Nigeria needs to radically change its security policy, an create a new defense architecture as a replacement to the West. The prime candidate of such a pact should be Russia, and China- countries prepared to pledge military aid and support on a collaborative basis with mutual respect, a stark contrast to the United States that attaches ridiculous conditions to military aid.
It’s not hard to figure out why the reliance on the West for military aid borders on insanity. For nearly a decade the United States and Europe have regularly denied Nigeria’s request for the purchase of specialised military hardware and even went as far as putting the kibosh on arms agreement between her allies and Nigeria, the worlds 4th biggest democracy, citing human rights issues.
Paradoxically the United States and France has for the last five years consecutively poured hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military aid to the only non-democratic countries in the region. The United States supplied transport helicopters to Cameroon in 2016 and completed a drone base in the Cameroonian city of Garoua.
France recently sold to Chad 200 MILAN II anti tank missiles, to upgrade the country’s stock of MILAN I anti tank missiles via credit facilities and operates an airbase with a squadron of Mirage 2000 fighter jets. The United is building $100 million Reaper drone base to compliment an already drone base in Niamey, the capital of Niger Republic.
Nigeria is America’s largest trading partner in Africa and modelled its system of government on the U.S Federal Executive system. France has more investments in Nigeria than it has in all Francophone speaking countries in Africa combined.
So why the malice towards its long-time ally Nigeria?
Alliance’s lose credibility when they no longer reflect political reality. America’s military commitment to Nigeria is still “genuine” on paper, but c’mon, no amount of lofty rhetoric can now conceal the fact that America’s commitment to Nigeria has waned, the Obama administration set the precedent.
The three French speaking countries have effectively signed an unofficial defence pact with two of the most militarily powerfull countries in the West for refuelling and repairing facilities of American and French aircrafts, Intelligence gathering facilities and drones on a massive scale to contain growing Boko Haram threat? Really?
Formal military alliances and cooperation between France and the United States and Niger, Chad and Cameroon in the form of sales and supply of military hardware, joint training and exercises against the so called ” Boko Haram threat” in Nigeria is superfluous and irrelevant. There is no enemy, real or assumed to justify the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent in military bases and facilities in all three countries bordering Nigeria.
Nigeria should be wary of military alliances conceived by big powers to spread their sphere of influence. There is simply too much at stake for us to assume their actions are benign.
Nigeria sits atop one of the largest oil reserves on earth with a proven oil reserve of 40 billion barrels and has the 4th largest natural gas reserves in the world.
In the South West Lagos recently became the first South Western state to joined the league of producing states in Nigeria.
Up north, Borno state recently became the first northern state in Nigeria to joined the league of oil producing states in Nigeria after huge oil deposited were discovered in the Lake Chad basin, an area contested by Chad.
Niger Republic sits atop the largest deposit of uranium in the world.
Massive oil explorations in Camerooon’s Bakassi peninsula is already showing positive signs.
West Africa is fast becoming the middle of Africa; huge oil reserves, constant conflicts that seemingly spring out of no where. West Africa has developed largely because of the stability Nigeria’s military and economic created. If that guarantor is shaken the region will easily descend into chaos, allowing the powers that be to intervene and pursue their agenda.
The Franco American military cooperation with French West Africa is nothing more than a ploy to encircle Nigeria. We now have the Moroccans making overtures to join ECOWAS. The audacity of this request bears testament to the fact Nigeria’s clout in the region is systematically being chipped away.
These increasing military cooperations between Nigeria’s neighbours and the Franco-Americans should ring alarm bells in Abuja and provoke Nigeria to seek strategic military partnerships with Russia and China, afterall it is Russian and Chinese military hardware that helped Nigeria turn the tide of the war with Boko Haram.
China spent $60 billion in Africa in the last 5 years, the bulk of it in infrastructural projects. The Chinese are involved in the expansion of Nigeria’s railway infrastructure. The majority of Nigeria’s space sattelites were launched into orbit from Chinese launch pads.
The partnership between both countries in the economically is pretty significant we can extend this partnership to the defence sector. The scramble for Africa is in full steam, and China is becoming a major player in the continent. Last year China opened its first international military base in djibouti, the Chinese will be more than happy to partner with Africa’s most significant economic and cultural power.
