Beneath The Africom Partnership By Sola Ademiluyi

The Occupy Nigeria movement which vehemently protested against the subsidy removal on petroleum products last year was a clear testimony to the power of people protest against obnoxious policies. Pundits erroneously think that it was the first time that Nigerians collectively opposed and defeated an anti people policy. It is not the first time if we do a critical historical analysis. In 1961, shortly after Nigeria’s political independence, the Tafawa Balewa led government signed the Anglo-Nigerian Defence Pact with the British government – our erstwhile colonial masters. Taking into consideration the fact that the control of the army was still in the hands of the British as General Welby Everald was the General Officer commanding the Nigerian Army, it was nothing short of imperialism. Protests ran through the country – from university students, market women, press, opinion leaders in unison of the total rejection of the pact which was clearly not in the interest of the then young Nation. The pact was immediately abrogated.

History tends to repeat itself as mortals learn the stories but never its lessons. In 2008, the United States African Command (Africom) was established to tackle the security challenges in the African continent. The continent is plagued with an avalanche of daunting security challenges – terrorism being the greatest threat to the continued existence of the largest conglomeration of the black race. The main aim is to strengthen the military capabilities of African armies while the terrorism challenge with its multifaceted dimension is to be tackled by the African States themselves. This may seem like a policy of non interference in our internal security but Africa has to be careful as Uncle Sam does not anchor its foreign policy thrust on the basis of charity. Interest is the key word which has guided its skilful international foreign policy crafting since their triumph of King George III’s army in November 1783.

Foreign interventions from United States have always come at the detriment of the interests of Africa. It is a well known fact that the Oval Office have been shifty when it comes to the spread of democratic ideals in the strife ridden continent. The Central Intelligence Agency has backed the most terrible dictators from Mobutu Sese Seko to Laurent Kabila, Siad Barre, Idi Amin and Muammar Ghaddafi and only moved against them when their interests fell apart. Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, the continent’s greatest Pan-Africanist was kicked out by the CIA because of the close association with the then Soviet Union. The crisis in Angola, Rwanda and the Central African Republic were indirectly fuelled by Uncle Sam who had more than a passing interest in the natural resources of these countries.

African Leaders have to be careful with the presence of Navy seals and the use of the continent as a base for their drones. African leaders should start thinking critically about how to solve their security challenges without external interference. There has to be a great deal of introspection to surmount the security challenges and not running cap in hand begging for security assistance that will never be in our interest.

Most of the security challenges in the continent are a long term fall out of bad and inept leadership. The corruption, dictatorship, unfair distribution of wealth and the other inequalities that triggered the crisis were manmade with the seeds being sown even before independence cannot be solved by merely having external alliances. These are areas the leaders have to assess their peculiar circumstances and find lasting solutions to them. Uncle Sam in an ironic foreign policy twist wants to help Zimbabwe tackle its terrorism challenge despite her slamming of sanctions on her. What is the interest as there is no free lunch? Is there any need for foreign intervention when the real problem lies with Mugabe? The boko haram insurgency in Nigeria for instance is better tackled by tackling the hydra headed monster of corruption, stemming the tide of the massive youth unemployment amongst the numerous social ills. Why wouldn’t youths take up arms when the political class has demonstrated crass irresponsibility and a never ending profligacy? The late Umaru Yar’adua gave amnesty to the Niger Delta Militants. Whatever criticisms it had, it at least greatly reduced the level of crime in the area for sometime before something akin to a relapse occurred. Would it then make sense for Africom to step into an internal problem when the solution lies within?

The security of any country is too strategic for foreign collaboration. The recent tap of western leaders phone lines by the United States is a lesson to African leaders who think the raison d’être behind the setting up of the partnership is altruistic. We should learn from history. The presumed winner of the annulled June 12 Presidential Elections, Chief M.K.O Abiola was alleged to have been murdered by American Diplomats when he took tea. One wonders the logic in the tea not passing through an inspection test by our local security operatives before being given to him. This was the same man who had immense contacts within political and diplomatic circles in America where he first sought refuge after the annulment.

A word is enough for the wise!

@ademiluyitony on Twitter

Africa should start thinking on solving her security challenges