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Who is afraid of Nigeria?

by Ahmed Yahaya Joe
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Ahmed Yahaya – Joe

On May 8, 1997 Muammar Gaddafi stormed Kano in clear defiance of UN imposed sanctions that had imposed a No-Fly Zone over Libya since 1992. The Arab fox was welcomed into the warm embrace of General Sani Abacha. With a bevy of beauty queen bodyguards in tow, Gaddafi had previously stopped over at Niamey to pick up General Ibrahim Ba’are Mainasara then the Nigerien president.

 Yours truly was a live and direct eyewitness, an integral part of a sun scorched mammoth crowd that had converged at Malam Aminu Kano International Airport for hours gazing at the trio that drove into the ancient city in the longest convoy I have ever seen.

 Later in the the day the leaders proceeded to Abuja where a trilateral agreement was signed to link the Maghreb and Sub Saharan Africa with a myriad of major infrastructure, economic and military projects. It was an unprecedented dawn of a new era and a beginning of another chapter for Nigeria. Our talent and productivity were to be unleashed on a Pan African stage.

However, by June 8, 1998 Abacha was history. So was Mainasara by April 9, 1999 with Gaddafi holding out till October 20, 2011. Today, Libya is a gangster’s paradise. Nigeria and indeed Niger Republic hanging from insecurity cliff hangers. Meanwhile, all the proposed projects that were signed off in Abuja remain mere historical footnotes on paper.

The Chad Basin spans 8 countries is tremendously rich in Crude oil, Natural gas, Gold, Diamonds and Uranium among others. It is Africa’s largest endorheic basin. What if the accord signed by Nigeria, Niger and Libya had become implementable?

Chances are there wouldn’t be currently over 5000 French troops under the auspices of Operation Barkhane with headquarters at Chadian capital, Ndjamena including a major US military facility in neighbouring Niger Republic. Neither would there be 150 troops from Sweden, 90 from United Kingdom, 70 from Denmark and 50 from Estonia “keeping the peace” across the basin nor 300 Russian troops in Central African Republic.

Curiously, the debate on whether or not foreign troops should intervene in Nigeria to roll back insecurity is increasing in crescendo with even Mr. President openly calling upon the Americans to relocate the AFRICOM headquarters from Europe to Africa. Why is Nigeria and its new bedfellow – France condemning the recent military takeover in Mali but turning a blind eye to exactly the same in Chad?

I remember as a primary school kid each time my late Daddy was listening to the radio, he always had an atlas nearby. It took me decades to realize he was contextualizing the news.

Ever noticed Nigeria and Sudan are the only Anglophone countries in the Chad Basin? As Sudan has its Janjaweed, we have our bandits and insurgents. Both nations are similarly afflicted with elite distrust based on region, religion and ethnicity. Many are calling for the South Sudan solution in Southern Nigeria; is this a coincidence or what?

Agreed, we have our internal issues but are our real enemies external? The pretext of Operation Barkhane is the insecurity pervading the Chad Basin but is such actually contrived by proxy?  Who is afraid of the full potential of a united Nigeria?

“Oh, think twice, ‘Cause it’s another day for you and me in paradise…….Think about it” – Phil Collins in; But Seriously album (1989)

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