U.S. As Nigeria’s Big Brother? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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COLUMNIST, Hardbeat

U.S. As Nigeria’s Big Brother?

Posted: Aug 9, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

hardbeat

Renewed interest of the US in Nigeria is almost with frenzy. And there is so much excitement at home to the extent that the cost and import of the new found rhythm of diplomatic tie may be lost to common sense. But Nigeria does not really need a Big Brother so to say but rather mutual friendship which the US arguably betrayed and debatably though, in the recent past when the country needed genuine friends to show understanding. In the emerging interplay of global power, the simple truth is that US needs Nigeria much as Nigeria needs recognition from any quarters across the world.

Beyond the much acclaimed integrity of the new man at the helm of affairs in Nigeria which has been widely touted as the reason for the new rhythm in US diplomatic approach, there is more to the renewed love for Nigeria than the we are been made to believe. For the avoidance of doubt, the reason for the scramble for Nigeria, so it seems, is not just about helping Nigeria but also about projecting US interest in the sub-region. More than helping Nigeria, the interest of the US in the fast emerging global market particularly with the rise in the influence of the Asian Economy is what is at stake.

Nigeria as the most populous country in Africa is also critical and if not central, to the relevance of the control of global economic and power in the Continent. The US like other global powers recognises what is at stake and one only hope Nigeria also appreciates this dynamics and therefore be strategic in taking maximum advantage rather than accept the facade of being treated like pitiable fall guy in the ensuing diplomatic repositioning.

Beyond this facade however, ongoing effort by the US in demonstrating renewed believability in Nigeria comes with a huge burden regardless of how much the contrary would appear as the factual. By depicting Nigeria as the fall guy in the ongoing diplomatic fence-mending, the US is subtly discharging the burden of ‘reclaiming’ a relationship it betrayed and as well reasserting its fast dwindling influence. Nigeria may have much at stake in the relationship; the truth however is that the US had little or no choice in the face of emerging centres of powers across the globe.

The non-committal of the US towards Nigeria in the face of threatening challenge of Boko Haram on the pretext of appalling level of corruption in the country and human rights record of the military was largely preposterous and hypocritical. Although it turned its back on Nigeria in the face of the threat of terrorism, the US must have realized Nigeria was nonetheless mustering the capacity and coping with the challenge of Boko Haram, though in the face of mounting challenges. If the US and its allies now make so much an issue about promises of helping Nigeria combat terrorism, we should rather ask where they are coming from and on what scores. Would Nigeria now abandon friends who in the face of all odds offered assistance when all what US could offered was to mobilize its allies for blockade against Nigeria?

There is a way US offer of military assistance to Nigeria which came with the announcement of the lift of the embargo on arms sales to Nigeria sounds self-defeatist on the face of it. What was the cost of blockade on Nigeria’s access to arms when it mattered most and who were supposed to be the beneficiaries of such policy? The US must be prepared to admit its error of judgment on Boko Haram; deliberate or not rather than pretend that its action was the best for the country. More than offer Nigeria military assistance to combat terrorism as this level, the US would be more helpful in letting the world know who the sponsors of Boko Haram are and where the arms deployed by Boko Haram came from with the same eagerness it has shown in exposing those behind Nigeria’s stolen wealth.

It must be reckoned that beyond the issue of corruption and human rights which became the plank upon which politically motivated vilification of the military was orchestrated, it is on record that the US ab initio refused to categorize Boko Haram as a terrorist group in spite of overwhelming grounds to justify such categorization which included the bombing of the UN office in Abuja.  Nigeria is already on the world map of terror and now that the US is willing and ready to help we can only hope the situation would not degenerate in the face of possible clash of interests in the global field of arms trade. This precisely must be of greater interest to the authorities in Nigeria as the dynamics of terror as a global threat pose ramified implications in the global contest and control of world power of which legitimate arm trade as well as illicit arms trafficking are dominant features.

It is therefore not just about cheering US volte-face on terrorism in Nigeria but also more about the implications for the future of the country giving that the long journey ahead of Nigeria in dealing with the objective conditions that gave rise to terrorism. Whatever the case, Nigeria needs to choose her friends carefully and not necessarily a Big Brother in the emerging dynamics of global politics.