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TINUBU’S GOVT FACES TOUGH CHOICES AS Western Military Compete For Space In West Africa

TINUBU’S GOVT FACES TOUGH CHOICES AS Western Military Compete For Space In West Africa...Continue The Full Reading.

Foreign policy and security experts are increasingly raising concerns that military rulers in Niger Republic, Burkina Faso, Mali and the newly elected president in Chad are not only succeeding in reshaping regional security, but also driving a wedge between the Nigerian government and its traditional Western allies on one hand, and on the other between President Bola Tinubu and opinion leaders in Northern Nigeria.

And in more hushed up tones, there is discontent within Nigeria’s military establishment and a handful of retired generals warning that the country should not have to bear the brunt for decisions that are being made in Bamako or Niamey.

Developing events within the West African countries led by military leaders, including Abdourahmane Tchiani of Niger, Assumi Goita of Mali, Ibrahim Traore of Burkina Faso and Mahamat Idris Debs of Chad, have seen them expelling military contingents from France and the United States of America and replacing them with Russian military advisers.

Most recently, it had been Niger Republic and Chad that had cut military ties with the United States though its forces are yet to leave either country.

The city of Agadez in Niger is host to a US air base. The base is used for manned and unmanned surveillance flights and other operations. The US reportedly spent about $100 million to build the base only for the Africa Corp, formerly Magna Group of the Russian military to be preparing to move in.
Speaking late last month on the quit notice given to the US in favour of the Russians, the Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Adm. Christopher Grady said in a recent interview; “We are all trying to establish ourselves as the partner of choice.

“It’s up to us to establish why we think our partnership with them is important. We certainly want to be there. We want to help them, we want to empower them, we want to do things by, with and through them.

“If we are asked to leave, and after negotiations that’s the way it plays out, then we are going to have to recalculate and figure out a new way to do it.”
In response to the expulsion of US forces from Niger, a group of prominent leaders from Northern Nigeria raised the alarm that the government of President Bola Tinubu is favorably disposed to a defense pact with the US that would see them relocate their military base to Nigeria.

They however did not disclose where they got the privileged information from and whether it is imminent.

They made the assertion in an open letter to the president at about the same time when a number of state governors from the Northwest and North-central regions were in the United States for a security summit, which they have denied had any links with the supposed pressure from the US government to build a military base in Nigeria.

According to the Plateau State governor, Caleb Mutfwang, whose position was relayed through his adviser on strategic communications, Timothy Golu, the insecurity facing the country has a lot of international dimensions.

He said the Dialogue on Peace and Security in Nigeria was hosted by the United States Institute of Peace for some northern states governors in furtherance of existing collaboration and cooperation to see how the governors can benefit from some of the intelligence that is at the disposal of their friends and allies and how that can help them to come up with concrete steps and measures.

Speaking on the connection of their visit to the proposed relocation of US troops or building a military base in the North, he pointed out that their visit was in collaboration with the United States Peace Institute to see how they can domesticate strategic ways of handling security issues in Plateau State and northern Nigeria at large.

He insisted that if there was anything like that, it was within the purview of the federal government, not state governors, while stressing that the insights acquired would be strategically implemented to resolve the states’ security issues in today’s interconnected world.

The governor further explained that while in the US, they were able to learn some of the international dimensions to the security crisis and know how to be able to collaborate, tackle and block all those loopholes that give vent to insecurity.

Immediately after the US trip, Governor Dikko Radda had on Channels Television explained that the symposium with the United States Institute of Peace was about ideas that would end insecurity worrying the people as a major problem to the sub-nationals and they carefully chose the governors of the places affected by banditry and kidnapping.

He said; “All of us sat for three days and we were able to cross-fertilise ideas and interact with all stakeholders that are involved in bringing about lasting peace and security globally.”
Governor Radda’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kaula, refused to entertain questions linking their visit to the US and the lobby for a military base, saying; “Security is on the Exclusive List, it is not a state affair.”

In the open letter to Tinubu and members of the National Assembly, the group which included Attahiru Jega, a former INEC chairman, said; “The latest proposal to relocate the American base from Niger to Nigeria coming not long after the suspension of Niger from ECOWAS, with Nigeria’s active collaboration as a result of disagreement between Niger and the US, has many serious implications not only for Nigeria – Niger relations but also for Nigeria’s national security and that of the West African region in general.

“In this circumstance, Nigeria must be bold enough to reject the proposal, if for no other reason than to return a good turn. At least since independence Nigeria and Niger have maintained relatively cordial relations that had always helped in stabilising the sub-region on several occasions. The two countries had come to the aid of one another during their moments of crises.”

Some northern leaders had also challenged President Tinubu in July last year when he drew up a plan to intervene militarily in Niger Republic after the coup that ousted former president Mohammed Bazoum, in effect pushing the Tchiani junta into the hands of Russia and setting in motion, a chain of events that have now led the US in search of a base within the West African sub-region.

Speaking to LEADERSHIP Sunday on the latest development, a scholar of international affairs and public affairs analyst, Dr. Adetokunbo Pearse, said leaders in the North may not have waited too late to speak out against hosting the armies of foreign powers considering that most leaders are aware of this rivalry between the superpowers and are taking sides with one or the other.

“Nothing is too late, this is an evolving drama; the dynamics of politics,” he said.
He added that the northern leaders are not in any way asking Tinubu to take sides with Russia by accepting their role and dominance of the Sahel region, while shutting out the US and France.
Both the Nigerian and United States governments have denied plans to set up a military base in the country.

Mohammed Idris, the minister of information and national orientation in a statement last week described the assertions made by the Jega group as a false alarm. He said; “We urge the general public to totally disregard this falsehood.

“The federal government is not in any such discussion with any foreign country. We have neither received nor are we considering any proposal from any country on the establishment of any foreign military bases in Nigeria.”

The Nigerian government, he said, already enjoys foreign cooperation in tackling ongoing security challenges, and the president remains committed to deepening these partnerships with the goal of achieving the national security objectives of the Renewed Hope Agenda.

In spite of the assurances, LEADERSHIP Sunday learnt of concerns in security circles that the government a few years back under the Muhammadu Buhari presidency may have approved land for the US military somewhere in Lagos and with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean.
Attempts by LEADERSHIP Sunday to get clarification from government agencies, the thinking of the

intelligence community and what they might be advising the presidency on the build-up of foreign troops along Nigeria’s borders and even a military base within its borders met a brick wall.
The Defence Intelligence Agency insisted that it is part of the Armed Forces and referred all inquiries to the director of defence information at the Defence Headquarters. The National Intelligence Agency also turned down requests by LEADERSHIP Sunday to speak on unfolding events.
Bur highly decorated retired military generals have warned the government against hosting a foreign military base in the country.

Major General James Nyam (rtd) advised the federal government against allowing the United States establish a military base in Nigeria.

Nyam speaking exclusively with LEADERSHIP Sunday said countries that had allowed US military bases were destroyed.

He said; “Historically, there is no nation that has allowed the US to have a base that has fared any better; Japan, South Korea, Qatar, Oman, the Philippines, Niger, etc. So, if others have not enjoyed any tacit benefits, why should Nigeria? The US operates a policy of ‘No Permanent Friend but Permanent Interests’.

As soon as your value to them is done, the next thing they do is to throw you under the bus. Our population is too large compared to all the afore-mentioned countries. Nigeria in my opinion should not allow the US to have a base here.

He explained further that there are a lot of factors to consider by the federal government; “What are the benefits of allowing the US to have a base? What has happened to other countries that allowed the US to have a base? What is the effect on our sovereignty? What about neo-colonial implications? So many questions to ponder.”

Brigadier General Sani Kukasheka Usman (rtd) said establishing military bases in Nigeria would present an opportunity for these foreign powers to extend their reach across the continent.
This he said is because Nigeria offers access to crucial shipping routes and abundant resources, cementing its role as a linchpin in regional and global security dynamics.

He said Nigeria had always opposed foreign bases on any African country let alone at home despite being faced with an existential threats from secessionist agitators, Boko Haram terrorist group, bandits and kidnappers which require collaboration with and support from other countries such as its neighbours, as well as developed countries such as France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia, among others.

“The pressure from these two foreign powers is quite obvious. However, while the allure of foreign support to combat security threats is understandable, hosting foreign military bases presents a risk to Nigeria’s sovereignty and may not effectively address the root causes of insecurity in the country. Rather, Nigeria should focus on addressing socio-economic factors that contribute to the root causes of our security challenges by enhancing good governance and strengthening its policing system. It should also enhance military capabilities and foster regional cooperation for intelligence sharing and joint operations. By investing in its security, Nigeria can safeguard its territory, protect its people, and chart its course for a more secure future without any foreign military base on its soil,”.…Continue The Full Reading.>’.

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