Political Solutions And Compromises As Disputes Resolutions Strategy Of Crises In Africa
Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
A deluge of criticisms has recently been directed at the Nigerian presidency because President Obasanjo offered political asylum to Mr. Charles Taylor of Liberia, even as the Nigerian president appear to have designed and embarked on a deliberate policy of political solutions and compromises in resolving various crises in Africa; President Obasanjo and his team have been pursuing political solutions and compromises as a deliberate strategy for the resolutions of disputes and crises in parts of Africa, as demonstrated systematically in Sierra Leone, Congo, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe and recently in Sao Tome and Principe, it has largely been a successful policy.
Alternate Dispute Resolution method have been embraced upon by lawyers in resolving actual litigations or legal disputes, because it is a faster and cheaper method of resolving legal disputes without the necessity of resorting to all the usual legalese, jargons, technicalities, rigmaroles and at the end, less time is consumed, less expense is incurred by all sides and results are faster and fairer.
In the political disputes arena, the savings are gargantuan and monumental! When disputes are resolved amicably, by undertaking political compromises to arrive at such solutions, what it means, are that, many lives are saved! Not just money and resources, but lives! If Charles Taylor is still able to arrive in Nigeria to enjoy his asylum, (it is increasingly looking unlikely) Shouldn’t sparing or saving the lives of thousands of people in Liberia and the entire region, be an incentive and justification for a grant of asylum and political solution for Charles Taylor and Liberia? The benefits are that, war will end, many lives will be saved in Liberia and the entire West African sub-region, will in all probability regain peace.
Endless bloodletting, vengeance, bitterness and vindictiveness will clearly be avoided, and there would be no victor or vanquished, and the quagmire in Liberia would have ended without the use of more arms and ammunitions or weapons of all types, Liberia and the sub-region can then concentrate on the mundane matters of bread and butter, instead of expending their meager resources on the importations of guns!
Nigeria recently brokered peace successfully in Sao Tome and Principe, dethroning a pack of coup plotters, while restoring the legitimately elected constitutional government of Sao Tome, but before what became, that successful negotiations, there were Nigerians who wanted the Nigerian government to invade Sao Tome and engage in gun boat diplomacy! However, Nigeria chose the wise path, hence the peaceful resolution of that crisis without a shot being fired!
It is my opinion therefore, that Nigeria should embark on purposeful policies of political solutions and offer of compromises, as a strategy, and, as policy initiative to resolve the internecine intractable crises in Africa, Nigeria should explore and pursue this method vigorously, after all, what do Africans have to lose? If Africans resolve disputes without expending limited resources on grenade launchers, machine guns, armored cars, rocket propelled grenades and all the other assortments of weapons to maim and kill other Africans? And thereby enriching weapons manufacturers that are usually outside of Africa! What will the Africans lose? What will Nigeria lose in initiating this untried and unexplored method of resolving disputes? I predict that Nigeria will come out ahead, as the diplomats, as the statesmen and as the big brother!
African culture supports dispute resolutions, in the manner that I currently advocate, hence, the elders usually heard disputes and resolved disputes in African societies, between individuals and between communities, at least, that is how, it used to be! Until Africans appeared to have imbibed Western ways unquestioningly!
Additionally, I have wondered whether those critical of President Obasanjo, regarding Charles Taylor, have asked themselves, serious questions and proffered alternatives to the president’s efforts? And further, whether it was likely, that the president had made consultations and received assurances regarding an asylum for Charles Taylor in Nigeria, in international relations and diplomacy, such are undertaken behind the scenes! The same can be said in politics of nations worldwide! So much is conducted behind the scenes; Moreover, whatever anyone says, we should remember that President Obasanjo was not responsible for Taylor coming to power or for the unending crises in Liberia.
Nigeria is not flouting any international norms in offering Charles Taylor political asylum! Charles Taylor will not be the first unpopular or even unsavory character, to seek asylum and be so granted, as a means of resolving a lingering political crisis! England and the United States have repeatedly offered political asylum to past political leaders of Nigeria and other African countries, despite what Nigerians, nay Africans may have thought of such leaders, killings, crimes of looting and all?
