Nigeria’s Abstention At UN Vote On Palestine: Long In Impunity, Short In Principle

Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan with Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu
Nigeria yesterday 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.
The request to officially recognize Palestine as a state within the 1967 borders with full UN member benefits and state status throughout the international community was presented by Jordan on 30th December, 2014. Whereas Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan, Luxembourg, China, France and Russia (8 justice seeking countries) voted ‘Yes’ to a Palestinian state, only Australia and the United States voted ‘No’ while 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. We did the same in Rhodesia, Zimbabwe and Angola. 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?
In retrospect, we are constrained to liken Nigeria’s decision to pitch tent with Israel to President Jonathan’s consistent disgust for Islamic norms and values, his unveiled desire to marginalize Muslims in the scheme of things and his unhidden mien for the debilitation of Muslims both locally and internationally.
The removal of Arabic Ajami from the newly introduced N100 note symptomises his lack of regard for Islamic norms and values. The under-representation of Muslims at the recently concluded national conference in which Muslims were a paltry 189 against 303 Christians and the failure of President Jonathan to redress the wrong is an eloquent testimony to the president’s anti-Muslim agenda. No single Muslim from South-West Nigeria was appointed into President Jonathan’s cabinet for three good years until the Muslims protested. Yesterday’s technical ‘vote’ for Israel on the issue of a Palestinian state filled President Jonathan’s anti-Muslim cup to the brim.
MURIC appeals to Muslims in the leadership cader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to call the President to order. Nigeria is a multi-religious country and if we want enduring peace, whoever assumes the mantle of power here must be ready to treat both Christians and Muslims equally and fairly. A Muslim president who is openly discriminatory will do the Muslims more harm than good and vice versa.
Finally, we call on the international community to observe the trend in President Jonathan’s administration, particularly the way and manner he has sidelined Muslims and adopted far-reaching anti-Muslim policies. We charge the National Assembly to turn its attention to this insensitive and ignoble decision.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),
            [email protected]