Nigeria's Security Role In West Africa
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Nigeria's Security Role In West Africa
5/6/2005 8:05:51 PM
On 19 November 1990, countries of both the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Warsaw Pact gathered in Paris for a momentous event. It was the signing of a joint declaration "affirming the end of the era of division and confrontation which had lasted for more than four decades". They solemnly declared that in the new era of European relations, which was beginning, they are no longer adversaries, will build new partnerships and extend to each other the hand of friendship. The signatories affirmed their "obligation and commitment to restrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state" and recognise that "security is indivisible and that the security of each of their countries is inextricably linked to the security of all the states participating in the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe".1
Because the two world wars fought during the 20th century started basically as Wars between states in Europe which later engulfed the world by extension of colonial linkages, the Paris declaration was seen as the dawn of a new world order, where global peace will reign supreme. Naturally, Europe and the rest of the world expected to reap peace dividend from the cessation of .the East-West hostilities. There was the expectation of massive demobilization of men and material and the consequent transfer of resources from defence to the social services.
Regretably, peace has eluded the world in general and African nations in particular. African has neither enjoyed peace nor development but has instead been burdened with new responsibilities and new conflicts. The main reason for this development is that the weakening or collapse of state structures in Europe and in particular, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, has led to the greater availability of small arms and light weapons which are outside state control. Some of these arms find their way to Africa. The uncontrolled availability of small arms and light weapons is not only fuelling various internal conflicts in Africa but it is also exacerbating violence and criminality.
West Africa's Security Environment
Against this general background let me now attempt a survey of the West Africa's security environment; remembering that security is best understood within the context of the prevailing threat situation. But first I must restate the dictum that threat is a function of values, interests and perception, which are dynamic, subjective, relative and politically determined. The import of this truism as it relates to West African states, which evolved in the way we already stated, is the perpetuity of high tension and the prevalence of conflicts. This assertion need not frighten us since conflicts are not necessarilyevil. Indeed.the challenges and opportunities offered can, if well managed, out weigh the fear, danger, violence and pains that characterise these conflicts. Sceptics, therefore, who consider the political antecedent of West African states too polarised for the emergence of a stable security regime, often ignore the fact that "people in different political units could achieve a depth and velocity of communication and interdependence and sense of shared social values that overrode their historical perception of each other as potential enemies"2. The "monolithic" Europe of today is the same continent that was for centuries, torn apart by internecine conflicts.
Let us for a start agree that the values and interests of the various communities that constitute the states in the West African sub-region, though not always congruent, they are not necessarily exclusive. Indeed, just as a deliberate process is required to synthesize individual values into sub-groups or community values, so also is it desirable to categorise the sub-group interests into the national interests and by extension, the sub-regional interests. It is the responsibility of the political class to determine the convergence of values into interests and do the rating. It follows, therefore, that the quality of the political class may well determine how individuals and sub-groups attach or alienate themselves to/from defined national or regional f interests. One paradox in defining national interests is that those who believe that their values are wholly replicated in the defined interests normally tend to become ethnocentric in just the same way as those whose values are ignored. The name of the game is "give and take", which makes the outcome of the synthesisation process rather perceptive. Everybody or community should think that its values are reflected and this is what elicits the spirit of nationalism.
Let me posit without equivocation that there is not one country I know of in West Africa that has it's national interests adequately defined to reflect the aspirations of all the citizens and the component communities. The multiplicity of ethno-political conflicts in the sub-region attests to the veracity of this statement. Indeed, ethno-political factor has become the lay-by explanation for all intra-state conflicts in West Africa for obvious reasons. Those who hold public offices and through whose misdeed crises erupt, can always count on their communities and kinsmen for protection -a case of right or wrong, our man dese:rves our support. Even religious conflicts that are by all stretches of imagination waged elsewhere on the basis of faith, have taken on the toga of ethno-political conflict in West Africa.
