The 2015 presidential race is attracting usual interest from foreign powers, who are invariably supporting either the Peoples Democratic Party or the All Progressives Congress purely for selfish reasons to protect their national interest while escalating the tension in Nigeria
| By Maureen Chigbo | Mar. 16, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
OSTENSIBLY, Nigeria is fighting an unconventional war with Boko Haram, the violent Islamic sect which says that Western Education is dangerous. The war has raged since 2010 but got worse recently with the sect conquering territories in Nigeria with the intention of establishing an Islamic caliphate. But a deep look into the happenstance in the country shows that Nigeria is fighting more than an unconventional war. It is in fact being bombarded by numerous foreign interest groups representing America, Britain, Canada, South Africa, on one hand, and Russia, China, Israel on the other. The interest groups battle for or against Nigeria is strictly to protect their own selfish national interest while pretending to be helping Nigerian government either through the opposition political party, All Progressives Congress, APC, or the Peoples Democratic Party, the ruling party.
The reasons for their engagement in the Nigerian enterprise ranges from economic, political to social issues, which affect these countries as they fight to either make Nigeria strong or weak so that it will be ineffective internally, internationally and in regional affairs in Africa. Those who want to weaken Nigeria premise their case on the fact that a strong Nigeria, which is becoming increasingly defiant, will not serve their interest and could pose a threat to their determining affairs in other countries in West Africa and Africa in general.
America and Britain share a common purpose in wanting a weak leader to emerge in Nigeria. That is why they have been most reluctant to offer real help apart from paying lip service to helping the country in its fight against Boko Haram. The reason for their action is hinged on the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan who they perceive as weak and clueless has thumb his nose on them by having the guts to sign into the law the same sex laws contrary to their expectation.
On January 7, 2014, when President Jonathan signed the Same-Sex Prohibition Act, United States, Britain, member countries of the European Union and Canada objected to the law on grounds that it was an infringement on fundamental human rights of people with same sex orientation. David Cameron, British prime minister and American President Barack Obama heavily criticised Nigerian. In fact, James Entwistle, American Ambassador to Nigerian threatened to sanction Nigeria by withdrawing his country’s aid to Nigeria to fight HIV and AIDS. Entwistle, who said he was aware that “the issue of same-sex marriage was very controversial all over the world, including within the United States where 17 states out of 50 had endorsed it, but others still reject its legality”, added that: “the issue that we see and I am speaking as a friend of Nigeria is that as I read the bill, it looks to me that it puts significant restrictions on the freedoms of assembly and expression; in my opinion which applies especially in advanced democracies, once government begins to say something in these areas, freedom no longer applies. It seems to me that this is a very worrisome precedent.”
Entwistle’s worrisome posture and threats of sanctions smacks of double standard from the way America reacted when Russia signed its own gay laws. As Professor Kayode Soremekun, lecturer, Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria, rightly observed US never “even when the West had their misgivings about Russia’s anti-gay law, they have not gone threatening them with sanctions and punitive action. We are not reckoned with in the international arena where we are getting assistance for HIV/AIDS, Malaria treatment drugs, polio virus crusade among other mundane issues”.
Apart from the LGBT issues, The Western countries are against the incursion of China into the economic sector of Nigeria, especially in the oil and gas sector and the rehabilitation of the country’s rail sector. The West has dominated the oil sector in more than 50 years of oil and gas exploration in the country. This point was clearly articulated by Chineizu, a classic and iconic author, in his article entitled: Soyinka’s 60 Reasons — An Investigative Report. Chinweizu hinged western antagonism against Nigeria to its signing of a $23 billion oil deal with China in May 2010. Chinweizu posits that the oil deal has much to do with Wole Soyinka’s (whom he implied is working for the British intelligence) pro-General Muhammadu Buhari position, or with the orchestrated momentum of the Buhari campaign despite his being prima facie the Boko Haram candidate.
According to Chinweizu, a report about that China deal concluded that: “Western policy on Nigeria is driven by the super-profits generated from the extraction of oil and its processing. While publicly the US and its allies proclaim the need for democracy and openness, this is window dressing. Anything that impedes their drive for profits, whether from local opposition or from a rival nation, will be dealt with ruthlessly when required.” The report further stated that “the latest moves by China will have caused consternation in the boardrooms of the big oil companies, and countermeasures are all but inevitable.”
