We congratulate Nigeria as it assumes the Presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of April 2014. Nigeria returns to the Security Council, just two years after it completed a two-year non-permanent term (2010 – 2011). This is a demonstration of its clout within its sub region – West Africa – whose geographic seat it occupies on the Security Council, as well as at the continental and the international levels. It is a foreign policy feat of immense proportion. Nigeria is not only the fourth largest global troop contributor to United Nations peace operations, it has also recently demonstrated its diplomatic acumen in helping to find solutions to the conflicts in Guinea-Bissau, Cote D’Ivoire and Mali. However, in returning to the Security Council, it is confronted with a higher bar than when it was last in the Security Council. Nigeria now follows the patterns set by Argentina, Brazil (Latin America), India, Pakistan (Asia) and South Africa (Southern Africa). These countries, like Nigeria, are aspirants for permanent seats on a future expanded Security Council. Whether their quests will be realized or not in a reform of the Security Council fraught with uncertainties, the fact remains that concrete achievements while on the Security Council will be a sine qua non to achieving their aspirations.
The challenges confronting Nigeria are enormous. As a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Nigeria has to demonstrate its capacity to put its house in order. As Richard Haass eloquently said in his recent book, foreign policy begins at home. This implies finding a solution to the security threat posed by the Boko Haram insurgency, while also reassuring the international community that the manner of confronting this phenomenon is consistent with international standards. It also has to demonstrate that it continues to maintain domestic political and economic stability as it prepares for elections in 2015 while it sits on the Security Council. Violence has always followed elections in Nigeria and the 2015 elections will not be an exception. It would be catastrophic for a member of the Security Council to be plunged into a domestic violence or conflict, as was the case with Rwanda in 1994 when a violent crisis erupted in that country. This would be a set back for any aspirant to a permanent membership on the Security Council.
With Egypt in turmoil and South Africa trying to get its bearings after the demise of Nelson Mandela, Nigeria as one of the three aspirants in Africa for a permanent seat is confronted with the daunting task of filling the leadership vacuum in Africa. As the most populous country in Africa, with the second largest continental economy, Nigeria working collaboratively with other African countries, need to continue to demonstrate the capacity to lead.
Shola J. Omoregie