Globalization will continue to favor nations who simply play their part; an efficient government and a productive population. As with the development of ICT the world becomes increasingly connected than ever, it brings with it a double-faced ship in the complication and simplification of international relations among citizens and nations across the globe.
Whether the relations are political, like the African Union, economic like OPEC or social as we see in tourism and sports, they still have the special interconnectedness with them; for example, tourism has the economic side of revenue generation. Every global participant therefore must be careful so it doesn’t suffer monumental loss in international relations as lanes and interests can change in split seconds.
A case in point is the row between Nigeria and the UAE regarding weekly flight quota. Public attention was drawn to the news that the UAE had put a limit on the number of flights from Nigeria allowed into the country for a week to just one flight. As expected, Nigerians kicked against the move by the UAE. To make matters worse, the one slot allocated to the Nigerian airline, AirPeace, stipulated that it should use Sharjah airport as against Dubai airport which is a more preferred destination for most air travelers from Nigeria.
Expectedly or unexpectedly Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority consequently announced that it was also limiting number of flights from the UAE to 1 per week. This did not go down well with the UAE as it described Nigeria’s decision as unjustifiable and went further to explain why it had placed a limit on flights coming from Nigeria into the UAE to 1 in the first place. Many Nigerians hailed the move by the NCAA as the logical or commonsensical thing to do as it appears to have paid off by making both parties come to the negotiating table.
What happened between Nigeria and the UAE is a clear example of the intricacies that surround international relations. An issue which began among non-state actors now has gotten state agencies involved.
One of the main reasons we can insinuate that made the UAE reconsider its earlier decision might be the huge revenue it gets from travel relations between the two countries with other covert factors inclusive. Was Nigeria’s move easy because it was more like a game of card where a deal is met by a direct counter deal? That is, the reciprocity an eye for an eye, not an eye for a foot.
Any smart global actor knows that very few things are extremely certain in international relations as ‘business’ opportunities abound in every nook and cranny, while monopoly becomes very elusive. Recently the US announced it will boycott the winter Olympics in Beijing, other countries like Australia and New Zealand followed suite to the chagrin of China who has warned that the boycotts will bring about grave consequences for the boycotters. But it is not clear yet how or when China will put its words into action as the countries in question are not hosting any international games anytime soon.
Diplomacy, whether hard or soft, requires tact, risk and preparedness. It might be said that Nigeria won in this case as its (counter) action has brought about a concession on the part of the UAE, but then, it should not have come to the UAE placing a flight limit on Nigeria in the first place if Nigeria’s house was in order. This is because further investigations reveal that intra business politics was what led to the UAE action.
Actually, corruption saved Nigeria this time, because it is through the proceeds of corruption that Nigerians have become heavy investors in Dubai, apart from the multitude who go for commerce and those who go for leisure. But Nigeria will not always be this lucky. What if it had no point to stake?
This takes us back to the start of this piece; it is most likely that UAE took the first step through a perceived weakness of the Nigerian state. The UAE may not be blamed out rightly as the saying goes “the way you dress is the way you will be addressed”. Nigeria, the government and citizens together, will have to set its house in order and in so doing project itself as a force to reckon with from all ramifications in international relations.