Nigeria’s close partnership with the rest of Africa has continued under President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. Indeed, in his inauguration address on May 29, 2011, the President reaffirmed Nigeria’s collaboration with the African Union, ECOWAS and Gulf of Guinea in the joint efforts towards greater human and energy security. He also outlined Nigeria’s enhanced role and cooperation with the AU, to champion, the promotion of democracy and development, consolidation of democracy, good governance and human rights. President Jonathan further reiterated Nigeria’s strong desire to collaborate with ECOWAS, AU and other international Organisations to combat trans-border crime like illicit trade in small arms and light weapons that have fuelled conflicts in Africa.
Since that Inauguration Address, Nigeria has stayed the course in the promotion and support for the advancement of democracy, good governance, human rights and rule of law in Africa. In line with the AU and ECOWAS policy of zero tolerance for unconstitutional change of government, Nigeria, with other members, condemned the recent military coups in Mali and Guinea Bissau and imposed sanctions on the regimes in the two countries. Nigeria, as a member of the ECOWAS contact group is actively involved in the efforts to restore democracy and security in Guinea Bissau. These include participation in the ECOWAS Military mission in Guinea Bissau (ECOMIB) which was established to replace the Angola troops (MISANG) and to assist in the continued implementation of the Defence and Security sector reform (DSSR) as well as provide security for the transition government.
Bilateral financial and logistic assistance to a number of West African countries like Republic of Benin, Guinea Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone towards the conduct of free, fair, transparent and credible elections was in furtherance of the democratization process that is taking firm roots in West Africa and Africa in general. This is in addition to the dispatch of election monitors to observe the conduct of elections in ECOWAS member states.
The emergence of new challenges in forms of terrorism, piracy, kidnapping, human and drug trafficking, illicit trade in small arms and light weapons have remained serious threats to peace and security in Africa. These trans-border crimes that seemed to have undermined progress in Africa’s development require collective actions to prevent reversal of the democratic gains already made and destabilization of many African countries.
The collaborative measures with Nigeria’s neighbours, to curb trans-border crimes and strengthen sub-regional security, included the signing of a Trans-border Security Cooperation Agreement with Cameroon in 2012 and the strengthening of the Multi-National Joint Task Force under the aegis of the Lake Chad Basin Commission comprising Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad for effective joint border patrols.
The increased exchange of high level visits between Nigeria and other African countries provided opportunities to strengthen bilateral cooperation and promote healthy relations. Specifically, the visits during the past year, have resulted in the renewal of moribund agreements and the signing of new ones in areas of development including trade and investments, the rejuvenation of Joint Commissions for cooperation that serve as the framework for conducting bilateral business has further cemented ties with other countries. The successful outcome of the 8th Session of the Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National commission underscored the importance of the Joint Commissions as a vital instrument for strengthening bilateral cooperation. These reinvigorated engagements leave no one in doubt that Nigeria is uncompromising to consolidate its preeminent role as an influential African country.
Africa remains the cornerstone of Nigeria’s foreign policy. The present Administration has given concrete expression to this policy by engaging every country in Africa, including the commitment to maintain a diplomatic mission in every African country. This ensures effective engagement and adequate coverage of events and acitivities in the five regions blocs of the continent namely, West Africa, Central Africa, North Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa, in furtherance of Nigeria’s national interest and foreign policy goals.
In demonstration of Nigeria’s commitment to African solidarity, Nigeria participated actively in the AU pledging conference on famine in Somalia which took place in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia on 25th August 2011. Nigeria pledge the sum of US$2million (two million dollars) in aid of victims in the Horn of Africa. President Goodluck Jonathan visited a number of countries in Africa including Ethiopia, Rwanda, Ghana, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Chad, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia. The visits provided opportunities for exchange of views on issues of bilateral relations and continental matters.
Nigeria’s relations with countries in the Central African region have also witnessed significant developments in recent times. The President of the Republic of Congo, H.E. Denis Sassou N’guesso personally attended the swearing-in ceremony of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on 29th May 2011. High level Nigerian delegations participated in seminars/workshops held in the Republic of Congo during the year. These included: