Following his ‘dzi wo fie asem’ utterance during his interaction with the media earlier this year, President J.E.A Mills continues to come under intense criticism (some constructive; others irrational) home and abroad. Several individuals and organisations have been aggressive in their assertions that President Mills is a selfish and uncaring man, who is indifferent to happenings in his backyard-Cote d’Ivoire. It’s extremely important that ‘di wo fie asem’ is analysed within the context of prevailing circumstances:Preceding the President’s ‘dzi wo fie asem’ comment were statements that indicated that his agreement with ECOWAS on the following issues:Outarra won the Ivorian Presidential election in November 2010. Gbagbo ought to step down as President of Cote d’Ivoire.All peaceful diplomatic efforts must be pursued to get Gbagbo to hand over power.The inference of Presidents Mills’ ‘dzi wo fie asem’ utterance vis-à-vis the Ivorian situation, is that it will be extremely foolish for Ghana to commit troops to military intervention in Cote d’Ivoire, when:Ghana has serious social and economic problems of her own.A war in Cote d’Ivoire will set back Ghana’s economic gains.A war in Cote d'Ivoire will lead to a further destabilisation of the country.In the opinion of this writer, the situation in Cote d’Ivoire is not as bad as is being portrayed. ‘Misunderstanding’ or ‘dispute’ rather than ‘crisis’ best describes the happening in that country. The misunderstanding between Gbagbo and Outarra, I dare say, is trivial and can be resolved peacefully without any military intervention whatsoever. This probably explains why President Mills was so blunt in his affirmation that ‘military operation will not bring peace to Cote d’Ivoire’ and that Ghana will notcontribute troops to any such venture. One country that is aggressively advocating the option of military intervention in Cote d’Ivoire is Nigeria.According to the Daily Graphic of 25th January, 2010, Nigerian Foreign Minister, Odein Ajumogobia, has called on the United Nations Security Council UNSC) to authorise force in Cote d’Ivoire. Ajumogobia indicated that ‘the deadly crisis single-handedly precipitated by Mr Laurent Gbagbo will inevitably lead to anarchy and chaos, or worse, a full blown civil war.’He went on to add that ‘the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) requires unequivocal international support through an appropriate United Nations Security Council Resolution to sanction the use of force.’‘This is the only way to legitimise the use of external force to effectively contain the increasingly volatile internal situation and would ensure an enduring peace in Cote d’Ivoire and the West African Sub-region’, he said. Ajumogobia concluded that the peace keeping mandate of the United Nations Operation Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI), ‘has now however become inadequate to guarantee peace and security in the country’ and that ‘it’s time to look at the prospect of legitimate force.’ In the opinion of this writer, it is utterly unfortunate that Nigeria is aggressively advocating the use of military force in Cote d’Ivoire. This is a country that has been plagued by huge internal problems including militancy and sectarianism, which continue to lead to the loss of hundreds of Nigerian lives and damages to infrastructure and property to the tune of millions of dollars. This writer is tempted to believe that President Mills’ ‘dzi wo fie asem’ (mind your own business) utterance was directed at Nigeria.It has to be said that the situation in Nigeria is more deserving of a military intervention than the happening in Cote d’Ivoire.The happenings in the Niger-Delta area of Nigeria, wheremilitants relentlessly engage in killings, kidnappings and destruction of infrastructure, especially oil installations, and the happenings in Jos and Maduguri where fighting between Christian and Muslim gangs, continue to lead to the deaths of hundreds of people, are certainly worse and deserving of more attention that the happening in Cote d’Ivoire. What about sporadic incidences of bombings in some Nigerian cities ( The 2010 Independence Day bombings in Abuja easily come to mind)? Does it not form part of issues that should engage the undivided attention of the Nigerian government? I dare say, that it will be better for Nigeria to end the unnecessary ‘bravadoism’ and ‘machoism’ with regard to the Ivorian situation and concentrate on solving its own internal problems.The moneys being prepared for a war in Cote d’Ivoire should be expended on reducing poverty and improving electricity generation in that country. The troops Nigeria is preparing a war in Cote d’Ivoire should be deployed to Jos, Maiduguri and the Niger-Delta, so that law and order can be maintained in those places. This, needless to say, is the reasonable thing to do. The position of Ghana on the Cote d’Ivoire misunderstanding has been consistent and clear: we oppose any sort military intervention in Cote d’Ivoire as has been unequivocally and bluntly affirmed by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Prof. J.E.A Mills.The President’s position on Cote d’Ivoire, needless to say, is entirely in line with the position of Ghanaians who are not oblivious of the disastrous repercussions of a war in Cote d’Ivoire. Unlike Nigeria, not only Ghana does have serious economic interests in Cote d’Ivoire, the country also shares a border with that country. There is also an estimated one million Ghanaians living in that country and military intervention in Cote d’Ivoire will cause Ghana several problems including an unprecedented refugee situation. This writer envisages about two million Ivorians flooding into Ghana in the event of a war in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, already bedevilled with huge problems of poverty, unemployment, infrastructural backwardness and food insufficiency, will be incapable of feeding and housing them.It would be extremely unwise on our parts as Ghanaians, to invest millions of dollars in an unnecessary military expedition in Cote d’Ivoire when we are faced with more serious problems as a nation. It ought to be recognised, that Ghana’s decision not to contribute troops to military intervention in Cote d’Ivoire is in the best interest of both Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. And we must continue to rigorously oppose the use of military force in that country. This writer finds it extremely difficult to see the wisdom in risking the lives of ECOMOG troops just to unseat Laurent Gbagbo as President and replace him with Ouattara? Where in this world has this ever happened? Where in this world has military intervention been used to resolve electoral disputes? It is an unprecedented event and West Africa shouldn’t be first to set such a negative, barbaric and regressive precedence. In the words of President Mills ‘it is not for Ghana to decide who becomes President in Cote d’Ivoire’; this is the wisest saying I have heard in relation to the Ivorian situation and other West African countries must take a cue from it.In our analyses of the Ivorian situation, we mustn’t fail to take cognisance of the following:Gbabgo is the legitimate President of Cote d’Ivoire as per the Ivorian constitution which stipulates that only the Ivorian Constitutional Council has the power to certify election results and declare a winner.Gbagbo has the unflinching support of the Ivorian ArmyGbagbo has the support of many Ivorians ( this explains why Ivorians have not taken to the streets to demand his removal as has been done in Tunisia and is being done in Egypt). It’s important, in view of the foregoing, that attempts to get Gbabgo to hand over power to Ouattara be done with a significant level of respect.Military intervention ought to be ruled out completely because it will only worsen the already volatile situation in that country as well as the plight of the Ivorian people.Rather than sacrifice the lives of ECOWAS soldiers and Ivorian civilians just to make Outarra President of Cote d’Ivoire, we should continue to explore all diplomatic means to restore understanding between the incumbent Gbagbo and Ouattara. Even if Gbagbo refuses to set aside for Ouattara, despite the sanctions that have been placed on Cote d’Ivoire, a number of other options such as a recount of the election votes, a re-run of the election and even power sharing could still be explored. The preceding options, needless to say, are better for Cote d’Ivoire than a military intervention that could lead to the death of tens of thousands of people and the displacement of millions.
Source: Samuel K. Obour email@example.com
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