Some observers have, however, argued that the underdevelopment and instability in most West African countries is a function of low economic activities that manifest in unemployment, youth restiveness, poverty, hunger etc. They are quick to point out the weak resource base of these countries with little thought of what can be achieved with the much that is available. Indeed, the argument appears to ignore the enormous natural resources of these states that merely beg for imaginative leadership and strategy for enhancement. Nevertheless, it is obvious that given the level of the Gross Domestic Production (GDP) along with other factors such as location, size, population and natural resources (agriculture and mineral) countries like Nigeria, Cote D'lvoire, Senegal, and Ghana should play a more prominent role in the economic development of the sub-region than the others. Lifting the sub-region above poverty morass with the assistance of those who are able should enhance stability and by extension, security.
In his much reviewed paper "Agenda for Peace", Boutrous Ghali avers that the deepest causes of conflict world wide, and particularly in Africa have been recognised as economic despair, social injustice and political oppression3. The causes of conflicts arising from this position include inequitable access to power and resources (Pre-Doe Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote D' Ivoire); discrimination on the basis of religion and ethnic origin (Benin, Senegal); non-demonstrative and exclusive governance (Togo, Burkina Faso and Cote D'lvoire); and failure of institution of government (Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo).
The general belief, which is indeed a growing trend, is that with the end of the cold war, the support for many unpopular regimes in West Africa will continue to wane. It is also a known fact that many despots were tolerated by the metropolitan countries during the cold war ostensibly because of their pseudo -ideological posture. The truth is that they were allowed to continue their misrule because they had nuisance value and in order to allow the metropolitan states retain their focus. Things have changed and the boldness by which deviants are now embracing political, social and economic reforms may yet lead to the crumbling of many regimes. It is not likely that those who had entrenched themselves will give up easily but given the world's consciousness on human rights issues, the days of despotic leaders may be numbered. But again, some form of external intervention in the enthronement of democracy will be required.
Yet another source of intra-state conflicts of the ethno-political class is resource control. The communities endowed with enormous resources, particularly the ones that drive the national economy, want to also acquire political control of the state. If they fail to secure this, they advocate secession in extreme cases or a loose form of relationship that will at least assure them of some dominance in the state economy. In some instances, the agitators take physical possession of the resource base such as in Liberia- and Sierra Leone and are often assured of foreign backing by the multinationals that deal on the commodity. Predictably other groups within the union put in stiff resistance and are prepared for the prolongation of the war if that will restore the status quo.
If the dominant group in the union has control over the resources, then others would either be satisfied with the crumbs or could opt out of the relationship. They of course will not want to do that. Either way the period of tension would depend mostly on the features of popular support and foreign backing. The crises in Liberia and Sierra Leone have all these ingredients. Similarly, Nigeria has its fair share of conflicts arising from agitation for resource control.
The two major causes of inter-states tension and conflicts in West Africa are border issues and shared resources. Some of the conflicts that flared up within the sub-region are Senegal -Mauritania, Senegal -Guinea Bissau; Liberia -Sierra Leone -Guinea (Mano River), Ghana -Togo, Nigeria -Chad; and Nigeria -Cameroun. Almost all the events that are listed above led to shooting wars although for limited duration and scope. The foundation of border disputes has already been laid on the altar of non-delineation and non-demarcation of boundries that occurred at the Berlin Conference. At the inception of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963, it was decided that nations should respect and accept those borders inherited at independence. Somehow, the activities of trans border tribes have not enhanced the prospect of these borders serving as bridges, rather than barriers between states. Interstate conflicts over borders have remained a constant reminder of the in-security within the sub-region that needs to be .addressed. So also is the near fiare-up over shared resources such as the Rivers Niger, Benue, Volta and Mano and the Lake Chad.
