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Home » Diplomacy » Nigeria: Recognising the ‘right moment’ in tackling terrorism.

It is only but logical to go by the very popular saying that “there is time for everything”. While this may imply how we live within a particular sociological context, it does not exclude the formulation of strategy and tactics in diplomacy or in any other field for that matter.

Guicciardini and Richelieu adequately addressed the significance of timing in negotiation and both identifies that there is always a ‘ripe moment’. Nonetheless, they differ in approaches of engaging within a ‘ripe moment’. For Guicciardini, who I could attribute to be very akin to the philosophy of ‘opportunity come but once’, alluded to the fact that ‘ripe moments’ need to be tactfully leveraged upon, without which opportunity could be lost forever or even produce a negative impact. Indeed Richelieu did not out rightly debunk the reason of leveraging on ‘ripe moment’ but thinks further more optimistically that one could continue to engage in negotiation even when opportunities during the ‘ripe moment’ are lost, hence his emphasis on continuous negotiation. Of course one could refer to him saying, “he who negotiates continuously will finally find the right instant to attain his ends.” Guicciardini did not just think that this ‘right instant’ would appear several times with in a particular process of negotiation. Thus, he would prefer to take it at once.

From random readings but strategic study, I would regard ‘continuous negotiation’ not only to mean gradual negotiation but also progressive negotiation which advances from a position of weakness in diplomatic relations to a more stronger position, at a time which could be considered a ‘ripe moment’.

In fact, I cannot read about strategy and tactic in diplomacy without thinking of a real situation, particularly the case of Nigeria and the insurgent Boko Haram sect, that have continued to constitute terror in Northern Nigeria and now spreading further to other countries through the Northern boarder. Many of you must have heard of, perhaps not followed, the popular hashtag #BringBackOurGirls campaign that was mounted in reaction to the recent attack by the sect, who kidnapped over 200 young girls from their secondary school.

This campaign has pressurised the Nigerian government to be more accountable to the security of its citizens and thus do all it could in rescuing the girls from the sect. Of course there is an ‘onionic’ fold to the objective of Boko Haram- subject for another day, which make negotiation even more complex for the Nigerian government but recent news has it that the sect has required the release of one of their members before they could release the girls. Here, there is an in-balance and I think that Nigeria is at a very weaker end of negotiation because it risks loosing over 200 girls, if it does not release the one person in custody. Nonetheless, with the recent military and security intelligence aid from Unites States, France and China to combat the terrorists, shall we then consider that Nigeria and Boko Haram are at a ‘Mutually Hurting Stalemate’, which might be an indicator for the ‘ripe moment’ for Nigeria to negotiate peace with Boko Haram?

It is needful to mention that Nigeria has attempted negotiations with Boko Haram to no avail. Could it be that the Nigeria did not rightfully recognise the ‘right instant’ for such an endeavour? And this is why it has been failing? Could it be that, it was one of those right moments, where negotiation did not just work out as anticipated? Considering the current objective and subjective elements in this case, perhaps it is indeed the ‘ripe moment’ for Nigeria with Boko Haram.

Nonetheless, it is important to appreciate the importance of the stages of negotiation, which I have understood to imply the time to study the target, its weaknesses and opportunity to conquer, in order to attain an anticipated end. Richelieu had well mentioned that “it is much more expedient to lead men by means which imperceptibly wins their wills than, as is more the practice, by those which coerce them.” This I reckon with and remember Guicciardini’s warning “….never to come at once to those questions that are of most moment, but postponing these to the last, to allow yourself to be drawn towards them step by step and reluctantly.”

Indeed Nigeria’s national character has played a great role in its diplomatic strategy with, for instance, Boko Haram. Nigeria, that survived not long ago- <30 years from a civil/quasi-tribal war, very complex with over 100 tribal groups, highly politically corrupt, very recent relatively stable democracy, remains very careful in it diplomatic approaches in negotiating peace with Boko Haram, in order to continue to keep the country together.


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