THE Nigerian government has said it does not owe Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe any apology over its stand on the June run-off elections.
Nigeria, at the Africa Union (AU) Summit at Sham El-Sheik, Egypt, had joined others to reject the run-off election.
It said the position before the June presidential run-off was a more inclusive platform for negotiations.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, made the statement in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (Nan) this week in Abuja, shortly before departing for Lusaka, Zambia.
The minister represented the Nigerian government at the burial of late Zambian President Levy Mwanamasa on Wednesday.
“I want to use this opportunity to reaffirm that what Nigeria said at the AU summit still remains. Our position is that we do not consider the presidential run-off of June as a basis for moving forward; we felt and we still do feel that way,” he said.
He explained that government took such position based on principle and not to disparage Zimbabwe.
“We did not say so because we are perfect; we didnâ€™t think that the notion of people living in glass houses, should intimidate Nigeria from speaking up about what is right in Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa,” he said. Referring to comments by Mugabe about “those who live in glass houses”, Maduekwe said “the glass house” had been reinforced, transformed by rule of law and independence of judiciary.
“There is no basis to apologise to Zimbabwe for our standing firm on democracy, rule of law, good governance, and the triumph of multi-party democracy on the continent,” Maduekwe said. “It costs us money, time and in many instances lives; we have a strategic interest in this matter because quite often when there is democratic failure, it leads to civil unrest that might even lead to civil war.”
Maduekwe explained that Nigeria could not look the other way because traditionally, its foreign policy focus was on Africa.
“Ours is an Afro-centric foreign policy which really both history and demography left us with no option, because every 4th African is a Nigerian,” he added.
He said from Congo to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Darfur and currently Somalia, Nigeria had paid enormous price in promoting continental stability.
Maduekwe observed that the threat to continental stability was not inter-state, but intra-state conflicts which normally emanated from democratic failure to address electoral succession. He said Nigeria would not interfere in the situation in Zimbabwe because it is the people of the country that would determine their future.
“We are also concerned that there should be no meltdown in Zimbabwe, the economy is already in tatters, and inflation rate is over a million per cent. The people of Zimbabwe deserve a lot better than they are going through,” Maduekwe said. â€” Nan.