10th Rabi-ul-awwal, 1436AH (1st January, 2015)

Nigeria’s Federal Government openly traded off its conscience last Tuesday night at the United Nations Security Council meeting where voting on a proposed resolution to stop Israeli occupation of West Bank area of Palestine took place.

The resolution was to be an historic resolution of the 66 year old Israeli/Palestinian conflict with a view to paving way for a two Nation solution thereby ventilating a peaceful atmosphere for the Middle East.

At the meeting where the 15 member nations of the Security Council were to vote either for Israeli withdrawal or continuous occupation of the area, nine votes were to form the simple majority required to liberate the Palestinians from the political siege of Israel.

Of those 15 member nations, eight voted in favour of the liberation while two voted for continuous Israeli siege on Palestine. The eight nations that voted for the latter’s liberation were Argentina, Chad, Chile, China, France, Jordan, Luxembourg and Russia. Those that voted against liberation were the United States and Australia.

The five remaining countries that opted for mischievous abstention were Lithuania, South Korea, Rwanda, Britain and Nigeria. The hypocritical aspect of this was that prior to the commencement of voting, Nigeria spoke glowingly in favour of Palestine’s autonomy a speech that gave the impression and hope that Nigeria, in consistency with her well known foreign policy, would make another landmark history by paving way for the autonomy of the oppressed Palestinian Statehood.

But to the amazement and perhaps disappointment of most members of the Security Council including those who voted to block the Palestinian human rights, Nigerian government betrayed that glory as its negative decision became pivotal to UN’s rejection of the long awaited resolution that would have brought peace to the Middle East. USA needed no veto with the wicked hands of those at the helm of foreign affairs in Nigeria.

The draft of the resolution had outlined several parameters for some proposed solutions including a one-year deadline for negotiation with Israel and a full but phased withdrawal of Israeli forces from the West Bank by the end of 2017. If passed, this would have paved the way for Palestine to become a full UN Member State within the 12-month time frame but this did not happen at the instance of Nigeria.

The anxiety created by ill-motivated and satanic abstention of Nigeria had put a global diplomatic focus on Nigeria being an African champion of liberation movements in the past. It will be recalled that Nigeria’s role in championing the cause of liberation especially for African countries in the past was legendary.

The tenacity of such role (during the cold war years) as a vital part of Nigeria’s foreign policy that aided the independence of countries like South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Algeria and others had once pitched the country against the imperialistic tendencies of some Western countries.

It was against such imperialistic tendency that Nigeria’s federal government under General Yakubu Gowon broke diplomatic relation with Israel for 18 years from 1967 to 1985 when the Military President Ibrahim Babangida restored that relation. In those years, religion was not at all in consideration as the issue of liberation was seen purely as a humanitarian affair which deserved human feeling rather than sheer political contention. It is sad that Nigerian Government has unfortunately allowed its divisive domestic policies to negatively affect its once vibrant foreign policy.

For a long time, Palestine had been in the league of oppressed and suppressed countries, outside Africa, seeking a way out of the shackles of imperialism.  Some other countries in that league were Bosnia, Kashmir and Kurdistan and Nigeria’s front line role in assisting them to secure independence was historic. But of all of these countries, only Bosnia has become partially independent.

Thus, through her consistency in human face foreign policy, Nigeria had earned tremendous prestige in the comity of nations and this had earned her the appellation of ‘Giant of Africa’ which she still enjoys today as a special privilege.

Now, by deviating from that highly prestigious foreign policy and by pitching its tent with the imperialist countries the government seems to have sacrificed conscience on the platter of unwarranted and irrelevant bias against religious persuasion of majority of the persecuted Palestinians. It is also a reflection of the situation at home in Nigeria under the current regime.

We can recall the fortuitous diplomatic visit of Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to Nigeria among other African countries in June 2014 in preparation for this unfortunate betrayal. We also remember the seeming reciprocation by President Jonathan as he headed a 30000 man Christian pilgrimage to Jerusalem recently, during which he held a diplomatic tete a tete with the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahoo of Israel.

If such clandestine moves were secret while being hatched, their outcome as exposed by last Tuesday’s pattern of voting at the UN Security Council meeting were not. The implication of this is that such a clandestine decision by the federal government has become a dangerous precedent that can query the future of Nigeria’s foreign policy with a big question mark. It has clearly shown Nigeria as a country that can sacrifice conscience in her search for imperialists’ favour.

The NSCIA unequivocally condemns this retrogressive act which has permanently stained the humanitarian credentials of the Nation.

We urge all Nigerians, not necessarily Muslims alone, since the issue at stake transcends religion, to condemn this treacherous act of the Federal Government and compel the Government to return to the path of justice and freedom. We urge the Government to discard the self serving advice of boot lickers and bigots who currently act as its unofficial foreign affairs advisors.

 God bless our country!

Prof. Is-haq O. Oloyede, OFR, FNAL, FNIM
Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA)