By Chioma Gabriel
I got into a hot argument with my sister who is a broadcaster over the extent to which the international should interfere in who becomes Nigeria’s next president. It is a common thing for us to disagree on political issues especially as 2019 general elections approach. Our house was always a hot zone of arguments as elections approach. The recent argument bordered on the role the international community would play in our next elections.
Geoffrey Onyeama , the foreign affairs minister had just boasted that indeed the international community is in strong support of Buhari’s second term ambition in his bid to deflate the earlier ‘illusion’ created in some quarters that the global community was strongly against Buhari’s second term ambition.
What does that matter anyway? Wetin concern United States and United Kingdom or any other country for that matter about how Nigerians pick their presidents? Is it no longer the people’s choice? If Nigerians want Buhari to come back, would UK or United States decide against that? If Nigerians don’t want him back, would US or UK make him president the second time?
But Onyeama’s comment had attracted comments from various Nigerians as if our elections no longer count, as if the power to elect the next president is no longer the people’s franchise.
Of what does it matter if like Onyeama claimed, Buhari transformed relationships with foreign countries that he said are very supportive of his second term ambition?
The big question is who will vote in Buhari for a second term in office? Nigerians or the international community? Is it not our business to re-elect the president or not?
Nigerians are aware that the United States is still frothing at the mouth each time the potential of Russia having meddled in the election that produced its President Donald Trump is discussed. The United States is yet to fully prove imposed series of sanctions against Russia while its nationals that were suspected to be linked to the alleged plots have been politically lynched.
Has it became fashionable for the same US to become part of an axis asking President Buhari to seek or not to seek re-election.
In a similar vein, the United Kingdom is still smarting from the outcome of its referendum that favoured exiting the European Union and it is blaming Russia for meddling in the process to swing the outcome in favour of divorcing its European neighbours.
There is nothing wrong though against non-belligerent nations observing democratic activities of a country of interest within acceptable international terms but converting this otherwise good practice into a backdoor for interfering with and manipulating elections in Nigeria is unacceptable and would be rightly resisted same way the citizens of these perpetrating countries would have done if it were happening to them.
Nigeria will not take kindly to another country deciding who can and who cannot run office in Nigeria. It is an insult to us and an assault on our democracy.
We are aware the entire world is working to improve the credibility of elections as a democratic tool worldwide. Hence, plying pressure on a potential candidate to stand or not to stand for office is a devious form of manipulation that can be classified on the same level with electoral violence and vote buying. It is the kind of message the world should not catch any decent country sending across.
Besides, there is a limit to what the UK or the US can actually do within our domestic politics. They should expect us to know how to govern ourselves by now and the truth of the matter is that our situation leaves some countries disappointed in Nigeria after so many years. We may pretend but the truth is that some of the things happening in Nigeria do not make any of us proud. Some of them are so easy to solve but there is no political will to solve them.
The British have a way of working closely with Nigerian leaders whom they like. So, they created a Nigeria in which there are two types of Nigerians: the beloved part of Nigeria and the tolerated part of Nigeria. A school of thought thinks the British actually favoured the north and tolerated the south.
Nigeria has been caught in this since amalgamation. The truth is that the British has overdose of interest in Nigeria and has always interfered. If there is crisis, they know where to go, whose side to be. It is usual for them but then, they themselves have their own problems today as opposed to three years back. Chief George Obiozor once said the British regard some parts of Nigeria as friends and make people over-dependent on what they will do domestically in Nigeria. According to him, the British tend to inherit our problem and they dictate how the solution will come. This is not new.
From Obiozor’s perspective, they did it during the Aburi agreement after the Nigerian soldiers have agreed among themselves what to do to prevent war, only for them under the manipulation of the British to turn around and say they didn’t negotiate well.
That marked the beginning of the crisis of non-implementation of the Aburi agreement and then the civil war. The rest is history.
Indeed, the British should be worried about the level of crisis in Nigeria and should try to find the solution because it directly affects their national interest. Britain is even more important today than a few years ago.
Since Brexit, Britain needs a fall back situation towards former lucrative colonies to sustain its power, privilege, prosperity and influence as well as the influence within the international community.
Britain has found out that there is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous in international relations. We are at the era again when Nigerian politics must stop the practice where leadership is reduced to the drama of where the aspirant comes from and what region and religion he is and concentrate on what such aspirant can do for the people of Nigeria and the country.
Nigerians should choose their president, not Britain or the United States.