Nigeria foreign policy has been characterized by a focus on Africa as a Regional power and by attachment to several fundamental principles: African unity and independence, regional economic cooperation and development. It's nonsensical to note the level of South African government diplomatic rascality in recent time towards Nigerians. “The father Christmas” role we played in continental Africa, has really failed us as a nation.
On 02 March 2012, a total of 125 Nigerian citizens were deported from the OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) for allegedly being in position of fake yellow fever vaccine certificates. “Giant of Africa” we are called, but failed leadership, corruption, nepotism, mal-administration and absence of Citizen Diplomacy with weak institutions has not made us realized the dreams of our founding fathers.
Nigeria made enormous sacrifice in decolonization of Southern African and librated apartheid South Africa. Nigeria was one of the foremost supporters of Black South African liberation movements, including the African National Congress; the Nigerian government issued more than 300 passports to South Africans seeking to travel abroad. The Nigeria government sanctioned multi-national companies in Nigeria that violated the economic/trade embargo on the racist South African regime, the local operations of Barclays Bankwas nationalized after that bank ignored the strong protests by Nigeria urging it not to buy the South African government bond. Nigeria also nationalized the British Petroleum (BP) for supplying oil to South Africa. And In 1982, the Alhaji Shehu Shagarigovernment urged the visiting Pontiff Pope John Paul II to grant audience to the leaders of Southern Africa guerrilla organisations, Oliver Tambo. Coincidentally, the airport these Nigerians were recently deported from was named after him.
Deterrence and “retaliatory diplomacy” are veritable tools available to countries in the comity of Nations to achieved their goals and earn respects and prestige from other member Nations. South Africa has a huge investment in Nigeria that may be retaliated against if, their action persist. South African Airways has Lagos-Johannesburg route as one of its lucrative route, MTN makes its life-line in Nigeria's with over 100 million Subscribers' base network, Multi-choice (DSTV), and Stanbic-IBTC Africa's largest bank has its footing in the mainstream Nigeria financial systems to mention a few. South Africa is using Yellow Fever vaccine certificates to embarrass us as a nation period.
Nigeria government needs to critically review her foreign policy of “Big Brother” to be in tone with present day reality and also to avert a recurrence of this ugly incident from other nation if we are to achieve our vision of becoming the 20th economies in the year 20:20 before Sao Tome and principle will threaten us with sanctions.
Centre for Strategic & Development Studies,
Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma, Nigeria