A former Minister of External Affairs, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi, has urged the Federal Government to re-evaluate its domestic preparedness to deal with the fallout of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
Akinyemi, who spoke in Lagos on Friday at the second lecture series of the Department of History and International Relations, Lagos State University, with the topic, ‘Competing narratives on the Russian-Ukraine war,’ said some fighters in the war were already heading for Africa, hence the nation must be prepared to deal with destabilisation plot that such might bring.
He said, “Nigeria has to focus on its own security as combatants are leaving Europe; they are coming into Africa. That is why we are having this destabilisation in the Sahel. So, you’ve got to secure the nation and also increase agricultural production. We have got to warehouse them (combatants), because a hungry nation is an angry nation.
“The country needs to get funds into the security sector. Our troops are good if well equipped and well motivated. The new leader coming in must be prepared for a lot of hard work.”
Akinyemi said the binding principle adopted by the African Union restricted each African country from extending its boundary into another like the case of Russia.
He said, “We have a binding principle adopted way back when the Organisation of African Unity was established. This is the sanctity of the boundaries we inherited at independence. You don’t go invading your fellow country’s boundary because you have the Niger and the Benin in your country, therefore you’ve got to extend Nigeria’s boundary.
“No, we foresaw it and we said those boundaries were artificial and we’ve got to keep them. And that is why a lot of Africans are saying Russia should not have invaded Ukraine. But we all know where our own shoe is paining us.”
He described the sanctity of facts and fallacy of mainstream interjections as factors to be mindful of when analysing the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
According to him, what the media portrays is an edited version of the facts regarding the war.
The ex-minister added, “Nobody can change the fact that there is a war that is going on between the two countries. As scholars and students, don’t say I heard this on CNN, BBC and Aljazeera, and you come to a conclusion. What you get in the media is an edited version of the facts. You also get different interpretations and presentations of the same event.
“So, in a way, all of us, whether media or analysts, it is either we are speaking for the global South or the global North, but university scholars tend to move to where I call the integrity middle. We could use publication to draw attention to where there may be issues of interpretation, but the integrity of a scholar and the integrity of a university environment is to declare upfront where you stand in terms of analysis.
“You also have to be cautious of the fallacy of mainstream interjection. There is a beginning to every event. You come into the middle of the fight and you start to make conclusions. That is part of the problem of the war. Your conclusion should depend on the historical antecedents of the war.”
He challenged Nigerian youths to fight for what belongs to them as the general elections draw near, adding that the struggle for democracy was not achieved on a silver platter.
He said, “The youth have to fight for their corner. People often think that we got things on a silver platter, but we didn’t. I lost a brother, who was in the army, in the struggle for democracy. He died at the age of 45 because he was involved in the struggle and he was prepared to pay the sacrifice.
Abacha was hunting me. I might have been dead rather than be here talking to you. So, young people are not going to get anything on a silver platter; you’ve got to fight for your corner.”
The Head of the Department of History and International Relations, LASU, Dr Adewunmi Falode, said the topic of the lecture was informed by the need to send warnings to some Nigerians who were fanning the embers of war.
He said, “The Russian-Ukraine war is a burning topic; it’s ongoing. We are trying to send warnings to Nigerians that in war, you cannot predict the outcome. Who would have assumed that Russia would have destroyed Ukraine within a space of one month? But unfortunately, since war is not a science, they are still fighting.
“So, it’s a warning for Nigeria and these so called ethnic militias who want Nigeria to split, as well as a tribe that believes that it will win over the other.”