Chinweizu links this to the events now unfolding in the 2015 elections implying that Britain and America’s pro pro-Buhari campaign momentum are part of the countermeasures; an effort at regime change by orchestrated propaganda. He traces Western antagonism to Nigeria’s signing of a $23 billion deal with China to build three oil refineries and a petrochemical plant which will be located in Lagos, Kebbi and Bayelsa States. The refineries would have a combined capacity of 900,000 barrels per day (bpd), double the expected domestic demand of 450,000 bpd by the time they are completed in 2015. There was also the report that state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation, CNOOC, planned to buy up to six billion barrels of Nigerian reserves in 2009. There was a letter from the CNOOC which expressed interest in the 23 prime offshore fields where Shell, Total, Chevron and ExxonMobil currently operate. “If this were to succeed, it would… mark a significant change in policy for the Nigerian government….. The price of the deal is reported to be between $30 billion and $50 billion… . The Chinese deal may well lead to further tensions with the US,…. He (Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GEJ) plans to introduce a sweeping package of reforms that will result in the privatisation of this state-owned company. While this is in line with US demands, it will inevitably open up further opportunities for China,” Chinweizu wrote.
This, according to him, is the real offence by Nigeria “—opening the gate for China to access Nigeria’s resources for the benefit of ordinary Nigerians and, above all, displacing the big boys from their existing oil blocks.” The writer went on to describe how similar offences were dealt with in the recent past by foreign powers in other countries. “In the Democratic Republic of Congo, China’s attempts to get an oil deal were thwarted by the countermeasures of the United States and the International Monetary Fund. But in the more complex situation in Nigeria, the countermeasures would take time to orchestrate and implement–and to disguise so as to fool Nija mumus”, writes Chinweizu.
He did not state if the oil deal had been concluded. But he said that “even if it hasn’t, the fact that it was being considered would be cause for retribution by the Western powers. Nigeria’s opening to China, initiated by these two deals, would be a beginning of Nigeria’s economic liberation. Whereas the case of the DRC was dealt with swiftly by the IMF and the US, the case of Nigeria would call for more elaborate and convoluted countermeasures. Hence, they are manifesting five years later. “You don’t dare jeopardise the super-profits of the oil giants and expect to get away with it—not unless you are a Vladimir Putin, with control over a big nuclear arsenal, which GEJ (Jonathan) doesn’t have,” Chinweizu said.
If the Western countries who own the multinational oil companies are involved in the war against Nigeria for economic reasons, American government led by Barack Obama is particularly interested in what is happening in the 2015 election apart from the ongoing war against insurgency. This is because of the well-known fact that David Axelrod, who was the architect of Obama’s election and re-election campaign, is involved in the campaign efforts of General Muhammadu Buhari, All Progressives Congress presidential candidate in the forthcoming March 28, presidential election in Nigeria. Axelrod’s firm APKD based in Chicago was hired by Nigeria’s opposition party, APC to ensure victory for its presidential candidate who was a former military dictator. This may explain why the White house has refused to grant aid Nigeria sought for many initiatives including the fight against Boko Haram.
The Obama administration refused to do anything but pay lip service to Nigeria’s requests. But it has used public and private channels to internationally magnify every failure Nigeria’s government experienced. Since the involvement of Axelrod’s firm, relations between the two nations have significantly deteriorated, with the US refusing to sell arms to Nigeria, a significant reduction in the purchase of Nigeria’s oil, and the cancellation of a military training agreement between Nigerian and the United States of America. The cancellation of the military training by the Nigerian government in 2014 signaled the worsening relations between the two countries even though the Buhari led Nigerian opposition used the US government position as a validation for their claim that the Nigerian government was a failure.
Axelrod’s firm admitted to doing work on Behalf of Buhari’s All Progressives Congress party in the past but claimed to have ceased it ties in March 2014 after the Islamist terror group Boko Haram kidnapped about 200 school girls from Chibok. However, emails sent between senior APC party members and advisers show that contrary to the firm’s claims, AKPD has quietly continued to perform political work on Buhari’s behalf as he fights to unseat President Jonathan. For instance, in a series of messages between senior APC officials and advertisers from September 2014 to late January 2015, AKPD polling and other work are repeatedly discussed. “The meeting went well and the report well received. (Governor Rotimi Amaechi) will meet with the AKPD team tomorrow to discuss the facilitation of the even but no dates fixed yet,” APC member Olubunmi Adetunmbi wrote in September 23 email to top Buhari adviser Kayode Fayemi, according to Washington Free Beacon. AKPD’s work is again mentioned in a separate chain of emails sent between Buhari’s running mate, Yemi Osinbajo and Fayemi. “I also think the AKPD surveys also clearly showed that the South West is the battle ground for this election,” Oshibanjo writes in a discussion about boosting election turnouts for the APC.
This notwithstanding, America and Britain are suspected to have influenced South Africa not to sell arms to Nigeria which eventually culminated in cash-for-arms scandal which broke last year. This strained relations between South Africa and Nigeria. South Africa has seized the money which Nigeria imported into the country to buy arms through the black market.
However, America’s close ally Israel also has its reason for being interested in the ongoing war in the country. Israel whose government led by Benjamin Netanyahu whose relations with the White House is tensed right now, is also similarly weighing in the internecine war in the country for purely national interest. In his article entitled: “Israel Will Determine Winner of Nigeria’s Presidential Election” published in Daily Trust of Tuesday, February 24, Ahmed Yahaya-Joe explained that the Isreali interest manifested when President Goodluck Jonathan presented to the National Assembly the 2014 budget proposal for Nigeria’s security architecture, “It included a pitch for a “Wise Internet Network Harvest Analyzer System, Open Source Internet Monitoring System and Personal Internet Surveillance System” put at an estimated cost of $61.2million. It was not until Elbit Systems, a ranking firm in the Israeli military-industrial complex broke the news on its website that it had sealed a deal with the Jonathan administration for $40million to monitor and control the internet and all other forms of telecommunications that Nigerians realised that “Big Brother” had already sneaked up on them.
Israel could also be working to ensure that its relations with Nigeria remains cordial, especially with the fact that President Jonathan’s is the first Nigerian leader to pay a State visit to Israel in October 2014. Nigeria also abstained from the UN vote to make Palestine an Independent State which helped Israel’s position against its arch enemy. It is also believed that Israel could be supplying military wares to the country in exchange for supply of oil.
Similarly, Russia and China are in the war in Nigeria to protect their own interest. Russia could be helping Nigeria militarily to spite US for the role it is playing in galvanizing western countries to oppose its support for Ukraine separatists. Realnews gathered that Nigeria bought tanks and helicopters it is using to fight Boko Haram from Russia.
Also, China is supporting Nigeria militarily and has trained some of the country’s soldiers in counter terrorism warfare. One of the brigadier generals who was trained returned to the country but was assassinated recently in Maiduguri, Borno State, by some rogue elements of the military who alleged that he was the one who betrayed the generals who were sympathetic to the Boko Haram.
The Western interest in the 2015 elections is shown in reports by some foreign media. Major foreign media organisations and think-tanks have written extensively about the general elections. The latest group is the Bow Group, a conservative think-tank based in the United Kingdom. A report entitled: Exposing and Defeating Boko Haram published on the Bow Group’s website and authored by Jacob Zen, a research analyst, who has written extensively about Boko Haram and Northern Nigeria, warned the United States of America on meddling in the politics of Nigeria. “The US is playing a dangerous game,” it says. “There are concerns in the international community and Nigeria that the U.S. Democratic Party or its advisers may be associating themselves with northern Nigerian politicians, despite reported links to Boko Haram. “Any political pact between US officials and the APC carries risks – the US must adopt a neutral approach to the Nigerian elections and political landscape,” the report says. The group also calls for the immediate commission of an international investigation that can bring sanctions against political and business leaders in Nigeria and abroad who are financing Boko Haram.
Also, Alexander Nekrassov, a former senior advisor to the Kremlin and an internationally renowned political analyst, in his article further revealed Russian’s interest in the 2015 election in Nigeria and probably its preference for the Peoples Democratic Party. Nekrassov described the All Progressives Congress and its leadership as “Muslim extremists”, citing concerns within Russia that “losing Nigeria to Muslim fundamentalists is simply a no go”. He also highlighted predictions by Russian military analysts of a rise in violence leading up to the presidential elections, stating “it is worth remembering that the leading APC candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, has been accused of inciting a violent uprising after losing the 2011 presidential election, resulting in nearly 1,000 deaths”.
