It is one thing to write about what an international response should look like to the Syrian Crisis. I have done a bit of writing on that. I also think it is very important to also consider how specific local and international actors could act to restore peace to the country. There are several articles on what the United States, Russia, and many other great power States could do. I want to write about how Nigeria could do to help.
Nigeria is located in Africa and many miles away from Syria. How much could Nigeria achieve in the situation? First of all, we must recognize that Nigeria is a part of the international community. When I say, ‘the international community needs to act decisively and more humanely’, I am not excluding Nigeria. It is a member of the United Nations and has been on many peace keeping campaigns in the past. Nigeria is also a power house in the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States. Nigeria is a regional and continental power in its own rights. It is presently serving in the United Nations Security Council, for the period of 2014-2015.
One can easily discern that Nigeria can wield enough influence to generate an international consensus on what to do about Syria. However, not much is found via a google search on what Nigeria’s policy towards Syria. I fear that because we have not had several fleeing Syrians at our borders seeking for refuge and a fresh start, our government has not given much thought to what our Syria policy should be. I also fear that this may not be a Nigerian issue alone. I have not heard much about Syria from other African States in their diplomatic speeches in recent times. And I have to wonder, ‘are those of us on this side of the Atlantic content and comfortable to leave the problem up to the ‘West’?’ And I think the answer thus far is a sad yes. But why? Is it that our government is satisfied with the way the crisis have been handled at the international level till date? Or do we feel that the states with trillions of dollars in GDP and big military capacities should handle the problem alone? Or are we just so troubled by our own issues that we don’t have time for Syria’s?
Nigeria has proven to be a unique liberal actor on the international stage, often going extra lengths to secure a good life for people in other countries, no matter the pains own citizens face. We have approached the international domain with a ‘brotherly attitude’. Although this foreign policy attitude has been roundly criticized by a number of Nigerians as bringing us no gains in returns, we have maintained that attitude over our five and a half decades as a sovereign state. And I don’t see us switching that attitude off anytime soon. Our gain in acting this way is that our world gets to be more peaceful, and fertile for sustainable growth and development of people without discrimination. So I suppose the reason why our government has not been more active in generating a consensus on the Syrian crisis is because Nigerians are not speaking loud enough about it. Compare the level of debate on the Syrian Crisis with those we have had on Libya, Egypt and Tunisia.
We are we positioned as a country, Africa’s “great power” nation, to generate an African voice and policy stand on Syria. I remember that our stance on Libya and other northern African countries in crisis in 2011/2012 helped clear the way to bring in timely intervention that saved the situation. We can repeat the feat for the people of Syria. I want see our president talking about this issue, pressing other African heads of state to do same. I want to see them all speaking with one voice, and driving action for peace in Syria. In 2008, we witnessed how a man of black origins inspired the world to think, rethink and act out the change many of us dream of. I believe it is no coincidence that it was a black man who roused the world back then to think and say, ‘yes, we can’. It’s an African attitude. It’s Nigerian. And no time could be more appropriate than now for Nigeria and Africa as a whole to inspire the world to unite for positive action in Syria.