Existing Conflict Management Mechanism
From the analysis of causes, effects and patterns of conflict in West Africa, it is clear that a holistic approach that requires a bit of the subordination of national sovereignty to the needs of the sub-region, would give the desired stability, even to the states themselves. Not to accept this obvious truth is to formulate ethnocentric policies and utopian prescriptions that may be unacceptable to majority of the citizenry .Yet beyond the mere expression of combined opposition to and acquiescence with colonialism and neo- colonialism, the existing security arrangements in West Africa cannot be said to emanate from any positive desire for unity of action. The gains of collective security should not be:ignored. First, it challenges opponents to reconfigure their own forces in less threatening ways. Secondly it offers at least, the prospect that the negative link between military and economic strength can be broken. Thirdly, it offers several alternative concepts that might be useful in recasting public opinion towards a more realistic and constructive sense of cost and benefits, opportunities and constraints of life in an interdependent world. And fourthly, it provides a more subtle and balanced image of sub- regional relations and crisis, than does the conventional model of power struggle.
The 16 countries that constitute the West African sub-region cannot be said to be averse to the concept of collective security nor are they unaware of the great merit it enjoys over the conventional model. Their membership of the United Nations (UN), which has primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security through collective security mechanism attests to the acceptance of the instrument of collective security. Some will argue, however that the countries of the sub-region remain willing members of the . UN because membership confers the status symbol of sovereign states on them. Many of the states are, however regular contributors of troops to the UN peace efforts. That the UN has not proved a solution to the security problems of the sub-region is not in doubt. It is a known fact that the Organisation's main financiers who constitute the world's power bloc, are always unwilling to commit their troops to African cause and are reluctant to approve funds for the missions they really do not believe in.
The Organisation of African Unity (OAU), on the other hand, "is the main organ at the regional level responsible, for the management of conflicts in Africa. The UN has essentially played a supportive role to OAU's initiative, only assuming control, as in the case of Western Sahara, when it was evident that the OAU could not cope with the problem".4 The Organiasation's objectives are stated as follows:5
1. To promote the unity and solidarity of the African States.
2. To coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa.
3. To defend their sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.
4. To eradicate all forms of colonialism from Africa.
5. To promote international cooperation, having due regard to the charter of the United Nations and the universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Considering the level of distrust among African nations, the paucity of resources available to the Organisation and the reluctance of extra -African powers to support development and security issues in Africa, it is amazing that the OAU achieved the much it did since its inception. Of course, with the clause on non-interference in the internal affairs of member states and the inviolability of pre-independence international boundaries, it is not surprising that the "little" achievement of the OAU was in the area of mediation in inter state conflicts. The OAU, however, made foray into intra state conflicts as in the case of Liberia but it ended in the realm of rhetorics.
Its organ for conflict resolution (The Commission on Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration), had to undergo three transformations to seek relevance. In its original form, no nation was willing to consult it; at least for the first eight years of the inception. As an adhoc body with the participation of Heads of State it made foray into conflict resolution with limited successes. By 1993 it underwent complete transformation with the induction of an early warning and monitoring mechanism to allow the OAU some pro-active capability. Inadequate financing, the low level of technology in the continent and the absence of political will all combined to reduce the effectiveness of the OAU in coping with the security challenges of the West African sub-region.
Unlike the OAU, the Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS) had no institutional arrangement for conflict resolution at its inception. The failure of the OAU, however, led some countries in the sub- region to enter into agreements of non-aggression and national assistance in matters of defence. These agreements are:
1. Agreement on Non-Aggression and Assistance in Defence (ANAD).
2. ECOWAS protocol on Mutual Assistance in Defence (MAD).
The arrangement that has now become known as ANAD was entered into in I June 1977 at Abidjan by seven francophone states -Burkina Faso, Cote f~ D'lvoire, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo. Notwithstanding the member states' belief that defence deperids on the sovereignty of each country, they also agree that defence would be more effective through a common organisation. At creation ANAD sought to safeguard the independence of member countries, ensure the security of the people, encourage economic and social development, and live in peace. It cannot be over-emphasised that ANAD was created on the basis of integrated security. Cote D'lvoire is the hub around which, ANAD rotates and it stands to the credit of the organisation that several conflicts between its members were amicably resolved. These include the Mali -Burkina Faso border conflict in 1985 and Senegal -Mauritania conflict of 1989. One major snag of ANAD is the perceptual fear of perceived dominance of Nigeria which explains its opposition to ECOWAS initiative in Liberia and the reluctance of ANAD to open up to non-francophone states. Nigeria's offer to mediate in the christmas war between Mali and Guinea 1986 was actually rebuffed.
