"We Owe Zimbabwe No Apology" – Nigerian Foreign Minister

ABUJA – The Federal Government said it does not owe President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe 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 therun-off elections.
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), yesterday in Abuja, shortly before departing for Lusaka.

The Minister was to representthe Federal Government at the burial of late Zambian President, Mr. Levy Nwanamasa.
"I want to use this opportunity to reaffirm that what Nigeria said at the AU summit stillremains. "Our position is that we do not consider the presidential run-off of June as a basis formoving forward; we felt and we still do feel that way,” hesaid.

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 didn’t thinkthat 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 andin many instances lives; wehave a strategic interest inthis matter because quiteoften when there isdemocratic failure,it leads to civil unrest thatmight even lead to civil war,”he stressed.Maduekwe explained thatNigeria could not look theother way becausetraditionally, its foreign policyfocus was on Africa.

“Ours is an Afro-centricforeign policy which really bothhistory and demography left uswith no option, because every4th African is a Nigerian,” headded.He said from Congo to SierraLeone, Liberia, Darfur andcurrently Somalia, Nigeria hadpaid enormous price inpromoting continental stability.

Maduekwe observed that thethreat to continentalstability was not inter-state,but intra-state conflicts whichnormally emanated fromdemocratic failure to addresselectoral succession.

He said Nigeria would notinterfere in the situation inZimbabwe because it is thepeople of the countrythat would determine theirfuture.“We are also concerned thatthere should be no meltdownin Zimbabwe, the economy isalready in tartars, andinflation rate is over a millionper cent.

“The people of Zimbabwe deserve a lot better than theyare going through,” Maduekwesaid.