I strongly believe and here advocate or recommend that a Nigerian president should have unfettered authority to conduct Nigeria’s foreign policy! Albeit with the advise and consent of the National Assembly as the Nigerian Constitution provides! I think it makes nonsense of international relations management and the pursuit of diplomacy, when and if it becomes the rule, that, this president or the next president of Nigeria becomes hostage of domestic indecisiveness and become hindered as a result, and prevented from useful and innovative diplomatic efforts to achieve positive results for Nigeria and Africa.
There are many instances in the past and currently, where many countries resort to political solutions and compromises, and criminal prosecutions and even prison sentences have been reversed or waived, in order to eschew further bitterness, bloodletting and violence or desires for revenge an vengeance etc.
Political solutions and compromises, is what will enable the repatriation of British Nationals to England from Guatanamo Bay, by the US for "war crimes" as enemy combatants, these Britons unlike other Nationals similarly held by the US as enemy combatants, but are not afforded the luxury of such choices like the British nationals aka enemy combatants; Further, it remains an open question, whether or not the enemy combatants of British origins will be tried at all, ONCE in England, this is because of the stiff oppositions in the UK to (A) the invasion and occupation of Iraq in the first place and (B) the death penalty which enemy combatants are most likely to receive and face from the US planned military tribunals, as everyone knows, military tribunals do not adhere to the usual civil liberties and procedural due process and rules of evidence etc as in the regular courts.
As imbalanced as the UNICC is currently constituted in favor of the Americans and Europeans running it, I still have more faith in such a multilateral body, as opposed to a military tribunal, where only the US calls all the shots! It is very likely to be vindictive and at minimum, subjective for and on behalf of dead comrades of the US military and other dead US citizens which arose from the action and consequences of the combatants.
The US has historically not deferred to the UN, the US most recently, have become more and more unilateralist regarding international law obedience and disregard, the US has breached World Trade Organization rules, has flouted Tokyo Convention on Environment, the US has refused to ratify Treaties banning Land Mines, the US in its actions around the world, has clearly treated multilateralism with contempt and disdain.
Many questions remain for the critics of President Obasanjo policy strategy regarding Charles Taylor, amongst which are, Are political solutions unusual? Are there any similar political solutions and compromises now taking place elsewhere, conducted by others for others outside of Nigeria and Africa? Are the Israelis not releasing, planning and contemplating the release of more 6,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails and detentions? As part of an overall political solution and compromise deals in the so-called Road-Map political solution to the crises in the Middle East?
As far as I am concerned, there are a multitude of issues surrounding the proper establishment of the United Nations’ International Criminal Court, these multiple variables include the fact that the USA is vehemently opposed to the International Criminal Courts? The US does not want American officials and soldiers brought before the UN’s ICC, Who then should be tried at ICC? Who should be amenable to the ICC? If not the American officials, civilians, who formulated war policies and the American troops, who executes these policies, in say, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and more recently in Iraq? Who in the world? Then deserve the vicissitudes of the UN ICC?
Why must the UN ICC be for only people from Yugoslavia? Uganda and Liberia Sierra Leone? War is an equal opportunity crime, and war criminals can be found among all those who cause and or participate in wars! The UN ICC should have single rule and standard for all of the world’s citizens and peoples! Are the American always so upright and decent and or too sexy to commit war crimes and then be tried before the UNICC? Does America’s war conduct in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia not betray this illogic and this attempt at double standards for war behavior, crimes and punishments? All humans makes mistakes, Americans are humans!
Americans and Europeans are the ones in charge of the UNICC anyways! They are the employees and beneficiaries of the UNICC, David Hecht is UN spokesman for UN Sierra Leone war crimes court, and the chief prosecutor is an American called David Crane, and the court’s acting chief of defense is John Jones! Where are the Africans in the administration of this war crimes tribunal administration directed at Africans? Where are the lawyers and spokesmen from Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Cameroon or Bostwana? Why are the Americans and Europeans who are not willing to be amenable to the UNICC, now the ones administering the ICC over the Africans? How come the Africans are not suspicious or at least skeptical of all these glaring mismatch of policies and implementations? Americans and Europeans must show more faith in the UNICC!
