By John Moyibi Amoda
Vanguard of Thursday, July 14, 2011 carried a story on its front page headlined, “France to partner Nigeria on security”. The specifics of this offer by France’s ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Jean Michel Dumond, include “a readiness to help Nigeria deal with the many insecurity situations threatening the stability of the country.
Mr. Dumond, meeting with the Senate President David Mark Wednesday, July 13, 2011, “noted that France was concerned about the insecurity in Nigeria, and assured that his country will partner Nigeria in the area of peacekeeping, security and stability of the West African sub-region. He said “The French Government is worried about the recent unrest in Nigeria and would therefore contribute her quota towards arresting the menace”.
France as reported above offered to partner Nigeria in two distinct geographical areas namely in:
1.The West African sub-region;
The first specified collaboration in peacekeeping, security and stability of the West African sub-region- a task that assumes a stable and secure Nigeria; the second specified collaboration with the Nigerian government in dealing with insecurity in Nigeria. The first collaboration is in an inter-state partnership; while the second is intra-state. The parameters of the first are different from those of the second.
In the first, both France and Nigeria are third parties to the conflicts that the partnership will address. In the second, pertaining to Nigeria’s internal security, France is the third party. It is evident that third parties assume their own security and stability in their mediation of conflicts between contending parties, and understand that their mediations are to facilitate peace made by parties in conflict.
They can therefore present themselves as “honest brokers” of the peace that only parties in conflict can make. This is not the same as France’s offer to partner with government resolving Nigeria’s internal security matters. France’s role in Nigeria is structurally partisan- and it implies France’s offer to partner the Nigerian government in establishing a second secure and stable society providing an order that can be defended sustainably in the medium and long-term. In this partnership, France undertakes to assist the government in Nigeria in its endeavour to create an order that can be secured by Nigeria upon the termination of the partnership.
The challenge in this offer is that France cannot rely on its experience of creating governable orders in its sphere of state making. It has no relevance on-the-shelf expertise of creating political orders in Nigeria. Nigeria’s internal security challenges involve Nigerian parties in conflict. France offer to partner with Nigeria boils down to an offer to intervene in Nigeria’s national security conflicts as a partisan of the Nigerian government.
For that partnership to work, the Nigerian Government must know exactly who its “enemies” are, what their aims are in opting for conflict as their means and process for resolving their disputes with the Nigerian government; that partnership implies that the Nigerian government is unified and presents a common front against a common enemy. Thus the Nigerian-Franco Partnership for securing the society and stabilizing its order necessarily involves also stabilizing and securing the Nigerian government in its course of national security conflicts with its adversaries.
This is not the case with the Franco-Nigerian Partnership in peacekeeping in the West African sub-region. In this partnership, the assumption is that both partners have stable and secured hold on power in their respective domains of government.
There is therefore a need for the sequencing of the tasks involved in France’s offer of partnership. The survival interests of the Nigerian government must come first; Nigeria’s security interests have to be in the context of the inter-state security partnership in the West African sub-region.
Nigeria as described by France must choose its survival in order to be in a position to choose helping its neigbours. Both governments, the French and the Nigerian, should remember the routine instructions of air-lines to their passengers; first put on your oxygen mask and only after so doing assist your child to put on his or her own mask. What we have said about France applies equally to all third party partnerships offers, such as it is the case with Israel’s, Britain’s and United State’s.