In August 2017 the Russian federation agreed to cooperate with Nigeria in its fight against terrorism and insurgency in the hotly contested Lake Chad basin region, this will be a significant counter balance to the French in the area.
Russian made Hind helicopters played a significant role in Nigeria’s air campaign against Boko Haram. Nigerian Special Forces were also trained by the Spetnaz (Russia’s Special ). Sympathetic to Nigeria’s struggle against Boko Haram China has been more than willing to sell high tech specialised weapons system suited for counter insurgency operations.
In the space of 14 months China sold Bigfoot MRAPS (Mine resistant ambush protected) and five CH-3 Rainbow armed drones to aid the Nigerian Army in its fight against Boko Haram. They also delivered three Stealth Offshore Patrol Boats to Nigeria to help the Nigerian Navy’s fight against piracy.
Enter the United States, Nigeria’s largest trading partner in Africa.
Israeli transfer of supplus AH-1W Viper attack helicopters to Nigeria was blocked by the Obama administration citing human rights issue.
Similarly a $500 million deal between Nigeria and the United States for 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft tailored for Counter Insurgency operations to bolster Nigeria’s efforts to combat Boko Haram, the worlds deadliest terrorist group was rejected with the most derogatory insulting of reasons reminiscent of America’s arrogance.
First U.S policymakers in their hypocrisy said America has a “strong desire” to help its ally and most important trading partner in Africa combat terrorism, but it undermines U.S corruption policy as it overlooks human rights abuses.
Another reason given was that Nigeria can not afford it because the cost of the planes was too staggering. Africa’s richest economy and the 21st largest economy in the world is too poor to afford $500 million worth of aircrafts. ” in liey of costly warplanes, Nigeria would be wise to invest half a billion in its marginalized northeast to address chronic poverty and food insecurity.
As recently as May 2016, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield specifically mentioned U.S. concerns over Nigeria’s use of airpower in her testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee :
“Last year you will know that we turned them [the Nigerian government] down for Cobras [attack helicopters] because we were concerned about their ability to use those and not have them have an impact on their communities”
But the United States have no qualms providing “unsolicited ” military aid and assistants to the only two non democratic despotic regimes in West Africa. To arguably the most human rights repressive regime in the Middle East -Saudi Arabia.
In August Nigeria’s Minister of Defence , bri-Gen Mansur Dan-Ali (-rtd) attended the annual International Games 2017 in Russia, where he announced that Nigeria is considering the purchase of Russian military hardware. He said Nigeria is interested in acquiring the MiG 35 fighter jet and the Yak-130 trainer fighter jets, artillery guns and amoured vehicles.
In 2015 Nigeria placed an order for a full squadron of the new Mi-35 helicopters gunships with night mission capabilities. Three have so far been delivered and inducted into the NAF with a further ten expected in the coming months. No conditions, no clauses, no hypocritical political correct mumbo jumbo that have no basis in reality.
He also announced Nigeria is planning to participate for the first time in the 2018 International Army Games in 2018. Peeling away the diplomatic innuendos the message is clear to Franco American military activities around Nigeria – Nigeria is seeking assistance and cooperation from Russia and China in the West African sub-region.
All around the globe Russia has been doing very well in fighting terrorism. It is playing an important role in the Middle East. It has been instrumental in the fight against ISIS and has forge close military with Iraq.
Nigeria has long been commited to strengthening democratic governance and peace and stability in the region like it has historically done. France and until recently the United States are both very powerful and influential powers with a clear agenda – not to promote economic prosperity and democratic values, but to enhance Nigeria’s dwindling influence in the region by creating enough instability and strife in Nigeria, thereby destroying the very force that has fostered economic cooperation and security cohesivenes for nearly half century.
A military strong and powerful Nigeria has long been the referee in conflicts between countries in West Africa. The Franco American power wants West Afrucan cohntries to stay disunited.
France has never been a friend of Nigeria and will never be. Now is the time for Nigeria to review its outdated military architecture and forge closer military ties with Russia and China officially and severe unproductive military ties with the West. Nigeria can ill-afford to turn a blind eye to the subversive activities being perpetuated in the region by external powers , and as we have seen all to many times they are willing to work with despotic regimes against a democratic state to foster their agenda.