ECOWAS was created to checkmate the polarisation of the sub-region along its colonial past. Although the organisation should serve as a bridge over the linguistic gap, its protocol on security (MAD) has not resulted in the dissolution of ANAD. Olu Adeniji avers that "the 2 Protocols by which ECOWAS ventured into the field of security arose out of a later realisation that for sub-re-gional economic co-operation, an atmosphere of peace and stability must pervade the area, and that unresolved disputes between member-states could escalate into armed conflicts"6. The 2 protocols the author refers to are (1) Protocol on Non Aggression, 1978 and (2) Agreement Relating to Mutual Assistance in Defence, 1981. These protocols, although never fully ratified "by the required number of states, provided the basis for ECOMOG intervention; first in Liberia and later in Sierra Leone. These interventions had gone to prove that "strengthened political relations, and co-operation for peace and mutual security are critical components for the required environment for regional co-operation and intergration"7.
The ECOMOG experiment in Liberia was a lesson to even the UN on the conduct of its entrenched role of peace enforcement, as against the forced responsibility of peace keeping that the organisation had pursued for 45 years or so. NA TO did not lose the opportunity of working on the principles that were proven when the Alliance had to implement the UN mandate in Bosnia Herzegovina. The intervention was however, not without sets back. The low level of technology and the inability of the forces in the sub-region to sustain operations logistically, were apparent and indeed, could have been responsible for the delay in finding solution to the crisis in Liberia. As it turned out, when the developed nations such as the United States concretised their pledges and ferried in materials, ECOMOG briskly enforced the cease-fire and the disarming programme"8.
Charting Security Role for Nigeria
At the first session of the ECOWAS standing mediation committee in Banjul from 7 -8 August 1990 it was resolved that a cease fire monitoring group should be established to create the necessary conditions for normal life to resume to the benefit of all Liberians. The MAD, which was adopted in 1981 did not however foresee the activation of the agreement in intra state role.
Article 4 of the Protocol states that "in a conflict between member states, the Authority of ECOWAS shall decide to send the Allied Armed Forces of the Community (AAFC) to interpose between the troops engaged in the conflict". This provision clearly concern inter-state conflicts. In fact, Article 18 (2) states that the "community force shall not intervene if the conflict remains purely internal since the essence of the Protocol is to provide for regional security and not to threaten the security of the region". The proviso was a hangover of the obsession by the immediate post independence African leaders for non-interference in the internal affairs of member states. It did not consider the spill-over effect of conflicts nor was it concerned with the not-too- precise demarcation between internal and external conflicts. In the Liberian case, one of the parties that opposed the defacto government raised and trained its forces from outside; was maintaining the troops from outside; and getting external support for the prosecution of the war. Furthermore, the . National Patriotic Forces of Liberia drew its strength from one of the trans border tribes and was indeed said to be in alliance with the Revolutionary United Forces of Sierra Leone, which it later went to assist in its own struggle against the government forces of that country .More-over, several nationalities were trapped by the war in Liberia and their safety was raising tension in many countries. In the light of these facts, it was easy for the protagonist of the intervention to justify their decision, just as the antagonist held on to the non-interference clause.
