Monday, October 26, 2009

Nigerian ambassador and PG alum

PG major George Obiozor ’69, former Nigerian ambassador to the United States, was interviewed in Nigeria’s Daily Champion on Oct. 16. Excerpt:

Speak briefly on the book, "Nigeria and the World, Managing the Politics of Diplomatic Ambivalence Among Nations?"

The issue here is that I will like our people to understand that actually, international diplomacy is not a straight forward game, it's not a picnic, and it's not a pleasure journey. It has to do with, to a great extent, where actors sit on the fence most of the time looking for issues that will indeed put their countries at advantage, which also means putting others at disadvantage.

In other words, they are looking for political, economic and strategic interest of their country by persuading others to yield where they will be strengthened. In fact, if necessary, they may enter to promote conflict, even though they had gone in there to stop the conflict. If it is not in their interest to stop it, they will promote it, but they keep appealing to others on the basis of principle, meanwhile; they are pursuing their interest, regardless of what is happening.

In other words, what I have done in the book is to show that in the study of international relations, you have a constant conflict between power and principle. It has been so for a long time, it will continue and it is so today.

This makes international diplomacy a field of outrageous paradox - selective morality and double standards. You must understand what it takes. It requires pragmatism to know when your interest is at stake, what to give in and what to take, when to retreat and when to move forward. So, this is the issue that is involved in the book.

Many of the articles or lectures I gave in America had to do with Nigerian interests within the international system and then promotion of those interests and then advancing the areas of Nigeria's strength in order to invite our host country and the world, as I said of Washington being almost the centre of diplomacy, and till today, it is still the centre of diplomacy in the world... They have influence, major one, America is still the remaining world power, there is no gainsaying that.

Even though they may have their own problems; they still come first before others in military, strategic position in the world, economic position in the world, diplomatic coverage, that is, actually, political diplomatic spread worldwide. Others come after that, whether you are talking of China... China is moving fast and moving well.

Russia is restoring itself after the Soviet's collapse and they are moving now, but the issue remains: who is number one? And the number one doesn't want to become the number two, so there is a resistance from other competitors. This is the issue, that's what makes America strong or great, because they want to keep their position. It may not be dominant position any more, but it is a preeminent position.