An Igbo saying has it that: “a wren (nza) after it had filled its stomach, decided to challenge its own chi to a wrestling match”.
That’s, perhaps, is how we will see the challenge thrown to the international community by Nigeria, asking them to keep off the country’s problems.
Both the United States of America and the United Kingdom had on Saturday come out hard on Nigeria over the removal of Justice Walter Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari. But the Presidency fired back, warning these two countries, and by extension, the international community, to steer clear of Nigeria’s domestic affairs.
According to a statement issued by the United Kingdom High Commission in Nigeria, “We have heard a wide range of credible and independent voices, including the Nigerian legal profession and civil society, who have expressed concern over the constitutionality of the executive branch’s suspension of the chief officer of the judiciary.
“We respect Nigeria’s sovereign authority and its right to adjudicate on constitutional provisions but as friends of the Nigerian people, we are compelled to observe that the timing of this action, so close to national elections, gives cause for concern. It risks affecting both domestic and international perceptions on the credibility of the forthcoming elections. We, along with other members of the international community, are following developments closely”.
On its part, the US Embassy stated that the United States was “deeply concerned by the impact of the executive branch’s decision to suspend and replace the Chief Justice and head of the judicial branch without the support of the legislative branch on the eve of national and state elections.
“We note widespread Nigerian criticism that this decision is unconstitutional and that it undermines the independence of the judicial branch. That undercuts the stated determination of government, candidates and political leaders to ensure that elections proceed in a free, fair, transparent and peaceful – leading to a credible result”.
But in a swift reaction, Nigeria, through the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, warned that Nigeria would not condone any foreign interference in the domestic affairs of the country.
According to him, the federal government was against “any interference or perception management that promotes apprehension, citizens distrust or undermines the transparency and acceptability of the outcomes of the nation’s electoral process.
“Nigeria reserves the right to be insulated from suggestions and or interference with respect to wholly internal affairs and commends international laws, customs and norms and mandate that requite nations and the comity to respect this prerogative to all”.
Now, the die is cast. It is Nigeria, the giant of Africa, versus the rest of the world. As a sovereign and independent nation, nobody can dictate to Nigeria. She is capable of solving all her problems. She does not need any outsider, or the so-called international community, to come and tell her how to live her own life, how to handle her domestic affairs. She already knows how to do these, and is capable of doing them.
Similarly, Nigeria is self sufficient in everything. She is capable of producing and providing all her needs. She will no longer need to go outside to seek for foreign aids or borrow money. She will have no need going to Europe or the United States of America to beg for arms to fight Boko Haram. She will no longer go to London to seek for medical attention. All these are in abundance here in the country.
In 1997, a group of army officers staged a coup and overthrew the government of Sierra Leone led by Jonny Paul Koroma. But the ECOMOG forces led by Nigeria (then under a military regime), quickly intervened and crushed the rebellion and put Koroma back to power, and thus restored democracy to that country.
In Ivory Coast, a different scenario played out. A Presidential election was conducted in 2010 in which the main contenders were the incumbent President, Laurent Gbagbo and the opposition contender, Allassane Ouattara. At the end of the exercise, the electoral commission announced Ouattara as winner, with 54% of the votes. This tallied with the reports of international observers, ECOWAS, African Union, UN, etc.
President Gbagbo refused to accept the result and referred the case to the constitutional council, which was dominated by his appointees. The constitutional council annulled the results in Ouattara strongholds, claiming fraud, and later declared Gbagbo winner with 51% of votes.
Ouattara refused to accept the result. In December 2010 both Ouattara and Gbagbo assumed presidency, each claiming to be authentic President. This triggered off civil conflict, with about 3,000 people killed. The following year, 2011, the pro-Ouattara forces backed by French troops, arrested Gbagbo and extradited him to the International Criminal Court in Geneva, where he is now facing criminal charges against humanity.
All these go to show that in this era of globalization, no country is an island, existing on its own. No country can do whatever it likes, flouting the constitution at will, denying people their fundamental rights, etc., under the guise that it is its internal affairs, and that there will be no foreign interference. No, all countries of the world are now one, and what affects one country, equally affects the others.
In 1995, following the murder of Ken Saro Wiwa and his Ogoni activists by the regime of General Sani Abacha, Nigeria was declared a pariah state by the international community, and everybody in Nigeria at that time had it very rough. We pray that such may never happen in Nigeria again.
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