DISRUPTION OF GLOBAL PEACE: Will 2014 be a reincarnation of 1914?
I am perturbed by the bells ringing across the World. So soon after the Christmas bells that heralded the commemoration of the birth of the Prince of Peace, war bells are ringing in increased intensity in many parts of the globe and these portend ominous signs for global peace and by logical extension for global trade and World economy.
1914 means many things to different people. The first world war started in 1914 and it was the same year, the Northern and Southern Protectorates were amalgamated into a sovereign Nation- Nigeria. Today there are arguements as to whether the amalgamation was to bring Peace or to instigate war. I have heard some people say that the amalgamation was a mistake. I do not agree,because it is clear to me that Nigeria has achieved so much in its 100 year history as a country. Would we have done better as disparate tribal enclaves or even as separate countries- Northern and Southern Nigeria?, there is nothing that lends credence to such optimistic view.
For many years, Sudan was at war with itself and by the time it ended or was supposed to have ended, millions of Sudanese had died. So some optimists thought that what would solve the problem and bring peace and development to Sudan, was to divide Sudan into two. After many years of arguement, this option was accepted and just about a year or so ago, the newest Country in the World was born- South Sudan. The euphoria lasted less than a year and the South Sudan has become another theatre of civil war. More than 180,000 people have been displaced, 5300 in Ethiopia,25500 as refugees in Uganda and more than 1000 people already killed.So what do we do? Divide South Sudan into 2 States to accommodate the selfishness and greed of President Salva Kiir and his former co-rebel and former Vice President- Yak Marshall. This will be nothing but simplistic thinking.
Many Nigerians now seem to blame our unsatisfactory performance as a Nation on the fact that 250 ethnic or linguistic groups or 'nationalities', how ever that is defined, were wielded into one Country without their consent. And for many years, many of the so called activists or 'progressives', however this is defined have advertised the view that, Nigeria's problems would immediately vanish if we held a National conference where these 'ethnic Nationalities' would come and renegotiate their terms of relationship. I laugh. I laugh because it is not as simple as that.I reckon that even some of the original promoters of this idea are now opposing it, because they realise that it is essentially a political gimmick and may not yield much dividend. I am not opposed but I know that it may solve some problems and then create new ones. Even if you make every state in the country an independent Nation,and the same people occupying Nigeria now, are the same people distributed across the new 37 sovereign nations,not much will change. Armed robbery will still take place in Lagos Republic, kidnapping in Edo Nation and daily blood letting in Plateau Country.
I was in Biafra and shed some of my blood in the battlefield to help sustain the Republic for 30 months. The struggle for power between Ojukwu and some of the senior commanders caused Biafra so much and the fate of Biafra ultimately was hastened by this struggle. I can bet my last buck that if Biafra had succeeded, we will have more than 8 Countries today resulting from further fragmentation of the Republic of Biafra. Of course the struggle for Biafra was justified at the time, but my point is that other problems resulting from the greed of man would have created the demand for secession by other components of Biafra. If you think I am being too cynical, then note what happened when the new Anambra State was created. All those Public and Civil servants not from Enugu were ordered to leave and soon other States followed, even until recently.The same ethnic Nationality or are they? When it was mooted a short while ago that a new state would be created out of the Current South East region, did anybody keep count of the number of requests and the very unhealthy competition that ensued. No one was willing to consider the other's view or position. If Nigeria, will change the way we desire, we will have to change our selves first. And how that will happen, only God knows!
Everywhere you look in Africa, the struggle for Power, money and influence is causing mayhem. The Situation in Central African Republic( CAR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) is worsening and human misery is aggravating. What is the solution? Divide the Countries further into pieces, so that each hamlet can manage their own gold or diamond mines!. Up North, things are not looking any better. Egypt remains on the tetter, with the military resisting popular votes. The seeds of a long time instability has been sown in Egypt as the military has assumed the role of determining what is best for the Egyptians and It is doubtful if they can permanently subdue the Muslim Brotherhood. The 'coup' against Morsi and the current effort to criminalise and imprison him leaves a lot of bitter taste in my mouth.Libya is essentially a failed State right now,with different Militias competing for turf and with little prospect for the return of order any time soon.
In the Middle East, prospects for peace remain dim despite the intensive diplomatic efforts of the reigning 'pacificist' Nation, USA, who recently avoided turning the Syrian Civil war into a global war that will have involved Russia and China and who has doused the inevitability of striking Iran .The Syrian war is intensifying especially in the North- Aleppo particularly, nevertheless the peace moves are unlikely to yield much, because neither the apparently weakened opposition nor the beleaguered Assad is prepared to shift ground. Assad has shown without any iota of doubt that he is prepared to liquidate Syria and its people than step down from power and give another Syrian an opportunity to rule and in my opinion, the opposition is equally desperate and will not mind using every scheme to win the war. When Assad is pushed out as he eventually would, the real struggle for power will begin and you will see the true colours of the strange bed fellows who claim to be fighting for a common cause now. Such is the greed of man! With the increasing terrorist activities in Lebanon and the open support of Hezbollah for Assad, it will not be long before the sectarian battered Nation returns to war. Israelis and Palestenians distrust each other so much that there may still be many more wars before any agreement for the inevitable two state option becomes reality. Indeed the Middle East has never been so unstable with so much effort focused on maintaing peace or ensuring a balance of terror.
Further North into Asia, the situation in the new year has become very disturbing and has a very high incindiary potential. The instability seems to have been instigated by a struggle over Rocky Islands- a piece of useless territory,in my view, between China and Japan. Indeed the belligerence temperature has risen sharply in the early days of this month following two 'offensive' actions by the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. The first is the plan by Mr Abe to work for the ammendment of the Japanese Constitution to allow the Country improve its military capacity and perhaps remove the restraint on its power to wage wars. Since the end of the second World war, Japan took a decision to become pacifist, removing its powers to wage war against any nation. They can only fight in self defence when attacked,they can not initiate wars or become aggressors. I believe, this decision was what helped Japan become a world economic power. Rather than invest on Military Reseach and the cold war arms-race, Japan focused its efforts on manufacturing and ended up becoming the World's Manufacturing hub and a global leader in R&D. That of course was before China came on the scene and over the last decade and half began to supplant Japan as the global factory and completed the cycle by displacing Japan as the World's second biggest economy two years ago. Perhaps, because of this rivalry and competition from China or perhaps because of a feeling that many ASEAN Countries particularly China and South Korea were beginning to unduely exploit this pacificist stance, Prime minister Abe wants to make the country stronger militarily. But this is rattling its Neighbours especially China and the rhetoric from both Countries is unsettling.
The second action by Abe was his highly criticised decision to visit the ...shrine in Japan. This visit has been seen by China and South Korea as an announcement by Japan to resume military aggression in the region. What is worse, many Nations including the USA cautioned against that visit to the Shrine where some of the world war Japanese criminals were buried, but Shinzo Abe ignored all the counsel and went ahead with the visit. China looks set to apply some reprisal to Japan for these offences and that has raised the temperature in the region and by extension in the whole World.
Japan was a major aggressor in the First World War in 1914 and many are beginning to wonder if 2014 will be a reincarnation of 1914. I hope not. Let us pray.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR