Like democracy, our West African allies are our worst option except for all the others. They need us need and we need them—let’s not call the whole thing off.
It’s not just Nigeria’s hard earned hegemony that’s in danger of sinking out of sight. So, too, is ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States. Unless Nigeria takes a long, hard look at the diplomatic power tussle going on in the region , we may find ourselves caught in the undertow.
Two recent news items ram the point home.
The admittance of Morocco into the West African regional bloc and the push for membership of more Sahel states.
The proliferation of French and American military bases and facility in a pattern of encirclement around Nigeria.
In short, one of Nigeria’s principal ally is lining up to the United States and France dominate the region. Ghana must signed a deal to allow the United States station military facilities in the country. A high tech facility that makes it possible for the United States and France to eavesdrop on…well need i say more?
Add the needless series of disparaging comments on Nigeria and recent tarrifs imposed on Nigerian goods, and theres only one conclusion to draw: The West African alliance that was once an important pillar of West African and Nigerian security is becoming a danger to both.
ECOWAS was created on 28 May,1975, with the idea that Nigeria would supply the alliance with the bulk of its economic and military muscle, while its other members would display the solidarity of political will to resist French/ Western domination.The single market economy, which grants member countries access to Africa’s largest market helped spur economic growth in the region on an unprecedented scale. Nigeria’s military power created the stability needed for these countries to rise from the ashes of economic despair and conflicts to rebuild itself.
in recent years, the formula was becoming absurd: West African countries were flourishing and incomes rising. Countries like Ghana benefited the most, having close cultural affinity they were able to leverage on Nigeria’s entertainment industry.
Yet their share of diplomatic loyalty to Nigeria and speaking with one voice waned. Instead, the vast Nigerian military umbrella let them build hugely wasteful welfare states under its shades. Depending on Nigeria for virtually everything and turning to the West whenever Nigeria’s aid is not forthcoming. So much for displaying political will.
The first sign that it had outlived its usefulness was during Obama’s visit where flew over Nigeria to Ghana, met President John Evans Atta Mills and addressed the nation’s parliament. In his speech he lauded Ghana which he hailed as the beacon of peace and democracy in a dysfunctional and volatile region.
In Obama’s address to the nation’s parliament, he applauded government leaders for a peaceful transfer of power during prior elections, a rarity in ” West Africa”. He also highlighted the growth rate of the nation’s economy and urged the leaders to continue their focus on good governance in a region bereft with corruption and intolerance, a veiled jab at Nigeria.
Then came Mali. Nigeria’s (a country bugged down in a bitter war of attrition with Boko Haram ) request for burden sharing in special cases was thrown out the window. Nigeria;s inability to lead was heralded as the dawn of Nigeria’s decline. Of course 16 member states could not muster even a battalion of troops. The challenges was unlike the region has ever seen. France and Chad was quick to fill up that power vacum created by Nigeria’s absence.
If an armed conflict does come back to West Africa, it is easy to guess who will be doing the fighting. Meanwhile, it’s increasingly hard to see what we’re getting in return when countries like Ghana are not only undermining ECOWAS, but seemingly mounting direct challenges to Nigeria’s security interests.
Between December and January Nigeria spent $300 million to to restore democracy in the Gambia, not counting assets deployed. Today we have Ghana, against turning itself into an American outpost. Just last week in Oxford, England Ghana’s President began a speech with a 20 minutes monologue on the ills of Nigeria. It is hard to picture a Nigerian President making disparaging statements about a fellow African West African nationstate despite her obvious diplomatic clout.
When ECOWAS was created, Yakubu Gowon said its job was “to keep the Nigerians in, the French out and the Americans down.” Today, ECOWAS is letting Nigeria down, allowing the Americans, French, Morocco and soon to be Tunisia in — and letting everyone else off the hook. So why are we still part of it?