Belgium had in 1993 passed a law with the universal jurisdiction, that allowed everyone, including non-Belgians to enforce their rights violated by war criminals in or outside of Belgium, this law meant that Iraqis could have sued President Bush or Prime Minister Blair in Belgian courts for the deaths and destruction resulting from the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which are war crimes, the law also meant that, Palestinians could sue, Prime Minister Sharon of Israel, who was a war general some 20 years ago, and was directly involved or was at least in complicity in the massacre/heinous murders at Palestinian Refugee Camps in Shabra and Shatilla in the 1980s.
Belgium scrap the law this week under pressure from the US, American Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld already suspended funding for a planned new Headquarters NATO building in Belgium, now, with the law scrapped, Bush, Blair and Rumsfeld and other American and British officials and troops that were fearing arrests, if they stepped into Belgium? Are now off the hook! And Israel’s Sharon was already facing charges in Belgium and there were also other claims, about 29 or more that were pending, are now scheduled to be dismissed, as the law has been scrapped or killed under pressure from the "civilized world"?
The Belgian 1993 law gave Belgian courts the power to try war crimes cases no matter where the alleged offences were committed and regardless of the victim’s or perpetrator’s nationality, this good law is now dead, because the 19 nation NATO alliance pours money, jobs and brings prestige to Belgium and Belgium now, has acted, preferring to keep money, jobs and prestige, instead of justice? And Bush, Blair, Rumsfeld and General Tommy Franks can now rest easy, regardless of their culpability in Iraq? The Belgian law is toast! Scotched!
Those Nigerians who have been critical of the President Obasanjo, should listen to Senator Iya Abubakar, he got it right, when he stated that the president should be allowed to conduct Nigeria foreign policy and diplomacy, Senator Abubakar said that President Obasanjo has prerogative of over Nigeria’s foreign policy to grant asylum to Charles Taylor, without hindrance from the likes of the Nigeria Union of Journalists or Dr. Chidi Amuta, who in a recent article, made no spectacular revelations! He just recycled old garbage in order to arrive at a pre-determined conclusion that he intended!
Among other things that Dr. Amuta said, was that some guy on CNN says OBJ is "married" to a relative of Taylor? What is Amuta's journalistic responsibility? He did not disclose any new or specific information regarding the CNN allegations! He simply repeated it! It gave the article its titillating effects? Dr Amuta should spare us his Lagos Weekend-type expose trash-tabloid journalism! Mr. Obasanjo has a girlfriend who is related to Taylor according to a CNN guy and what else? Prince Charles had Camila Bowles while he and she were married to others and Bill Clinton monikers Monica Lewinsky and other women while president and the price of break and kunnu went up?
Dr. Amuta only made inflammatory remarks to Nigerian readers who are already weary over the poor state of Nigeria’s economy and politics or weary for other reasons! Join the political opposition in the open, instead of hiding under the asylum matter, and other extraneous debates!
Political solutions and compromises are occurring and taking place, in and outside Africa, even we speak! Tony Blair visited the US and has secured and arranged the release/soon to be released British nationals who are held by the US in Guatanamo Bay as war Criminals from Afghanistan, this is classical Political Solutions and compromise in dispute resolutions Australia has also extracted similar promises from the US for Australians in Guantanamo Bay! Political Solutions.
Dr. Chidi Amuta and other critics of the asylum offer by Nigeria to Charles Taylor, suggests that Nigeria should be shaking in her pants, according to them, for fear of US and the UK and the rest of the "international community" because Nigeria will be accused and besmeared if and when Charles Taylor reaches Nigeria for Asylum? What makes anyone think that OBJ did not consult other African leaders, Bush and Blair and the "international community"? Chidi Amuta measured the public mood in Nigeria and pandered to the public in his article, there are so many factual inaccuracies in his article too!
On the whole, most of the events that he recounted did not occur during OBJ's watch! Nigerian soldiers had sex? got AIDS? How is that Abacha or OBJ faults? Guns were smuggled to Nigeria during the more than 12 years of war in Sierra Leone, Liberia, etc, How is OBJ responsible? Even when he was not the Nigerian president at the time? Some have described Chidi Amuta as a groveling mouthpiece and apologist of IBB, in view of Amuta’s condescending and patronizing book on IBB that sought to repackage IBB as a saint and savior of Nigeria in IBB’s almost ten years as president of Nigeria, SAP and all? Revisionists and more revisionism!?