At its inception, ECOMOG drew forces from only five out of sixteen member states. These are Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone and the Gambia. Of the initial 6,000 man force, Nigeria contributed 3,500 and Ghana 2,000 with the others sending in token contingents. Apparently and in order to allay fears of Nigeria's domineering posture, the position of forces commander was ceded to Ghana, Guinea nominated the Deputy Commander and Nigeria filled the position of Chief of Staff. Later development compelled Nigeria not only to build up its force disproportionately to other contingents but also to take over the command in conformity with military tradition, where the largest contributor of combat forces provides the commander. One main feature of ECOMOG was that rather than the community, it was the participating countries that were to meet the financial burden of the operations. The francophone countries were reluctant to bear the cost, which indeed explained why only Guinea and Mali later participated. Nigeria paid the price including the supreme sacrifice of her 480 troops to bring peace to troubled Liberia.
The gesture was extended to Sierra Leone when in 1997 the democratically elected government of President Kabbah was overthrown by the Major Koromah led junta. The Nigerian contingent of ECOMOG was tasked to restore peace and democracy to that country. Again it took the sweat, blood and finances of Nigerians to create a basis of orderly governance in Sierra Leone, before the United Nations got cajoled by its Secretary General to at least relieve Nigeria of the financial burden. Even when ECOMOG gave way to the United Nations peacekeepers, four Nigerian battalions had to stay back and are still in Sierra Leone to carry on the yeoman's job of disarming the combatants. At the expense of being termed immodest, let me assert that, till today, it takes the Nigerian contingent to garrison the various fiash-points and that no disarmament takes place until the Nigerian soldiers are there. Participating in ECOMOG for Nigeria, is a continuation of the country's Afrocentric foreign policy. Indeed, "Nigeria has pursued the creation of regional and sub-regional organisations as a means of pooling efforts and resources for the achievement of enduring political and economic goals"9.
Nigeria rightly believes that West Africa's instability is a function of poverty and underdevelopment. But in solving what appear purely political and economic problems, the physical challenges also have to be addressed. Whenever Nigeria makes calculated political, social, economic and military gestures to individual states or groups of states in West Africa, she is ipso facto addressing the security problems of the sub-region.
Nigeria is not by global standard a rich country .Within West Africa, and when you consider the human resources development index and the par capital income, a few states even rate higher than Nigeria. Yet, her ability to influence events in West Africa and even globally is not in doubt. The power rating is a function of several factors, generally referred to as elements of national power. When you analyse elements such as geography, population, natural resources, national character, national morale, military preparedness, industrial capacity, quality of diplomacy and government, you cannot but rate Nigeria head and shoulder higher than all other countries in the sub-region. At least the potential is so great and visible that extra-African powers respect Nigeria's views, at least, on African affairs. Indeed, Nigeria readily stands apart in the sub-region in the possession of power attributes and potential harnessing.
This towering image of Nigeria, however, adds another dimension to the security dilemma in the sub-region. Independent West African States are not prepared to replace the colonial yoke with the Nigerian burden. Thus the francopohone states in particular and other countries in the sub-region in general view Nigeria with scepticism and suspicion. They therefore enter into some other forms of security arrangements for their self pride and protection.
Even when they appreciate some of Nigeria's good gestures, there is always the fear of a perceived hegemon lurking around the corner. But then every alliance needs a hegemon for success, just as the wheel needs the hub to propel the spokes. What would NATO do without the United States? What was Warsaw Pact without the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) and why did the Pact crumble when USSR dissolved? What is ANAD without Cote D'lvoire and what is ECOMOG without Nigeria? West African States must face two realities. First, the need to establish a security regime for the sub-region is inevitable if the sub-region and its component states are to develop. Secondly, a hegemon is required to propel the security regime and Nigeria fits into that description. ,
The countries in the sub-region should not imagine that they can function in a world island. As the world constricts into a single large family or village in the globalisation process, which is driven by the twin engine of liberalisation and privatisation, it is feared that the already strong will become stronger and the weak may have to struggle even more strongly to merely survive. West Africa and indeed Africa have no regional or sub-regional grouping for the effective propagation of common interests. The African Union project, is a step in the right direction while the integration process in West Africa including the common currency project, requires acceleration. Whether we talk of the African Union or an integrated West Africa, the need for Nigeria to act and act big, cannot be over emphasised.
