Saturday, January 10, 2015


NOT IN MY NAME: NIGERIA’S BETRAYAL OF PALESTINE

 Bala Muhammad
balamuhammad@hotmail.com
 

One had thought the New Year and the Maulud dual breaks would come with a real break – some hiatus one can enjoy devoid of Nigeria’s politics and other things mundane. One had really hoped the holidays would come and pass without as much as a whimper – or even less. Alas! The last few days – nay, almost the last day – of the year 2014 came with a bang, a shocker; the story that Nigeria, of all countries, at the United Nations (UN) in far-away New York, had betrayed the long-suffering Palestinian people.

Nigeria, the country which, despite its distance from the vicinity of the struggle, had earned itself the honourable title of a ‘frontline state’ in the fight against apartheid South Africa (and had chaired the UN committee against apartheid for many decades); the same Nigeria that had sacrificed resources – human and material – to save the peoples of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Mali and many other nations from annihilating themselves; the same Nigeria that had always stood for justice in the comity of nations; now is the same Nigeria that has betrayed Palestine.


The Betrayal of Palestine is NOT in my name!

The betrayal story was broken Thursday morning by many media organisations. Daily Trust, daily sister of this newspaper, carried the bold front-page headline STATEHOOD BID AT THE UN: NIGERIA ABSTAINS, PALESTINE LOSES in its Thursday edition. The story ran: “A last-minute decision by Nigeria to abstain from voting at the United Nations (UN) Security Council…helped defeat a resolution calling for an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory by 2017. A ‘yes’ vote would have paved the way to compel Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip which dated back to1967…

“The Palestinians needed nine votes in the 15-member Security Council but fell short of one when at the crucial moment Nigeria’s envoy Joy Ogwu, abstained from voting. China, France and Russia were among the eight countries that voted in favour of the text. Other countries who supported the resolution are Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan and Luxembourg. Australia and the United States voted against, and five other countries – Nigeria, Britain, Lithuania, the Republic of Korea and Rwanda – abstained. Diplomatic sources said Nigeria had been expected to support the resolution and changed its stance at the last minute. Nigeria had previously said it would vote for the resolution.”

So Nigeria is more Israeli-loving than China, France, Russia, Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan and Luxembourg, and especially France, Argentina and Luxembourg that can count many Jewish politicians among their leadership.

The Betrayal of Palestine is NOT in my name!

Immediately after Nigeria’s show of shame at the UN, it was reported that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come out openly to praise President Goodluck Jonathan “after Nigeria pulled a last-minute surprise that helped thwart a resolution calling for an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory by 2017…Mr. Netanyahu said he [had] personally spoke[n] to President Jonathan and [had] received his assurance of support [to thwart the Palestinian Statehood Bid]”, according to one version of the news reports. Meaning, it was all planned – there was nothing last minute about the vote.

As should be expected, the Palestinians are in anguish in relation to what Nigeria has done to their statehood aspirations. Palestine’s Ambassador to Nigeria Montaser Abuzaid said his country and its people were shocked, disappointed and hurt at how Nigeria abstained from voting in support of the resolution to end Israeli occupation…Abuzaid said they were shocked because they looked up to Nigeria as a big brother that has been in the forefront fighting for justice all over the world.

 Alas! That was then! This is now a new Jonathanian Nigeria which is more Israeli-loving than France, Argentina and Luxembourg!

The Betrayal of Palestine is NOT in my name!

In order not to try to reinvent the wheel, two recent media releases from two organisations should suffice to show our collective anger on this Jonathan Administration’s betrayal of the Palestinian people. The first was from the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) signed by its Director Professor Ishaq Akintola, while the second was from the Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC) and signed by its Executive Chairman Disu Kamor.

MURIC says interalia: “Nigeria…abstained from voting during the United Nations deliberation on whether Palestine should be recognized as a full-fledged state. The abstention cost Palestine denial of the recognition just when it needed only one vote to scale through. Eight votes were secured by Palestine out of the mandatory nine votes as Nigeria refused to cast a vote…Whereas Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan, Luxembourg, China, France and Russia (8 justice seeking countries) voted ‘Yes’ to a Palestinian state…Nigeria joined Lithuania, South Korea, Rwanda and Britain in the abstention camp. The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is astounded by this conservative shift in Nigeria’s foreign policy.

“It is on record that Nigeria has always been in the forefront of Africa’s struggle for freedom, justice and equal rights. The latest support for Zionist Israel which is notorious for killing unarmed civilians, women and children is therefore most baffling, uncharacteristically cowardly, highly reprehensible, long in impunity but short in principle. Nigeria has always been known for its principled stand on international issues. This great African country confronted the apartheid regime of South Africa until it collapsed…The basis has always been the promotion of fundamental human rights on the international scene. On what basis has Nigeria supported Israel this time around…?

MPAC, in its own release, said among other things that the Centre “is deeply concerned over the shift in Nigeria's foreign policy made apparent…by the refusal of Nigeria to cast a "Yes" vote during the question of Palestine and the Palestinians’ bid to be formally recognized as a state and a full member of the U.N. The apparent shift of the Nigerian position on the issue of Palestine has serious implications and Nigeria's refusal to support a vote that may have acted as the impetus for peace in the region is indeed historic…

“Given that the conflict in Palestine is based largely on the historic wrong of the dispossession of Palestinians, and that a majority of world’s population sees the resolution of the issue of Palestine statehood as a crucial component of any peace negotiation, Nigeria's refusal to take a public stand of support entails the dangerous implication that states can get away with illegal annexations of territory provided they make the process irreversible through the establishment of settlements and demographic shifts…

“Nigeria's ‘no-vote’ during this festive period when the Palestinian Christian community has its spiritual, cultural and economic links between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, located just a few kilometres [from each other], nearly severed due to the construction of Israeli settlements around the city sends a clear message to the Palestinians about where we stand on the issues of peace and justice…The refusal of Nigeria to support this bid has strengthened the extremists’ voice, encouraged the actions of the colonists in Israel, and those in Washington and London who pretend to speak for the ‘international community’. It is very sad that on an issue of important universal human rights struggle, the government of President Goodluck Jonathan has let the opportunity to side with justice pass…”

The Betrayal of Palestine is NOT in my name!


Inna lillaHi wa inna ilaiHi raji’un! (We are from Allah, and unto Him shall we return!); And HasbunalLahu wa ni'imal Wakeel! (Allah is Sufficient for us and He is the Best Disposer of affairs!)

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Kano, Kano, Nigeria
Dr. Yusuf M. Adamu is a Professor of Medical Geography at the Bayero University Kano. He is a bilingual novelist, a poet, and writes for children. He is interested in photography and run a photo blog (www.hausa.aminus3.com) All the blogs he run are largely for his hobbies and not his academic interests. Hope you enjoy the blogs.