Is Nigeria now planning to cooperate with AFRICOM, or waffling about a decision?

Recently, the minister of foreign affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, briefed reporters on the latest position of Nigeria with regards to the US Africa Command (AFRICOM).

… Maduekwe said that Nigeria had examined the US proposals on AFRICOM and found them suitable for the survival of the nation, arguing further that Nigeria should not “maintain a cold war posture by exhibiting old communist anti-West stance”.

… “many of the pundits who have been engaged in the strident debate on AFRICOM have failed somehow to come to terms with the fact that AFRICOM is no longer a matter of hypothetical conjecture, but a reality….. In other words, AFRICOM is already a fait accompli and what ought to be Nigeria or Africa’s major preoccupation at this point is how to parley and make the best of this new initiative…..”

“In this regard”, according to Ambassador Hart, “Nigeria ought to consider herself as a strong ally of the US and give AFRICOM the required cooperation….It is pertinent to mention that the chosen country (or countries if there will be mini-bases) will enjoy the lucrative economic benefits traditionally enjoyed by those countries that host American bases around the world…..It is believed that the African country that comes out to host AFRICOM will be better off in the end”.

This sure sounds a lot like the “joke” that got McCain in trouble for a fundraiser hosted by

Clayton ‘Claytie’ Williams, a Texas oilman who joked about rape when running for governor in 1990. Williams had compared rape to the weather, saying, “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.” He later apologized.

If AFRICOM is inevitable, just relax, enjoy it, and take the money.

As Abba Mahmood, the author Still on AFRICOM in Leadership points out:

If President Yar’Adua is surrounded by a foreign minister who sees the AFRICOM issue not from the point of view of sovereignty but from the narrow perspective of a moribund ideology and a foreign affairs adviser who looks at the issue purely from short term economic gains of a few (pockets) without taking into consideration the long term security implications of exposing the country to sure terrorist attacks, then one does not have to wonder why Yar’Adua’s position keeps oscillating between hypocritical neutrality and outright blind support for this dangerous enterprise.

The questions to be asked are: Will America contemplate establishing a military command in Africa to help the Africans?

Secondly, what military lessons can the US teach Africans in general and the Nigerian Armed Forces in particular?

Checkout the American military records: they were chased out of Somalia by a rag-tag militia under Clinton. They had to send UN troops, including Nigeria’s, to that country to take charge in the early 1990s. The US invasion of Afghanistan is still inclusive as the president they imposed, Karzai, is in charge of only Kabul, the capital about six years after.

In Iraq, American troops are still battling the insurgents with many US casualties and billions of dollars in a lost cause. So, what will American soldiers teach our soldiers in this “long existing…..military relationship” that Maduekwe was referring to?

In comparison, the Nigerian Armed Forces have been excelling in all their international peacekeeping engagements around the world for almost five decades now. The Nigerian Armed Forces helped to stabilise our sister ECOWAS country of Liberia and even flushed out soldiers and reversed a coup in neighbouring Sierra Leone. In fact, the Gen. Malu- led ECOMOG in these two countries is still considered the finest peacekeeping model in the whole world!

And America may be a particularly weak reed to cling to right now, with an unpopular lame duck president who:

has so far brought untold hardship to his fellow citizens and made the whole world insecure by his military misadventures.

The US is not dealing from a position of strength:

Another issue is that the US is in decline economically. It is right now the largest debtor nation on earth. Investing in the US is now risky. Even oil transactions that were being done in dollars are now being diversified with many countries advocating for a basket of currencies due to the decline of dollar power. Real wages for the majority in the US have largely stagnated or declined and are now close to the lowest level among industrial societies.

The number of people who go hungry because they cannot afford to buy food rose to over 38 million in 2004 (12 percent of households) an increase of 7 million in the first five years of the Bush administration. How can we mortgage our interest to a power that is on terminal illness due to injustices perpetrated by their leaders across the world?

As Mahmood concludes:

If a nation cannot feed its population, it is not independent. Similarly, if a nation (or continent) cannot guarantee the security and territorial integrity of its area, then it is not sovereign.