Can Nigeria Defend Itself?, By ‘Tope Fasua

When will Nigeria start to even be a country that can defend itself against invasion by Cameroon or Niger without having to run to Russia, China and America or whoever else? Or will we only be famous for stacking dollars in the planes of our ‘men of God’, scouting around the world for what we should be producing? Are we not in serious trouble already?

Maybe this is the type of article that causes the ‘intelligence’ people in Nigeria to invite you for questioning. But I don’t mean to impugn their efforts but to make what is otherwise a very simple observation. The question is: If the world went mad again and went into a physical World War III, do we have the capacity to defend ourselves?

Let’s hang that there for a minute.

You see, I’m actually an anti-war campaigner. When the ‘modern’ world bristled and huffed that they wanted to go to war with Ghaddafi in Libya, I was so pained I started a group on social media called “Good People of Africa”, and we gathered over 12,000 members. I spent some money doing that. We tried to campaign that that war was wrong-headed and would destroy not only Libya but the whole of Africa. We have been proven right. The war crimes committed by the USA, France, UK and the rest, have been covered up and since most of the world is not discerning, no one cares and no one knows that thousands of women and children were wasted by ‘coalition’ forces, especially the Americans, who purportedly wanted to remove Ghaddafi by lobbing 20,000 missiles into the heavily populated Libyan capital city, Tripoli. Their missiles and bullets only had “To whom it may concern” written on them, as they mowed down anyone who was unlucky. I hate war. I truly hate war. But the world still goes crazy from time to time. That Libya war was one of my main grudges against Mr. Goodluck Jonathan, because he basically signaled the start of the one-sided ‘war’, being the first African leader to endorse Resolution 1973 with which the United Nation under NATO resolved to go and ‘assist’ the people of Libya by taking out their leader who was ‘killing his people’. It was all fraud.

And it was a harrowing time for me. We saw what happened in the end. Jonathan thought those guys were good to strike a deal with. But they always come for more, and are never satisfied. Our brother Obama – a guy one cannot but love as a human being but who nonetheless saw to the further buckling of the African continent – enabled the bombing of Libya back to the Dark Ages, and with the fall of Libya came an influx of heavy arms into Nigeria and the empowering of whatever it is they call Boko Haram – some small sect which suddenly acquired so much power, money, ammunition and intelligence such that they made mincemeat of us and killed over 50,000 Nigerians. The romantic story being painted around them and the Chibok girls just wants to make one puke. Whoever those guys are certainly have no time for romance and honour. They are drugged-out and cold blooded. I don’t see any humanity in Boko Haram and no one should attempt to lend them some.

Back to the issue of defence. Recently, one of the top military brass under Jonathan was quoted to have complained that ‘the USA refused to sell us weapons; how did they expect us to defeat Boko Haram’. It is that statement that prompted me to examine the issue. The man said it with such an air of finality, helplessness and entitlement; as if we were fighting Boko Haram on behalf of the USA. We could as well have been contractors to the USA with the way our military complained then, and some still do now. However the war was fought on Nigerian soil, fully. And the victims were all Nigerians – but for a Norwegian intern killed in the bombing of the UN Building in Abuja. At the peak of the war, it was obvious that Nigeria was the target, and for anyone who cared to be inquisitive and logical, it was certain that whoever perpetuated that war had serious logistics and intelligence backing beyond some scraggy army put together by one Muhammad Yusuf. The phenomenon called Boko Haram suddenly morphed, to the extent that several times they beat our Army hands down and even seized their entire armoury. They were cocky enough to film their own exploits and release them on social media, while our Army dared not, for the cards were stacked against them. Yet someone said they did not go to school. Some Nigerians have become Boko Haram experts; experts at coming up with fantastic new scenarios that border on the ridiculous each them they are cornered into another illogicality.

If we aren’t at the level of Europe in 1945, where do we start? Meanwhile the world has moved on to supersonic levels. Drones now do the heavy lifting. There are heat-seeking intelligent missiles which can be deployed by young boys licking lollipops 10,000 kilometres away and are so precise in their capabilities.

On the sidelines of the Boko Haram carnage, people like Badeh, Amosun, Dasuki and his boys, and whoever was close to the action (I mean the action of money-sharing while boys were sent to the war front with their bare hands), smiled to their private Fort Knox. They made so much unbelievable money that they didn’t know what to do with themselves. They acquired estates upon estates until there was none left to acquire. It was in that era that Ambassador Oke instructed his wife to keep God-knows-how-much but about $50million is remaining of the heist, in one flat in Ikoyi. It is the secrets of that era, among others, in this luckless country full of untruth, that Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, and Chief Emeka Anyaoku are asking not to be investigated or released because it will be a breach of ‘intelligence’. Sometimes I wonder if Nigeria and intelligence are not a contradiction in terms… ‘Intelligence’ indeed! Expensive ‘intelligence’ and ‘black budgets’ that could not save 50,000 of our citizens, and counting? That ‘intelligence’ stands discredited. I don’t see any intelligence where monies meant for buying weapons are simply converted to personal use, because the military and intelligence top dogs know that they were unto a charade, albeit an expensive charade, which cost so many innocent lives.

I happened briefly on a World War II movie recently and seeing the German Panzers, British F16s, American Frigates and Japanese fighter planes, I realised suddenly in a panic, that Nigeria is not even at the level that these countries were in 1945, and that we are unlikely to get there in this lifetime, because we haven’t even started. This goes for most of Africa, but I think the North African countries and South Africa will get there ahead of us – except sometime suddenly changes. Even Kenya, and certainly Ethiopia will get there ahead of us. Are we not so dependent on their airline now? They may not have manufactured the airplanes but they are taking such good care of them and making a statement to the world. A friend flew Ethiopia with me recently and commented with bitterness that if he were the MD of Airbus or Boeing (aircraft manufacturers), he would refuse to sell to Nigeria, even if she had the cash. This is because we haven’t shown that we can appreciate anything, like the Ethiopians are doing with their aircrafts, and we will cause reputational damage to these big companies when as a result of mismanagement, planes start dropping from the skies. As a Nigerian, I often feel that we are living on borrowed time.

When Richard Quest returned to London after his expensive PR stunt for Nigeria, he couldn’t help but draw one conclusion about the essence of Nigerian-ness. He said that our ethos is, “If we can buy it, why build it?”. And so we buy, buy and buy. We go for the latest of everything and are so arrogant about it. We have nothing. We invent and create nothing yet we act as if the world is beneath our feet. That is a very foolish way to be. Of course we have been complaining like this for decades now, but those who rise to leadership positions have never found the spine to do the necessary.

There is nuclear power. There is cyber war that can throw a country into disarray in a matter of seconds. There are biological weapons that can wipe off entire civilisations in a matter of minutes. Where is Nigeria in all these? Still calling itself ‘Giant of Africa’?

Now, it is important to first of all take care of the bread and butter – food, shelter, clothing for your people. That is the first line of real defence for a people. We are not even there yet on those counts in Nigeria. Then it is important to build industries and an economy. However, without your own physical defense capabilities, all that can turn to dust in a second. A country that depends entirely on the manufactures and thinking of other countries, is really no country, at the end of the day. I fear and shudder for Nigeria.

If we aren’t at the level of Europe in 1945, where do we start? Meanwhile the world has moved on to supersonic levels. Drones now do the heavy lifting. There are heat-seeking intelligent missiles which can be deployed by young boys licking lollipops 10,000 kilometres away and are so precise in their capabilities. There are cluster bombs which are designed to obliterate any and every thing; living or inanimate, in radiuses of many kilometres. There is nuclear power. There is cyber war that can throw a country into disarray in a matter of seconds. There are biological weapons that can wipe off entire civilisations in a matter of minutes. Where is Nigeria in all these? Still calling itself ‘Giant of Africa’? How do our military brass feel about this? And about some of their bosses who have ensured that we are in permanent reverse? What can we do going forward? When will Nigeria start to even be a country that can defend itself against invasion by Cameroon or Niger without having to run to Russia, China and America or whoever else? Or will we only be famous for stacking dollars in the planes of our ‘men of God’, scouting around the world for what we should be producing? Are we not in serious trouble already?

Perhaps we should just remain at the level that we are – being so vulnerable. Perhaps we should keep praying about these and other problems that stare us in the face. Or perhaps it doesn’t matter. But if we choose to continue being an unserious country where nothing works, we should then not call ourselves ‘giants’, or claim that we are keeping $50 million cash for ‘covert’ operations such as ‘toppling governments abroad to pave way for friendlier regimes’ and other such fantasies. Even if we are better than many other banana republics, we should remember that those are not our benchmarks. Nigeria can definitely do better. Much better.

‘Tope Fasua, an Economist, author, blogger and entrepreneur, can be reached through topsyfash@yahoo.com.

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