Despite the antics of the foreign powers in the country, Nigeria is confidently and successfully waging the war against Boko Haram terrorists and has recover some of the territories which the terrorists captured previously. With the intensification of the war efforts by a regional force comprising Niger, Chad and Cameroun, Boko Haram is being routed with thousands being killed by the Nigerian troops who have gained more confidence with all the new armaments including aircrafts and warships which the federal government bought for them.
An intelligence sources disclosed that some of the successes recorded in recovery of big towns in the North-East were due to deployment of new strategies, improved disciplinary measures, sincerity on the part of participating countries in the regional alliance and the acquisitions of latest equipment. In the past, colonels have led direct attacks in accordance with military tradition but because of the large scale desertions recorded, military generals then decided to directly lead the war and this has greatly boosted morale of the soldiers. Realnews gathered that some of the troops that earlier deserted have returned while others have expressed desire to return to the front.
Consequently, “With acquisition of new equipment from various sources and the specialised training of the troops on guerrilla warfare, the military indirectly called the bluff of some deceptive western countries who are now trying to save face by claiming to work with Nigeria’s neighboring countries. This must be the reason Canadian military which was participating in the US sponsored training in neigboruing Niger was asked to withdraw. “The effective collaboration and mutual relationship with our neighbours is paying off as they now realised that inaction can pose disasters to their countries too,” the source said. The military is also trying to capture the leader of the Boko Haram sect alive so he could face war crimes.
So far, as at March 3, the military has flushed out the insurgents from more than 30 communities in the North East including Kukawa Geri, Gujba, Kukawa, Geri, Gujba, Bara, the Headquarters of Gulani Local Government Area of Yobe State and Gulag, the Headquarters of Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa State. Other locations also recovered are Shikah, Fikayel, Tetebah, Buza, Kamla and Bumsa Monguno, Marte, Gamboru Ngala, Dikwa, Baga (Gajigana, Ngaze, Ngenzai, Marte Junction, Yoyo, Kekeno, Kukawa, Cross Kauwa, Kangarwa, Amirari.” Also the terrorists have been sacked from Monguno, Gabchari, Abba Jabari, Zuntur, Gajigana, Gajiram, Damakar, Kumaliwa, Bosso Wanti, Jeram and Kabrisungul.
Major General Chris Olukolade, defence spokesman, in February said that “not even the strategy of mining over 1500 spots with land mines on the routes leading to the town could save the terrorists from the aggressive move of advancing troops. The troops are now dominating and conducting aggressive patrols in the locations. The morale of troops remain high.”
The morale of the troupes were also boosted February 26, when Jonathan paid them an unscheduled visit for a second time. During the visit, he promised that their efforts will be rewarded. His promise followed the statement made by the defence headquarters that all the military involved in the Boko Haram fight will be promoted to the next level and family members of their dead colleagues will be take care of. And the gallant Nigerian soldiers promised the president that never again will any Nigerian territory be seized by the terrorists. Having successfully liberated most of the towns, the troops’ attention has now been focused on consolidation of the security of the areas to pave way for return of citizens to their normal life and for peaceful conducts of forthcoming elections.
Despite the successes the military recorded which has been commended by Nigerian, there is a debate as to whether they should be deployed to monitor the election. The debate was necessitated by the postponement of the general elections slated to hold on February 14 and 28, but now fixed for March 28 and April 11. While the All Progressives Congress is against the deployment of the military, the PDP is all for it. The APC is insisting that only the police should be used for the elections while PDP is for the deployment of both the military and the police to ensure a peaceful, fair and violence free election.
Although the APC is against the deployment of military, the fact remains that the military have always been deployed to maintain peace and order since 1960 when Nigeria got its independence from Britain, former colonial master. The objection of the APC to the deployment of the military is because of an audio video tape which surface recently which purportedly recorded Musiliyu Obanikoro, former minister of state for defence, while in the company of minister of police affairs and governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State promising a military officer that if he makes him happy, an euphemism for rigging election in favour of Fayose, he would ensure that he is promoted. Obanikoro has since denied and dismissed the allegation in the audio tape as untrue and filed a case in court against Sahara reporters.
That notwithstanding, the APC has asked the federal government to thoroughly investigate the taped incident. President Jonathan was recently quoted as saying that the investigation has not been initiated because the soldier who recorded the incident has not owned up. Expectedly, APC has pooh-poohed the president’s position.
