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UN Security Council Reform:
Making a Case for Africa’s Giant, Nigeria

By Mac-edwin Obi (Nigeria)


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    When Kofi Annan, former UN scribe proposed a reform of the UN Security Council, he probably had Nigeria in mind! In over sixty years of the UN, only five founding nations-the US, the UK, France, Russia and China have occupied permanent seats of the Security Council. There may be a genuine reason for this-at the time, World War II had just ended and the earlier-mentioned nations were instrumental in stopping rampaging Germany and its equally powerful ally, Japan. But the world has changed immensely since then. Asian Tigers (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia etc.)are now the toast of the business world; Africa is attracting more attention from the developed world in issues of politics and natural resources; oil has made the Middle East race up the importance ladder; all these have necessitated a change in the world order and this must reflect in the Security Council, the world’s police.
    Other parts of the world and indeed Africa deserve a permanent place in the Security Council. Moreso, Nigeria must have a seat if due process is followed despite opposition from South Africa and Egypt. Both nations want to cash in on their superior economies to sideline Nigeria. This article will explain why Nigeria should have one of the two permanent seats allotted to Africa.

What Really Qualifies a Nation for a Permanent Seat on the UN Security Council?
    Have you ever spared a thought for the reason Nigerians are found everywhere on the face of the earth? Now this is why: there are 140 million Nigerians in an Africa of 690 million, approximately one in five Africans is a Nigerian! As if that is not enough, Nigerians travel most after the Jews! Though no scientific finding supports this claim, observation at the different embassies and even illegal transit routes across the world prove this. Based on the size of the nation, a permanent seat on the UN Security Council will impact most on the largest number of Africans.
    Location is yet another plus for Nigeria. Prominently fixed somewhere in the `trigger` of Africa, Nigeria is centrally located that all Africans have easy access to the country. With a permanent Security Council Seat and the burgeoning economy of Nigeria, Africans will benefit most from the strategic positioning of Nigeria. Definitely Nigeria will become all sorts of conferences, seminars, workshops etc. and its location will be beneficial as all Africans can reach it with ease.
    Democracy is back in Nigeria and order and stability is almost nine solid years old. In the past, our detractors claimed we were a pariah state-unstable and bound to fail. Though democracy is an ingredient for discharging the duties of a permanent member of the Security Council creditably, no rule says only democratic nations can be on the Security Council as permanent members. At the moment three out of five permanent members of the Security Council are fully democratic states. The fourth, Russia is in `democracy` but complaints of anti-democratic tendencies are rife. China has never been a democracy. And if China can be on the UN security watchdog since its founding as a permanent member,`undemocratic`, then Nigeria can also occupy a permanent seat on the council!
    Apart from India, no other nation has embarked on peacekeeping more than Nigeria. The Security Council is about security and peace in the world. It is not about sound economy or democracy. It is about making sacrifices to bring peace to nations of the world. The blood of Nigeria troops watered the peace being enjoyed in Sierra Leone, Liberia etc. Even efforts to bring peace to Darfur have received wonderful imputs from Nigeria. It took Nigeria’s offer of amnesty to the then Liberian leader, Charles Taylor for the war to end. Nigeria has camps till today where many refugees from these war-ravaged nations still live. Fine military equipment has been lost by the Nigerian armed forces in defence of the common people of Liberia and Sierra Leone. At present, the commander of the UN/AU Mission in Darfur is a former Nigerian defence chief, who left his cozy office and other perks of his job to perform to help solve one of the most vexatious crises in the world today. Sometimes, ask myself `Is Nigeria the only African country? Hasn’t she shown more than brotherly love? What gains does she get from all these charitable efforts?
    Former Nigerian leader, Olusegun Obasanjo proved his mettle as a peace-loving leader. He was AU chairman, Commonwealth chairperson-in-office, NEPAD Implementation Committee chair at different times. It is on record that he is the only leader in recent times who by sheer use of diplomacy restored a deposed leader in another country (Sao Tome& Principe). The first talks that would have ended the now full-blown crisis in western Sudan were presided over by him. He, on behalf of Nigerians showed that with Nigeria clinching a permanent seat, the world will know peace.
    Nigeria would have been guaranteed a permanent seat if not for the opposition from South Africa and Egypt. South Africa claims it has the best economy in Africa, best infrastructures, is a part of the commonwealth realm and a stable democracy. Egypt on the other hand flaunts its ancient history, good infrastructures and an economy that is not doing badly. Some keen observers of this whole struggle for permanent seats of the Council have made some revelations that have thrown spanner in the works of Egypt and South Africa. While they claim that Egypt may be influenced by its Arab inclination if it gets the seat, South Africa is believed to be a neophyte having just come out of an anti-democratic era (apartheid) (Radio Nigeria News Commentary, June 2008). Its democracy is almost as old as Nigeria’s! So, the issue eventually boils down to one factor-passion to ensure a peaceful world and Nigeria holds an unassailable first there.