A Nigerian by the pseudonym of Kenn1 commenting in the NigeriaVillagesquare.com messageboard, recently had these, among other things, to say about Dr. Amuta’s article, here are the relevant excerpt "Amuta is no innocent commentator and as for whether he’s even important now, I need not hazard a guess; but suffice it to say that he’s the most groveling IBB sycophant and apologist to ever stalk the earth!"
"Have we forgotten how IBB’s ECOMOG brigades became diamond dealers overnight and how under the equally notorious Abacha, an Indian UN General actually blew the whistle on them? Amuta’s grouse with Charles Taylor is on behalf of his boss, not for any reason to do with Nigeria’s integrity. Taylor, with his band of crooks checkmated the bigger crook, Babangida and, as Liberia’s President, became the super-agent of the De Beers of this world in their illicit exploitation of Africa. Now, everyone is rejecting him because he seems no longer in control, new crooks are repositioning and indeed proving stronger in the battle for control of his tiny country; so what else but to feed him to the wolves?"
"Has anyone here ever read Amuta’s biographical account of Babangida, titled, PRINCE OF THE NIGER? If you haven’t, please go read it and come back and let us know if this chap deserves to open his mouth. Better still, go read his latest rendering in two volumes (edited along with Yunus Mohammed) - another dumb Babangida-worshipping stuff, indeed a rewrite of history, titled, A HERITAGE OF REFORM. I bet you by the time you finish reading these useless tomes, Chidi Amuta will be nothing before your very eyes, which is exactly what he is."
"Anything he says should be taken, not only with a pinch of salt, but a trailer load of it! As for whether Obasanjo is right to have offered Taylor asylum, I think it was the best decision in the circumstances. If Taylor can be removed from the scene and anything short of bloodshed put in place to return some normalcy to his country; that would be brilliant"
Some Nigerians, for better, but mostly for worse, have demonstrated perpetual animosities towards every Nigerian government initiatives, some have genuine reasons and proffer workable alternatives, but most others, are just bitter from loss of power or power and perquisites loss, and sundry inability to recoup expenses for elections that did not go their way!
Charles Taylor is no angel, he is said to have confessed to being responsible in some way, for the death two Nigerian journalists and Nigerian soldiers? Because of this, I stated recently, that Nigerians and I personally, should have him for breakfast, lunch and dinner for his role in the death of some Nigerians! I said anyone who plays any part in the death of a Nigerian, belongs to meals of the mutton and brisket variety, even though, I would ordinarily not hurt a fly and usually stop my car for stray cats to cross the street safely, but when it comes to persons with role in a Nigerian’s death? And perhaps, the Nigerian families or survivors who suffered loss, as a result of Charles Taylor’s wars, should demand and receive compensation from Charles Taylor and or Liberia, and NUJ and NBA can help in such efforts articulation? It is however no reason to let Liberia and the West African sub-region to degenerate into chaos, anarchy and continued needless deaths and extreme hardship and sufferings for the young, old, blind, deaf and infirm, who are just victims of these wars!
When it comes to placing responsibility and accountability for the killing of Nigerians by others, I draw the proverbial line in the sand! I am not a warmonger or a violent person, but my attitude is, if any country has the effrontery to kill a Nigerian, two of that other country’s citizens must be liable to pay supremely! I admired the Idiagbon/Buhari regime for this reason, I learnt at that time, that they had this policy attitude and practiced this philosophy of exemplifying the value of Nigerian lives.
Taylor is probably going to die in mysterious circumstances or get killed by the rebels who will swoon/swoop on him while still in Monrovia, Taylor may never see Asylum in Nigeria or anywhere! He will probably meet the Doe fate. Many forces are arrayed now. And not just the rebels, many more actors are now at work, and too many intrigues are at play.
It is now, becoming glaringly clear that, Charles Taylor, may be consumed by his own fires and demons, and the asylum offer will be overtaken by the rapidity and pace of events unfolding in Liberia! But if he reaches Nigeria, he should be as someone who applied and was duly granted an Asylum! Political Solutions and Compromises may perhaps be the workable resolutions that the internecine and intractable crises in Africa can use! Let all Nigerians, Africans and others support this new idea/policy, its working!
Paul I. Adujie is a Nigerian Lawyer and an Information Technology Professional.