However, a federal High court in Sokoto and Court of Appeal in Abuja have ruled against the deployment of the military for general election but the ruling does not preclude the Constitutional powers of the president to deploy the military for operational reason. Many Nigerians have been debating the merits and demerits of the deployment of the military during the elections even though the military which is engaging the Boko Haram terrorists have not said anything about it. But the police, who is statutorily empowered to maintain law and order in civil society, is not objecting to the deployment of the military to help it during the general election.
Emmanuel Ojukwu, deputy commissioner of police and Force Public Relations Officer, told Realnews that “The security situation in the country is very fair. Although there are criminal offences everywhere, people are still going about their normal activities. So it is fair. The war against Boko Haram is on and the military authorities are doing their best and we are hoping that very soon everything will be okay”. He said that the protection of the nation should be everybody’s business. “We all have to be involved in protecting this country. As regards the Constitution, section 218 gives the President the prerogative to deploy the military. The President knows how best to deploy the military. It states the condition when the military should be deployed. Again, the pre-election violence in some parts of the country is coming down. The Police have done some arrest and some of them have been prosecuted. The political parties concerned have entered into peace accord. We believe that before the election, the crisis will be over. And we appeal to the consciences of the parties involved that we do not want violence in the country,” Ojukwu said.
Another policeman, who wishes anonymity, told Realnews: “There is no time the Police alone protects the nation. The Police are just the primary agency that provides security for elections. Note the difference. However, other agencies have support roles to play. There is need for military to be deployed during the election. That will be a deterrent to those who may wish to use armed thugs to disrupt elections in areas where they are not popular.” Citing what happened in Okrika as example, he stressed that “Police at polling booths do not carry guns because their duty there is civil, that is crowd control and maintaining orderliness. And the constitution does not stop the military from election. It provides that the military can act in aid of the civil authority. How do you face gun wielding hoodlums?” he asked.
But Frank Odita, security consultant and retired police commissioner, although acknowledging that the military has achieved much, said that his problem is not with winning the war but maintaining the peace. This is because Boko Haram has done a lot of havoc to the psyche of children who got the wrong indoctrination. Even if Shekau is arrested, he has done a lot of damage which will be with us, Odita said. He is of the view that the police along with other security agencies which should be properly trained should be deployed for the general election while the mobile should also be stationed. Where mobile police fail to do fire power then the military should be called. Odita also suggests that with the court ruling against deployment of the police which is is in order, the government could hire private security firms to assist in the election if the opposition now feels that the military will be used to intimidate it.
Whichever way the argument goes, one thing is clear: Nigeria is in a state of war, according to Article three of the Geneva Conventions Act. The Red Cross which supervises the Act in 2013 declared that Nigeria is fighting a civil war. “We cannot in 2015 deny that the country is not at war, Chidi Odinkalu, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, said.
On his part, Ahmadu Ali, director-general, Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organisation, on March 2, in Abuja, confirmed that the anti-same-sex bill passed by Jonathan was responsible for the lack of support his re-election bid is receiving from the western countries. “People talk about security, this has been going on, it’s not the first time. Shehu Shagari had to deal with the Maitatsine riot in Kano. Now, what is happening is an international thing. The ISIS are all over the world. They are in Iran and Lebanon. This is a branch of them. You can see their flag. We are coping very well. It does not matter what our former partners feel because we passed the same-sex bill. We have culture. We have tradition. We have taken our decision and we will abide by it. Believe you me, the whole of Africa are looking up to us,” Ali said.
Supporting Ali’s view, Anya O. Anya, former director general of Nigeria Economic Summit Group, NESG and a member of the presidential advisory committee on the 2014 National Confab, added that foreign powers have been more meddlesome in Nigeria in the last two years because Nigeria is about to shift so it can build the modern African power. “People outside and those within who don’t like it are collapsing. Hence, the propaganda.” Anya is of the view that Britain is not overtly breathing down Nigeria’s neck because it is more sophisticated but it is very active and dangerous, operating below the surface to undermine the Jonathan administration. “None of them can take a chance on the kind of Nigeria that will emerge if Jonathan is re-elected. America tried to squeeze us by stopping to buy our oil; tried with the LBGTs law, Nigeria call their bluff. Nigeria is the only Africa country in Africa that can change world affairs,” Anya told Realnews in an interview, last week. (See full excerpts of the Interview with Anya in the Cover Box here)
Nevertheless, Nigerians are watching and waiting for the outcome of the general elections to see which of the forces against the country will have an upper hand.
Reported By Fedelia Salami