Lagos — Former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow Morocco to join the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS).
Anyaoku made the call in Lagos yesterday while delivering the second annual Akintola Williams Foundation's lecture titled: 'Re-establishing Nigeria's Leadership Position in the World'.
According to him, allowing Morocco to be a member of ECOWAS would further erode the influence of Nigeria in the sub-region.
He also said ECOWAS is a regional block established to cater for the interest of West African countries and that Morocco being in northern Africa did not qualify to be a member.
The former diplomat pointed out that Nigeria's loss of grip in ECOWAS was dramatised by its inability to veto the ECOWAS's decision in principle to admit into its fold Morocco, a North African nation and member of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU).
He noted that Nigeria helped to found and nourish ECOWAS for the past 42 years diplomatically, economically, financially and militarily at huge financial and human cost to itself.
According to Anyaoku, "Nigeria's loss of grip in ECOWAS was dramatised by its inability to veto the ECOWAS's decision in principle to admit into its fold Morocco, a North African nation and member of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU).
"With the prospect of Morocco joining the ECOWAS, Nigeria would be risking a diminished influence in the sub-region; it would also be opening itself up to Morocco's inevitable determination to get its pound of flesh following Nigeria's role in the admission of Western Sahara into the OAU/AU. And this is not to talk about the adverse economic consequences for Nigeria from Morocco's membership of ECOWAS.
"I believe that for its effectiveness and benefits of the future integration of its members, ECOWAS must remain a strictly geopolitical regional organisation whose membership should be limited to only countries in the West Africa geographic space. Besides, extending ECOWAS membership to the Mediterranean Sea will inevitably dilute the organisation's integration movement."
The former secretary general lamented that currently, all is not well with Nigeria both at home and abroad and that its standing among the comity of nation is bad, hence the people are no longer respected all over the world.
"Unfortunately, Nigeria's leadership role in the world began to decline initially in the wake of the successive military intervention in the country's governance in January 1966. I would like to mention some of the signs of the decline.
"Nigeria does not have a seat in the leadership organ of the AU-the ten-member commission. It was a matter of national embarrassment that the Nigerian candidate lost out in the election of the AU Commissioners during the AU summit meeting in February 2017.
"Secondly, a growing number of Nigerian citizens are now commonly badly treated and deported from many countries of the world including even African countries such as Libya and South Africa. And only last week, Nigerian athletes who were due to participate in a Commonwealth Youth Games in Bahamas could not attend because they were denied transit visas by the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States," Ayaoku stated.
He said the decline in Nigeria's standing in the world prompted a former American ambassador to Nigeria, who many believe to be a good friend of Nigeria, at a colloquium in Brown University, US, to lament the de-industrialisation of the country and to warn that "Nigeria was fast becoming irrelevant in continental and global affairs owing to its unfocussed leadership and wrong choice of assessment parameters."
Anyaoku stressed that Ambassador Lyman went on to say that Nigeria's habit of predicating its geopolitical relevance on its oil wealth and population is fast fading away not just because oil is losing its strategic relevance, but also because many countries in the West African sub-region have struck oil in commercial quantity.
"The plight of Nigerians in the waves of Afro-phobia in South Africa is particularly regrettable because, as observed earlier, Nigeria had played a very active and prominent role in the struggle that led to the dismantling of apartheid in that country."
As part of efforts to revise this trend, Anyaoku suggested that there should be a nexus between nation's foreign policy and domestic politics. "No country can maintain a credible leadership position regionally, continentally or globally without a politically stable and sound socio-economic domestic background.
"And so for any country to be able to exert a credible influence and maintain a leadership position to be reckoned with in world affairs, it must achieve a reasonable balance between its domestic and foreign policies," he said.
He insisted that every country's standing in the world is to a large extent determined by its domestic situation, adding that "If Nigeria is to return to the golden age of the country's foreign policy achievements and high global standing, its domestic situation must be fixed.
At the lecture which was instituted in honour of Akintola Williams, the doyen of the accounting profession and Nigeria's first chartered accountant, the Chairman of the occasion, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, who was Anyaoku's successor as foreign minister said consensus all over the nation is that Nigeria as a country should continue to exist and also reestablished its position as the giant of Africa.
Gambari said that some people called the country a mere geographical expression, saying that the truth remains that countries the world over are mere geographical expression but the people who came worked to make it a nation.