I guess there is truth in Professor Akinyeye's assertion. However, one of the things that continues to worry me, is that during the hey days of the Murtala Muhammed regime the phrase "Africa will be the centerpiece of Nigeria's foreign policy" came to dominate government policies. Then Nigeria played a formidable role in the fight against apartheid in South Africa, through funding and training the African National Congress (ANC) students in her institutions of learning, supported the fight for Namibia's Independence, especially SWAPO, and was involved in the Angola and Mozambican crises, thus sanctioning that position. Thus, it is agonizing that years latter, when one should suppose that Nigeria's position regarding Africa's issues should have crystallized as a respectable and independent force and voice, we have now become a parodized elongation of Western foreign policies and interests. How long should this continue?
It is ironic that no long ago, under the dictator General Sani Abacha, in spite of the harsh rhetoric, the US cringed when the dictator threatened to drive American oil interests out and hand their establishments over to the French and Italian. In South Africa, President Clinton, in spite of the earlier pressuppositions of Sandy Rice, averred that he would accept Sani Abacha even if it were a charade. The issue here was clear. Abacha was considered as ruthless and determined and was perceived as capable of truncating America's investment in Nigeria.
He sent a clear message when he changed the street where the American embassy was located to Louis Farrakhan street, after the street in Washington, D.C where the Nigerian embassy was changed to Kudirat Abiola street.
The point here is not that the despotic reactions of the Abacha era are credenced as positive, but rather his determined stand and the impetus he gave to Nigeria as a sovereign polity, capable of making her choices, regardless of external rumblings, posited Nigeria relevantly in the issues of foreign affairs. Now, I remember that when the Abacha's junta was sanctioned from traveling to the US and other Western nations, his reaction was that he did not need and has no desire to travel anywhere, thus finding that sanction personally harmless. But can the Obasanjo administration where his son is alleged to have over $230million in US banks, or the various governors whose stolen wealths are being deposited in Western banks able to stand up against such decisions? Yes, I know that Sani Abacha, though he never traveled cultivated ingenious ways of still depositing our national fund in these banks anyway? Obasanjo has to explain to the Nigerian people why our nation has become so a weakling in responding to certain overtures and political pressures. However, having noted that I am of the opinion that Charles Taylor is a dangerous criminal, who has in the past destroyed Nigerian lives and properties, especially of Nigerian citizens in Liberia during his war, killed our two journalists, and was merciless against Nigerian ECOMOG soldiers, and as such has been rightly denounced by General John Shagaya (First ECOMOG Commander) as unfit to be offered sanctuary by Nigeria. Therefore, justice should be appropriately melted to him. However, what is troubling is that it is not the criminality of Charles Taylor against his people or Sierra Leoneans or any West Africans for that matter (not even American, whose seven nuns were murdered by his troops in the 1990s) that belie the present attempt to bring him to justice. It is because his assumed relationship with rogue forces, especially of Al Queda that America now wants him.
In 1989, the same Americans deserted the Liberians to their fate, when they hopped their citizens into their planes and left the warring country, as if the lives of the common Liberians did not matter. Where it not for Nigeria, and the millions of dollars, and thousand of lives we spent there on ECOMOG, and the 1997 election sponsored by Nigeria, the country would have long been decimated. Therefore, I think Nigeria has a right and a stake in the matter in deciding what happens in Liberia, because it has always been involved there, long prior to the Americans showing serious interests, and interests that only emerged when it was discovered that militant Islamists were hiding their money buying blood diamonds from agents of Charles Taylor.