The position of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to criminalise homosexuality has been applauded by many Nigerians. No doubt, by this action the upper tier of government has earned some degree of confidence from the Nigerian people. Having achieved this laudable feat, what next?

This question has become very imperative, as threats by Britain and its allies to cut foreign aids to countries who prohibits the rights of gay is an issue of great national concern.  The Senate President David Mark in response to this threat had said “If there is any country that wants to stop giving us aid because we want to pass the bill on same sex, that country can go ahead.  We are sovereign nation and we have rights for ourselves because no country can interfere in the way we run our country”.  That was a powerful statement of statesmanship.

Yes! Nigeria is a sovereign state.  But, what does it mean to be sovereign? According to the Black’s Law Dictionary, “Sovereignty is the supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable power by which any independent state is governed; supreme political authority; the supreme will; paramount control of the constitution and frame of government and its administration; the self-sufficient source of political power, from which all specific political powers are derived; the international independence of a state, combined with the right and power of regulating its internal affairs without foreign dictation”.  The two keywords here are self-sufficiency and international independence.  Are these truly reflective of Nigeria’s sovereignty?

The second question we should be asking ourselves right now is how sovereign is Nigeria’s sovereignty? What is the strength of the character of our sovereignty as a nation? Anyway, having exercised the rights of a sovereign nation and called the bluff of the superpower and its allies, do we just seat back and wish away the threats that are hanging over our heads?

At this point it is important to remember that Nigeria, since its 51 years of independence has not ranked among self-reliant nations and has continued to depend on foreign aids, goods and services.  The entire infrastructure upon which our economy is based is dependent on foreign supplies.  Today, Nigeria is like a structure coupled together with foreign nuts and bolts.  If the owners of nuts and bolts decide to unscrew their properties, the entire structure crumbles.

Our industrial infrastructure, domestic appliances, medical equipments, pharmaceuticals such as antiretroviral vaccines, polio vaccines etc, even clothings and cosmetics used by Nigerian elites including the senators are foreign made.  The masses and the poor are not exempted, the only difference is that they survive on fairly used “tokunbo” goods from foreign lands. Our educational system is so messed up that an average Nigerian who can afford it now considers overseas training as better alternative.  This is most unfortunate!

Our most important concern should now be how we should begin to build the character of our sovereignty such that it will be unchallengeable by foreign powers.  More than ever before, the statemanlike role of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should yet again be brought to bear in the quest to strengthen the character of our nation.  In the past and even now, the awkward indifference of the legislators over the passage of relevant laws to combat social ills responsible for Nigeria’s underdevelopment has created image credibility problems for the national assembly.  Today, our sovereignty is being challenged by foreign powers that have provided the foreign anchors that have kept the nation’s ship from drifting away. This is reality and truly calls for worry.

Therefore, the legislators are required more than ever before to display institutional courage and guts to ensure speedy passage of laws that will strengthen the character of our national sovereignty, especially, laws that will reduce Nigeria’s reliance on foreign aids. Also to be considered by the legislators are laws that will revamp our educational system and make overseas training unattractive as well as laws that will promote development of indigenous capability in science and technology.

The social ills of corruption, incompetence of public office holders, electoral malpractices, etc are as much abominable as homosexuality in Nigeria as they are mostly responsible for the weak character of Nigeria’s sovereignty.  Therefore, laws that will effectively punish and stamp-out corruption in all its ramifications as well as potent enough to punish those who are behind the failures of the nation’s power and energy sectors in particular as well as the nation’s economy at large should be speedily enacted.  These in my considered opinion also ranked among abominable offences that should attract a minimum of 14 years jail term without the option of fine as it obtains in the gay rights law.

Finally, it is time to braze up ourselves in preparation for the worse that may result from calling the bluff of the superpower and its allies. The legislators should with the highest sense of responsibility and with the kind of unanimous consent employed in the case of the gay rights law begin speedy enactment of laws that will strengthen the character of our national sovereignty to forestall further challenges from foreign powers.

Nigerian Institute of International Affairs

sbemmanuel@yahoo.com

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