Nigeria, no doubt, enjoys a rising profile in the global scene but then her fortunes are inextricably linked to the fortunes of states in the sub region in several ways. First, there is the recurring issue of transborder tribes, which juxtaposes the values and interests of a significant proportion of Nigeria's population with those of Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroun. These other countries also have linkages that spread throughout the sub-region. Secondly, there is the itinerant nature of some Nigerian tribes which has resulted in large concentration of Nigerians in countries such as Cote D'lvoire, Ghana, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Niger, Benin etc. Conflicts in these countries would have spill-over effect on Nigeria, beside the direct consequences to Nigerians living in those countries. The spectacle of millions of refugees at Nigeria's doorstep is too frightening to contemplate. Thirdly there is the similarity in agricultural products of countries in the sub-region which demands the concerted efforts of the states, if the communities are to attract good prices and market for these goods globally. Fourthly, there is the existence of the ECOWAS Protocol on movement of persons, which already permits cross border migrations, even if for limited period. Unless and until an effective machinery is put in place to monitor these movements, the problems posed by the protocol could soon obliterate the merits. Finally, the global trend towards regional and sub-regional groupIng cannot be reversed in a less significant segment of the globe. If anything, countries in the sub- region need to harness their various national attributes in order to cope with growing instability, endemic coup d'etat, environmental problems etc .10
Nigeria's commitment to the security of West Africa will not be without sacrifices. The ECOMOG experiment shows that apart from the financial burden, the nation may have to shed sweat and blood for the good of others. There is enough evidence that the nation's leadership appreciates these and has the will to press on. But the charge of being overbearing coming from the elites of the other countries is sufficiently discouraging. Perhaps Nigerians should take solace from the fact that most of the critics who proffer this charge do not truly represent the views of the citizens of their respective countries. There can be no doubt that the Nation is viewed with awesomeness within the sub-region but this should be expected from a people who revere greatness. Nevertheless, there is need for humility by Nigerians and the public commentators on regional affairs, on how they sing to high heavens, the modest achievement of the country towards integrating the sub-region.
Strategic Options for Nigeria and West Africa
When ECOWAS was established through the Treaty of Lagos in May 1975, it set out to achieve a definite objective which states "To promote co-operation and development in all fields of economic activity for the purpose of raising the standard of living of its peoples, of increasing and maintaining economic stability, of fostering closer relations among its members and of contributing to the progress and development of the African continent".11 The founding fathers may have assumed the capacity of each country either individually, or in concert with chosen allies, to provide the enabling political and physical security environment for economic activities to blossom. The tortuous path of development since then should have convinced everyone of the wisdom in McNamara's assertion that "in a modernising society, security means development. Security is not military hardware, though it may include it; security is not military force, though it may involve it; security is not traditional military activity, though it may encompass it. Security is development, and without development, there can be no security."12 I am convinced the author is not saying that development comes before security. That will be a question of which comes first, the chicken or the egg. Rather it is to emphasise the intertwined and inseparable relationship between security and development. In essence, the developing countries of West Africa need security to develop and must develop to achieve security.
In going about the task of achieving these inseparable goals, it is clear from the analysis so far, that individual countries cannot achieve much. The commonality of interest derived from colonial experience, the prevalence of poverty and weak national military outfits, should at least, encourage the states to take common positions at continental and global fora. It is, therefore, clear that the criteria for effective collective security arrangement in West Africa are present. These factors are "Congruent world views; recent on going experience of cooperation in some field; satisfaction with the territorial status quo; and the cost -benefit ratio for military action as a means for achieving greater national power"13. It is again apparent that segregation within the sub-region on the basis of linguistics, at best, only achieves minimum success when the experiences of ANAD and MAD are considered. Also crucial is the dwindling support from erstwhile external sponsors and the change in the course of action by the super powers.
