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Sunday 27 March 2016

Nigeria: Buhari is On His Own, He added Us to Saudi Led Coalition without Senate’s Approval

Following President Mu­hammadu Buhari’s recent admission that Nigeria has joined the 34-member Saudi Arabia-led coalition fight­ing Islamic terrorism, members of the National Assembly, including the Office of the Senate President, have disowned the move.
The members insist that Pres­ident Buhari did not seek the ap­proval of the National Assembly before the government made such a weighty international commit­ment in the name of the country.
The Office of the President of the Senate denied knowledge or endorsement of Nigeria’s mem­bership of the Saudi-led coalition.

When The AUTHORITY con­tacted the Office of the President of the Senate, the Special Advis­er to the President of the Senate on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said he had no knowl­edge of a presidential communi­cation to his principal either pri­vately or officially on Nigeria’s membership of the Saudi Arabia coalition against the Islamic ter­rorists.
He explained that if there had been such a correspondence from the presidency under “Letter from President Muhammadu Buhari,” it would have been read at the floor of the Senate before now.
Reacting to Nigeria’s member­ship of the Saudi-led anti-terror coa­lition, a member of the Senate, Sen­ator Adeola Solomon Olamilekan (APC- Lagos West) said although Nigeria is already a member of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), it still behoves on the Presi­dent to seek approval from the Na­tional Assembly before engaging in such a treaty.

His words: “As I speak to you, the President has not sought the Na­tional Assembly’s permission and I know he would not engage in any such thing given the economic re­cession and paucity of funds in the national treasury. But for all I know, he has not sought the National As­sembly’s approval to enter into such a coalition.
“It is not like the President has dragged Nigeria into membership of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition. Nigeria is a member of Organisa­tion of Islamic Countries (OIC) and if the president is going to join any Islamic group to intervene or to bring Nigeria on board to fight ter­rorism, he still needs to seek approv­al from the National Assembly.”
The lawmaker, who doubles as the Vice Chairman, Senate Com­mittee on Communications, ar­gued that though the president has the right to initiate any good part­nership with other countries of the world, he still has to get the approv­al of the National Assembly in line with the Constitution of the Feder­al Republic of Nigeria.
Reacting to the issue, a mem­ber of the House of Representa­tives, Hon. Oghene Emma Egoh, representing Amuwo Odofin Fed­eral Constituency of Lagos State, de­nied any knowledge of the National Assembly’s approval of the purport­ed membership of the Saudi Ara­bia-led coalition against terrorism.
He told The AUTHORITY that although the idea of fighting the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency in the country is a welcome devel­opment, President Buhari still needs to follow the constitutional proce­dure for domesticating treaties in the country.
His words: “I know that all agreements entered into by Nige­ria, by way of bilateral agreements, are to be domiciled in the Nation­al Assembly.”
Expressing confidence in Presi­dent Buhari, he noted that he has no doubt in his mind that the President would not breach constitutional re­quirements for entering into mem­bership of any nation through bilat­eral agreement.
“May be he will still present them before the National Assem­bly for approval. I only read about it in the national dailies and I be­lieve that he will do so and when it comes to the National Assembly we will look at it,” the lawmaker added.
When The AUTHORITY met with the Chairman, Senate Com­mittee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Munsurat Sunmonu (APC-Oyo Central), she declined comments, saying that she should be given more time before speaking on the subject.
Meanwhile, further enquir­ies at the Secretariat of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs re­vealed that there has not been any such communication from the Pres­idency on the subject.
According to a top official of the Committee who pleaded anonymi­ty, any such communication should first go to the office of the Presi­dent of the Senate through which it would be directed to the committee from the floor of the Senate as has been the parliamentary procedure.
But taking a different tack, Sen­ator Shehu Sani backed Buhari on Nigeria’s membership of the coali­tion. According to him, “A collec­tive danger can only be addressed by a collective action.”
In related development, an ex­pert in International Relations and a University of Abuja don has faulted the President’s decision to join forc­es with the Saudi-led Islamic coa­lition against terrorism within the framework of the Lake Chad Ba­sin Coalition Against Boko Har­am, which is made up of sovereign states.

Speaking exclusively to The AUTHORITY, Prof. Saleh Dauda faulted the government’s decision on joining the coalition.
President had responded when asked how the coalition would work in Nigeria’s interest in an interview with Aljazeera that , “It would be within the framework of the Lake Chad basin coalition against Boko Haram which comprises Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and Benin”.
The don in the department of International Relations at the Uni­versity of Abuja wondered why the president would make such deci­sion within the commission that comprises other countries.
According to him, each coun­try in the commission is a sover­eign nation.
“It is not good for the president to say that it would join the Saudi Arabia coalition within the frame­work of the Lake Chad basin coa­lition against Boko Haram which comprises of Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and Benin because each country is a sovereign nation.
“It will be improper for the pres­ident to make this kind of decision on their behalf which may not be in their own interest,” he said.

He warned that the President should avoid any alliance that will cause domestic instability.
“Buhari should try as must as possible to avoid any alliance that will cause disunity in this country.”
“The foreign policy should be pursued the way it will not cause political instability in the country. Nigeria joining the Saudi Arabia Is­lamic coalition will cause domestic instability because Nigeria practices different religions,” he said.
“My problem is this Saudi Ara­bia which has expertise and military personnel; they must give details on how they will help Nigeria fight against Boko Haram,” he added.
It could be recalled that in De­cember 2015, Saudi Arabia an­nounced the formation of a 34-state Islamic military coalition to com­bat terrorism, according to a joint statement published on state news agency, SPA. Nigeria was named as a member of the Islamic alliance by the kingdom.
“The countries here mentioned have decided on the formation of a military alliance led by Saudi Arabia to fight terrorism, with a joint oper­ations center based in Riyadh to co­ordinate and support military oper­ations,” the statement said.

A long list of Arab countries such as Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, together with Islam­ic countries Turkey, Malaysia, Pa­kistan and Gulf Arab and African states were mentioned and Nige­ria was one of the countries named.

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