'Leader of Africa' image is tarnished: Chaos over election threatens Nigeria's United Nations Council aspirations
Monday 28 June 1993
ABIDJAN (agencies) - Nigeria's main foreign policy goal and the image it seeks to project as a champion of black interests were both in bad shape this weekend. The military regime's refusal to accept the result of the 12 June presidential election may do enormous damage to the country's international relations, foreign and African analysts fear.
While African leaders kept an embarrassed silence, Nigeria's dominant allies and partners, the United States and Britain, expressed their shock and anger in public statements.
Officials of the two countries said their governments felt betrayed by General Ibrahim Babangida, the military president, who still insists he will leave office as planned on 27 August.
'We have no wish to punish the people of Nigeria, but it is essential that we bring home to this undemocratic military government the united view that democracy and public accountability are essential in the sound development of any nation,' said Baroness Chalker, Minister for Overseas Development.
'If Nigeria's military leaders continue down this undemocratic path then they will do so alone, without donor support,' added Lady Chalker. 'International observers, including our own British MPs, were satisfied that the elections had been free and fair.'
'We trusted him,' a Western diplomat said, trying to measure the likely economic and diplomatic fall-out from Gen Babangida's intervention.
It stopped the millionaire Moshood Abiola from being declared the winner of an election which foreign and Nigerian observers said was the fairest in the country's history.
Analysts said Nigeria's long-standing ambition to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council now looked absurd. 'Forget it. That is out of the window,' a Western ambassador serving in West Africa said.
Nigeria's UN campaign, the centre-piece of its foreign policy, was already uphill work. But it was making progress and the case for an African representative could have been overwhelming if, as may happen, the Security Council's permanent membership is expanded from the present five.
Nigeria's official policy for many years has been that its population of nearly 90 million makes it uniquely qualified to defend the interests of blacks everywhere - whether in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean or Africa. 'They have certainly tarnished that image,' a US diplomat said.
The outside world, when it thinks about Nigeria at all, often focuses on violence, corruption and drug smuggling. This image reflects only part of the truth about a dynamic and entrepreneurial society with few of the post-colonial hang-ups that still cripple elites in many African countries.
Only Nigerian journalists could write, as they often do, about 'our great virile nation'. Nigerian claims to leadership have depended on Gen Babangida's avowed commitment since 1985 to return to civilian rule. That was what set him apart from African leaders such as Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko who have defied international pressure to accept democracy.
Many hopes were pinned on Nigeria. Optimists said a successful handover by the army would restore belief in Africa and silence those who have all but written off the continent.
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 2 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 3 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 4 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Russell Brand opposes anti-Semitism after death threats: 'We must disavow all forms of prejudice that lead to exclusion and execution'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Microbial life found living on the exterior of the International Space Station, say reports
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...