The choice before West African Countries, therefore, is really the extent to which they can go in the inevitable integration drive; and here there are two options. The first option is to embrace fully, the concept of African Union and regard the various countries as forming the second layer of the continental security hierarchy. For those who dread the domineering position of Nigeria, this option could provide checks and balances with equally potentially great nations like South Africa and Egypt playing a vital role. And for Nigeria that is already counting the loss of bearing all the burdens, again the fact that South Africa, Egypt and a few other countries would share in the responsibility is soothing. The pool to draw experience and power from, is made richer while the market for the Union products, becomes wider. There are of course, some hiccups. It should not be easily forgotten that our Magreb brothers differ markedly in many respects. The dual focus to Africa and the Middle East may well affect the articulation of the Union's interests. The true zone of turmoil around the Great Lake region would, for the foreseeable future arrest the attention of the world and the Union and may throw the problems of West African States into some insignificance. The pace of development in South Africa could be too fast for others, but cannot be slowed down and that also means some hiccups in the pursuit of the Union's agenda.
The second option available to West African countries is to create another layer of security regime for the sub-region where common values and interests are harvested for proper articulation at the Continental Union level. This option entails the strengthening of ECOWAS, its reconfiguration and refocus to pursue the dual agenda of security and development for West Africa; adopting the integrated approach. The snag with this option is that the perceived fear of Nigeria will persist, as well as the resource constraints. Against these snags can be arrayed the criteria of mutuality and geographical proximity and the factors of culture, religion and race which distinguish West Africa as a security complex. Of course, the snags can be ameliorated by the intervention of the Union authority, which will still constitute the apex of the African security arrangement.
If Nigeria becomes the issue in charting the strategic course for West Africa, then the way the nation goes about discharging her security role is as critical as the role itself. A number of assumptions could guide the country in formulating strategies to ease the discharge of functions. First, in spite of the UN retaining responsibility for global security, the trend towards regional and sub-regional security regime is irreversible and would sooner than later be embraced by all nations in the sub region. Secondly, the commitment of developed nations to African states will continue to dwindle, thus freeing the recipient countries to now take national decisions as regards their security.
Thirdly, there is a genuine fear of Nigeria as the dominant force in the sub- region and this must be addressed. Finally, the level of military preparedness in the region needs to be commensurate with the criteria of threat, objectives and resource constraint, in order to ease multinational intervention. Besides only Nigeria has the desired military force at the moment.
The choice before Nigeria is not between being militarist, to showcase its power potential or being pacifist, to humble herself before the accusers. The former instills fear and hatred and the latter ignores the need to sometimes let off some steam in order to make a point. The pendulum must swing with the security tide between militarism and pacifism; using force against force and preaching peace to the listening ears. In essence, Nigeria's role could be discharged using the facilitative, initiatory and interventionist approaches. The facilitative approach implies Nigeria employing her reservoir of goodwill to get parties to conflicts to the round table. This approach is dependent on several factors. First, that there is an effective early warniflg and monitoring mechanism to forestall conflicts from reaching crisis point before conciliatory moves are made. Secondly, that Nigeria is reasonably placed to have access to such mechanism as to enhance the understanding of issues at conflict. Thirdly that Nigeria has enough influence on all parties to the conflict to elicit willing listening. Fourthly, that issues at stake are not irreconcilable and not in conflict with the sub-regional interests.
The second approach is the initiatory approach, which becomes mandatory when one or more conditions for facilitative approach is absent. Where for instance, Nigeria does not have the clout with a party to the dispute and/or has not all the information necessary to appreciate the issues at stake, the country may yet initiate conciliatory moves by getting a third party that is better placed, sufficiently interested in seeking solution to the security problem. Facilities could be put at the disposal of those better placed to achieve result; in the overall interest of the sub region.
