- ‘ Cases of rape rise to 84% in Nigeria’
- Dana air crash update: 23 aircrash victims’ families yet to receive compensation
- Mimiko inaugurates new Mother & Child hospital today
- N4.56b pension scam: Female accused hospitalised,trial stalled
- Construction workers hail FG’s decision on Lagos-Ibadan expressway
- Senate adjourns plenary for 1 week, dissolves to Appropriation committee.
- Blackout looms as Egbin power plant breaks down
- FMBN, NEXIM, BOA, IB lose N47bn in 6 months - CBN
- FirstBank wins Nigerian Bank of the Year award
- PDP tackles ACN over Tukur’s comments
- Electricity workers threaten strike over Wamakko
- ‘NDIC prosecuted 55 directors, staff of micro finance banks in 2011’
- Judgment in Oni’s appeal stalled, re-fixed for Jan 8
- Slain banker: Deceased had only 3 wounds -Accused’s father
- Appointments: S/West not marginalised —FCC
America, Boko Haram and Nigeria (2)
IN the first part of this piece last week, I emphasized that Nigeria’s inability to manage its own internal affairs, especially the dire security problems created by Boko Haram terrorism in the North, has opened our country up to all manner of cynical external interference and intrusions, including the possibility that foreign armies may soon be assassinating our nationals on our soil. While I have always blamed our government for what I regard as inept handling of domestic crises, the story is actually much more complex than that. In the first instance, the government has vacillated over the correct approach to deal with local terrorism, thus giving the Boko Haram the temerity not only for grandstanding but also to widen the scope of their attacks and make Nigeria an unsafe place to be. In another instance, Nigeria was asking for foreign assistance to solve a problem whose complexity it did not appear to have fully understood. By this, Nigeria has overtly handed the US the very excuse it requires to undertake any form of diabolical intrusion into our affairs. But the issue of allowing US involvement in Nigeria’s security matters actually predated the present administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. It had begun under President Olusegun Obasanjo when his administration got the US military virtually embedded in our defence establishment, a development which the then Chief of Army Staff, General Victor Malu, vehemently protested and for which he was swiftly cashiered. But the issue is much more complex than what Nigeria alone can handle now. Not only is Boko Haram now suspected to have links with other known terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Al-Shabab in Somalia, both of which have been on America’s gun-sight for quite some time now, but it is becoming increasingly complicated by reports of linkage with events currents unfolding in northern Mali where an Islamist terror group and remnants of Gaddafi’s mercenary fighters are slugging it out for control of the Sahel region they have re-named Azawad. Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the US government has impounded increasingly authoritarian powers of lawless behavior into the office of the President. The passage of the law termed the US PATRIOT Act by the Congress has conferred virtually unchecked powers on the President to violate the rights of its citizens at home and abroad, and to wage war on terrorism abroad. This explains why America has been able to globalize its anti-terror offensive without the slightest regard for the rights and security of other nations and peoples.
A government that enjoys such vast unchecked powers to violate its own citizens’ rights and liberties at home cannot be expected to respect same abroad. And President Bush left no one in doubt that he would violate the sovereignty of nations and the civil rights of their peoples in his unilateral campaign to rid the world of the menace of terrorism. Addressing the US Congress in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, President Bush had said categorically that the US “would take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge. In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act.”
He made it quite clear that all countries had a choice to make: either to stand with the US or be accused of siding with the terrorists. He pointedly threatened that America would henceforth “direct every resource at our command — every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war — to the disruption and defeat of the global terror network.” In the same breath, he also made it plain that the US “will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism.” These are unmistakable indications that the war on terror would be ruthlessly waged around the globe without any pretence to civility or respect for international legal niceties or respect for the rights of peoples or nations suspected of aiding and/or harboring terrorists and terrorist groups. Addressing the graduating class at the US Military Academy, West Point, in June 2002, President Bush declared that this war on terror would require the armed forces to “be prepared for pre-emptive action when necessary” because, according to him, some nations which claim to oppose terrorism also “tolerate the hatred that leads to terror – and that must change.” He boasted that America would “send diplomats where they are needed, and we will send you, our soldiers, where you are needed.” Decoding these speeches, it is crystal clear that the US administration had, as respected Professor Ali Mazrui observed, adopted the doctrine that “the United states could be better defended at home by waging war abroad.” It was clear therefore that the war on terror would be fought by all means —— diplomatic, economic and military. It was in the aftermath of these developments that most countries felt psychologically coerced into openly declaring their stand against terrorism, or they risked being branded as supporters and sponsors of terrorism. In fact, a number of African countries such as Kenya and South Africa had no choice but to hurriedly adopt domestic anti-terrorism legislations to please the US, otherwise their tourism-dependent economies would be in jeopardy. Don’t forget that the US is very fond of using carefully worded ‘travel advisories’ to whip developing countries that depend on tourism and foreign direct investment into conforming with US instructions.
Since 9/11, America’s presence and activities in West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea, both of which are Nigeria’s primary areas of interest, have become more brazen and intrusive. We witnessed this in the summer of 2004 deployment of a large US naval task force into the Gulf of Guinea, a show of naval power that was not intended to impress but to demonstrate America’s firm resolve to pursue its interests by military means. But a much more ominous and sinister action at the time was the Pan-Sahel Initiative, a policy framework which was intended to enable America use ‘local forces’ in the states of the Sahel region to combat perceived Islamic terrorism. There is also increasing military ‘cooperation’ with some of the states in West Africa, the most significant and open being with Nigeria. There are other more secretive forms of collaboration with other governments for the purpose of prosecuting the ‘war on terror’.
Official US aid is being poured into the West Africa sub-region not to address the critical needs of these states but to strengthen state capacity to prosecute or contribute to the prosecution of the so-called war on terror. There is a clear and present danger that Washington’s blind pursuit of people and organisations that it has unilaterally defined as terrorists, and in Muslim-dominated states for that matter, is being done with scant regard for the fundamental human rights of the citizens of these states. The possibility that America’s political and military activities in the region would provoke religion-based conflicts and violence can only be discountenanced at great risk. Arising from the preceding analysis, it is crystal clear the type of dangers to national security that Nigeria may have to contend with, not just because of the three Boko Haram operatives newly designated as global terrorists, but much more importantly because of the series of mutual cooperation between the US and several West African countries, including Nigeria, since America unilaterally globalized its war on terror. The United States has been employed all manner of subtle and ingenious subterfuge to secure multilateral cooperation to enable it pursue terrorists across West Africa and the Sahel region, most of which are currently being coordinated by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM).
It is therefore imperative for Nigeria to be proactive in dealing with this burgeoning domestic menace before the Americans start doing it for us and to the detriment of the security of Nigerians. As happened in several cases in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, no one really knows the number of innocent people —— men, women, children, the aged and the infirm —— that have fallen victim as collateral casualties of America’s indiscriminate drone missile attacks and bombings while chasing so-called terrorists in those territories. If these examples of reckless mass murder of innocents in other countries are any guide at all, America would not hesitate to do the same in Nigeria and against Nigerians. It would be a sad day when foreign military forces start to callously murder Nigerians on their own soil because their own government has proven it is unable to address certain domestic security challenges.