Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard about AFRICOM. According to President Bush, AFRICOM "will strengthen our security cooperation with Africa and create new opportunities to bolster the capabilities of our partners in Africa, ... Africa Command will enhance our efforts to bring peace and security to the people of Africa and promote our common goals of development, health, education, democracy, and economic growth in Africa.”

Now, of course, we commoners do not know the details of any such agreement between the U.S. and whatever African countries will sign up for the 'partnership'. So, it is quite possible that when the ink dries, any partnership will not only benefit the U.S. but will also benefit Africa.

In the interim, let us turn our sights to Nigeria. All the chatter in the U.S. regarding AFRICOM suggests that Nigeria has signed up for the partnership. I have not heard anything from Obasanjo's administration but what I have heard and read from the mouths of the U.S. military establishment makes it clear that Nigeria is in cahoots with the U.S. This gives me great cause for alarm. I am nervous about the militarization of American international policy particularly in the Gulf of Guinea, an area historically fraught with tension, violence, military domination and dictatorships and a quality of life that is abhorrent.

If you are wondering whether the U.S. currently has a military presence in the Gulf of Guinea, consider that U.S. military ships are at this moment patrolling the Niger Delta region with permission from Obasanjo. The U.S. military is also assisting the Nigerian government in beefing up and securing our northern border from terrorists (shudder!).

As I said above, it is quite possible that Nigeria will benefit from this arrangement. But from what I have seen and heard, there is little benefit for the ordinary Nigerian. Not yet, anyway. What is apparent is that this 'collaboration' is not one between equals. Whenever there is an unequal relationship, the smaller partner will undoubtedly get swallowed alive.

Anyway, I am concerned that the militarization of the Niger Delta will only cause more friction between the various forces that are currently fighting for control and/or access to oil revenues. By bringing in more military equipment and 'better trained' soldiers (be they American or Nigerian), the conflict between MEND and the Nigerian military will simply escalate, leaving the poor to suffer the consequences. Such military escalation will do very little to improve the living standards of the various ethnic groups that call the Delta home - the Ijaws, the Kalabari people or the Ogoni who are only three of approximately 65 nations that live in that region.

Additionally, assuming that AFRICOM is eventually headquartered in Sao Tome & Principe (within Nigeria's sphere of influence and close to our territorial boundaries), it will militarize a region that historically has been fraught with military repression and dictatorships (as mentioned above).

Of additional consequence is the possibility that the presence of America in the Delta Region will attract anti-American radicals into a region that is already unstable and in desperate need of democracy and not more conflict. Can you imagine the instability of Iraq taking place in Nigeria? God forbid! I would never wish such madness on anyone. However, one cannot ignore the fact that the presence of American soldiers in Iraq has drawn groups and individuals into Iraq with the sole purpose of attacking American interests.

The relationship and partnership between Obasanjo and the Bush administration on this matter illustrates the lack of commitment to democracy by Nigerians and our leaders. This is not the first time that Obasanjo has entered into agreements with the U.S. without allowing elected officials to have a say. Such action, sanctioned by the U.S., simply reinforces for many that Obasanjo does not have the nation's interest at heart. For many, this sentiment is extended to the U.S by default. The inability of Nigerians to have a robust debate on this issue and therefore influence whether or not a 'collaboration' would take place, reinforces that our society lacks a concrete understanding of accountability and the fact that if you don't like your representatives, you must then vote them out of power. Sadly, by partnering with Obasanjo, the U.S. has intentionally/unintentionally taken advantage of this mentality to its benefit and our detriment.

Well, it is our fault. Na we wey de do mumu. Can you blame someone for taking advantage of our situation? I know I can't as I probably would do the same if faced with the issues America faces - the potential interruption of oil flow and the potential security threat posed by radicals and terrorists. This fact must cause all Nigerians and those sympathetic to Nigeria's need for democracy to ask, who will fight for Nigeria? Our 'leaders' clearly do not have our interest at heart. Only God knows why. But as I noted in a previous post, 'White Man's Magic', our 'leaders' do not consider their constituents to be intelligent, enterprising people but rather, lazy and inferior. Taking that attitude into account, it is clear that such leaders can neither be trusted nor expected to "hold the reins of power and lead effectively."

So, again I ask, 'Who will fight for Nigeria'? I hope that our 'leaders' will realize that the cure to solving the instability in the Delta is to improve the quality of life of those who live there, not introduce more guns and artillery into the area. Unfortunately, I have no answer to my own question and lack any positive insight on this situation. As I noted above, the ink is yet to dry on this 'collaboration', so, I will remain cautious and pray for the best because only God can fight for Nigeria. E be like say our own wahala don pass human intervention.

Further Reading:
- AFRICOM: The Dotted Line Has Been Signed
- A Bush In Africa
- A Liberian's Thoughts on AFRICOM
- Nigerian Presidential Elections Back In The Spotlight

4 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Anonymous said...

That's the Nigerian leadership principle: everyone is automatically assumed to have more stupidity than you do. When you encounter someone who's wiser, he's a troublemaker. Oh well!


You couldn't have described the situation more precisely. Thanks for stoping by!

Omodudu said...

That is what we have to live with.

Nilla said...

Couldn't post my comment in the morning, cos the word verification thing wasn't showing.
Now I've forgotten most of what I had to say :-(

Anyways I don't think I like the sound of AFRICOM....

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