Another viable option is the interventionist approach which, simply put is militaristic. A party to conflict may be eminently wrong but having superior elements of power, attempts to impose its will on another party, which is indeed pursuing the sub-regional interests. Where attempts at facilitating or initiating conciliatory moves fail, only two options are open. One to condone the cliche that "might is right" and thereafter encourage military build-up within the sub-region so that states or parties can individually protect their rights. Two. To subscribe to the dictum that " when might is right, the higher might succeeds to its right". This latter dictum would mean that Nigeria at all material times should have such capability that its role as the hub that propels the wheel is not altered. This approach entails taking other nations along when necessary and being visibly correct in adjudging who and what is right. Try as much as Nigeria will, its adoption could give rise to charges of playing the sub-regional policeman. But a policeman is a friend and without him the society would be in a mess. As to which of the three approaches should apply, the security atmosphere at any given time must be allowed to determine that.
The transformations in Europe sequel to the cessation of the cold war are altering the conventional approach to security, allover the world. For some, if not all West African countries, the trend means lowering in their strategic rating, and perhaps a loss in external support. It is just as well that West Africa embraces the concept of regional and sub-regional security that is indeed the vogue in the emerging world order. Our analysis shows that the sub-region has all it takes to establish an effective collective security mechanism congruent world views; a recent or ongoing experience in some field; satisfaction with the territorial status quo; and the cost benefit ratio of military action as a means for achieving greater national power.
The sub-region has had a try at some arrangements apart from being active participant in the UN and the OAU. ANAD was for a select few and MAD could not carry the entire members along but both recorded remarkable successes and could have done better, given the co-operation of all. Both mechanisms also confirm the need for a hegemon to propel the security regime -Cote D'lvoire in case of ANAD and Nigeria in case of ECOMOG (MAD). Clearly Nigeria stands on higher ground to perform that role when a single sub-regional mechanism gets started. Somehow there is the mutual distrust to overcome but given the will and desire to succeed, a West African Security arrangement with Nigeria as the propellant, should give the sub- region its two most desired but inseparable commodities-development and secu rity .
1. Salmon T.C. The nature of International Security in Cavey, and Salmon T.C (eds) International Security in the Modern World (New York: St Martinis Press, 19992).
2. Deutsch, Karl at al; Political Community and the North Atlantic Area (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957) quoted in Thomas A. Weiss (ed) Collective Security in a Changing World (London: Lynns Reinner Publishers, Inc; 1993) P. 154.
3. Boutrous -Ghali, Agenda for Peace.
4. Imobighe, T.A.: Conflict in Africa: Roles of OAU and sub-Regional Organisations, lecture brief at the National War College of Nigeria, February 19, 1998 P .3.
5. Article 2 of the OAU as reproduced in the Daily Times, Lagos Nigeria, 19 January 1981.
6. Adeniji, Olu "Mechanism for Conflict Management in West Africa: Politics of Harmonisation", in African Strategic and Peace Research Group ., (AFSTRAC) Report on the Workshop on Conflict Management in West Africa, 21st --24th May, 1999 (Ogere Nigeria: Training and Conference Centre ), p. 33.
7. ibid p. 38.
8. Enahoro, Dave "Multinational Military Intervention: The Liberian Experiment" in Garuba, C.A. (ed). International Peace and Security: the Nigerian Contribution, (ABUJA: National War College, 1997) p. 145.
9. Ochoche S.A, "Changing Concept of International Peace and Security in Garuba, C.A., (ed) op cit. P. 26.
10. See Colonel LO Ajiamah's project "ECOWAS Security Environment: challenges to Nigeria" submitted to National War College, Nigeria 1998.
11. See ECOWAS Treaty of Lagos, May 1995.
12. McNamara, Robert S, The Essence of Security (New York: Harper and Row, 1968) p. 149
13. Farar, Tom J, "Role of Regional Collective Arrangements" in Thomas G. Weiss (ed) op cit p. 159.
Theophilus Y. Danjuma,a retired army general and former defence minister of Nigeria is a respected military officer
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