The highly respected Sahara Reporters and Premium Times – the online reincarnation of the defunct Next Newspapers made its teeming readers sad by engaging in yellow journalism. They reported that the United States committed $5 billion to the Multinational Joint Task Force in the fight against the boko haram insurgency. The bubble was punctured when the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the whole that the actual figure was $5million. A friend of mine was so disappointed and expressed his anger on facebook saying that even a local fund manager in Lagos could do much better than that.
The lacklustre attitude of America during the Jonathan administration was so bad that the ‘Giant of Africa’ turned to Russia and China for support to contend with the insurgents that led many soldiers of the once dreaded Nigerian army to desert with their tails in between their legs. Jonathan took his frustration to the Wall Street Journal in an exclusive interview and wondered why the United States who was ferociously battling the Islamic State could be so lukewarm to the boko haram menace when the latter had pledged loyalty to the former. America said it wouldn’t assist Nigeria with land forces and would not also share intelligence with the military.
The then Nigerian Ambassador to the United States Professor Ade Adefuye opined that Uncle Sam was standing in the way of the Nigerian military procuring lethal equipment that would have helped the country end the insurgency long ago. It got so disheartening that Iran, a third world nation voluntarily offered to assist. We recall during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as US Secretary of State; she didn’t designate boko haram as a foreign terrorist organization because she didn’t want to give a domestic group global attention. She has been proven wrong as the seemingly innocuous group that began in 2002 but turned violent after the extrajudicial murder of its founder, Mohammed Yusuf now has links with the Islamic State. Boko haram has now spread its tentacles to other African States such as Benin Republic, Cameroun, Niger and Chad all under the watch of Uncle Sam.
The Al-Shabaab is another terror organization operating in Somalia but has now spread its base to Kenya. The dastardly attack on the Garrissa University and the Westgate Shopping mall in Kenya where thousands were left dead is still fresh in our memories. What was the response of the United States to these attacks? Not much as her interests doesn’t seem to be threatened by the activities of these heartless beasts masquerading as terrorists. The same lackadaisical attitude in Nigeria as shown by the commitment of such a miniscule amount to its fight also points to the fact that her interests don’t seem much threatened by the militant sect. How many American interests are situated in the North-East where the sect largely operates from? Let us contrast this to the Niger Delta Insurgency which saw the White House compel the then President Olusegun Obasanjo to hurriedly negotiate with Asari Dokubo as the oil price globally was badly affected by the activities of the ‘liberty fighters’ from the South-South.
Former Military Head of State, Yakubu Gowon vented his frustration at Uncle Sam when he revealed their reluctance to supply the Nigerian army with arms and ammunition needed to quickly end the war. The same America was busy peddling its military wares to Zaire. In desperation, he had to turn to the then Soviet Union for aid. One doesn’t blame the highly cerebral Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah for turning his back on Uncle Sam and pitching his tent with the then Soviets. One would have expected him to align with the former since he spent a decade there in pursuit of the Golden Fleece. Now his successors with the benefit of hindsight know better.
We all know that the foreign policy thrust of Uncle Sam is powered solely on the basis of interests. We don’t begrudge them for this as there is the need to bring home the bacon. However there should be the milk of human kindness by sparing a thought for the hapless populace caught in the crossfire of a crisis they didn’t generate. It shouldn’t always be about what’s in for them. The corporate social responsibility principle should be extended to this sphere.
It’s also high time African states develop homegrown solutions to their nagging challenges instead of looking for salvation in western climes that prove to be worse than Waiting for Godot. We should give meaning to the word ‘Sovereignty’ by effectively tackling our plethora of challenges.
Going down history lane, many of the coups that set the continent aback by decades were with the overt and tacit support of the west that foisted puppets to keep the continent in perpetual servitude. Walter Rodney’s classic ‘How Europe undeveloped Africa’ has been proven by the events of history to be evergreen. Let us damn America and even our ‘new found friends’ in China and solve this insurgency challenge with our local know how. It’s high time the continent is stopped being treated like an adult child.