country the required respect and reputation to be reckoned with globally. There should therefore be concerted and sustained effort at sweeping domestic reforms. Such inevitable domestic reforms should encompass the following.
(i) Diversification of Nigeria’s Economy
There is urgent need for conscious diversification of the Nigerian economy, away from the sale of crude-oil. The Nation-State ought to have moved to the level of export of fully processed or at least semi- processed products. It is not only insulting but deleterious to the Nation’s image and economy that up to the contemporary period, the country still imports refined premium spirit or petroleum products. It is certainly ridiculous that Nigeria which was a net exporter of refined products in the 1970’s, paradoxically is now a net importer of the products, without a fit functional Refinery in the new millennium. Indeed the current Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Kachikwu, recently disclosed that Nigeria’s Refineries would even be scraps by 2019. This was one of the reasons Rodney (1972) held that substituting the term developing for under-development in the Third world, is misleading.
Lip service should no longer be paid to the rational imperative of economic diversification. The development of Agriculture, Agro-based industries, the exploitation and processing of Solid minerals like Bitumen should be actively driven by Governments in Nigeria.
(ii) Sustained Anti-Corruption Measures
It is equally very pertinent that the anti-corruption crusade be sustained, the Anti-Corruption Agencies be strengthened and transparent. Corruption has been a monster and great impediment to efforts at domestic development. Nigeria cannot hope to be taken serious by the international community, when it is ‘fantastically’ corrupt. In this regard, Adedeji (as quoted in Adebajo 2008:1) observed that “No country that is confronted with a long period of political instability, economic stagnation and regression and is reputed to be one of the most corrupt societies in the world, has a moral basis to lead others. If it tries to, it will be resisted”. It is therefore very germane that corruption and misery be drastically reduced to the barest minimum possible.
(iii) Poverty Alleviation
It is despicable that poverty and misery have been increasing geometrically in Nigeria. Pervasive poverty and misery are not attributes of greatness and cannot provide the resilient and coherent domestic environment necessary for successful foreign policy. There should therefore be a well articulated, transparent and sustained poverty alleviation strategy. A successful fight of the endemic corruption in the country is one veritable way of alleviating corruption. Skill acquisition, reduction of unemployment and the liberalisation of credit facilities recommend themselves.
(iv) Sustained Massive Infrastructural Development
Aggressive, massive infrastructural development is another sine-qua-non or domestic imperative which will shore-up Nigeria’s economy, polity, prestige and global rating. Power generation and supply, should be given special attention. A country that boasts of only 5000Mw or even the recently speculated 7300Mw, is still a rural economy and therefore in no position to contest for either leadership or supremacy with contemporaries in the region who possess generating and consumption capabilities and actualities that far surpass this subsistence level. It is also sad commentary and shameful that Nigeria’s Refineries are virtually obsolete. The Iron and Steel project, as well as the Railway projects should all be tackled with the seriousness they deserve.
(V) Good Governance
Effective and sincere political leadership is the missing link which is required to co- ordinate, inspire and lead the push for a new Nigeria. A leadership that besides being accountable, is visibly responsive, responsible, equitable, nationalistic and so motivating or inspiring. It is such leadership that can change the numerous debilitating factors in Nigeria’s domestic environment and earn international respect for the country. These rationally observing, are the very modicum of domestic imperatives which should be priority and should indeed precede the aspiration for global leadership and prestige. They represent the least required to put Nigeria on the road to de-facto big power status, a necessary first step to the attainment of its lofty aspirations.
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