It was with amusement that I swallowed and absorbed the news that the United States Government had placed a $7m bounty on Abubarkar Ibn Muhammad Shekau, the alleged leader of the Jamaa’atu Ahlis-Sunnah Lid-Da’awati Wal-Jihad referred to in contemporary society as the Boko Haraam.
My amusement was not because I was taking the US bounty unserious but because a key point was ignored by everybody who at the time were talking about it; America did not consult with us before taking upon itself the responsibility of interfering in Nigeria’s internal affairs. To further buttress my point, our president as usual quickly like a very obedient dog dutifully came out in support of this unwarranted foreign intervention in our sovereign national affairs.
The Boko Haraam issue is a matter of national security not international security. It began as a result of internal factors not related in any way with the US and its government. It exploded to its current level because of our government’s ineptitude and lack of a defined counter-insurgency strategy, and it has not in any way or manner threatened the US or its interest whether directly or indirectly.
So the question becomes, what is the interest of the United States and its government in the current situation in Nigeria?
Anybody with a brain in his head knows that today America is the most hated country in the Islamic and Third World countries because of its imperialist policies, its overthrow of populist governments during the Cold War because of a fear of their becoming Soviet allies, its invasion and rape of Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, and Grenada, and its campaign to impose deviant practices like homosexual marriages and legal abortions, and its unfair economic practices.
Also anybody with awareness and knowledge of the current situation in the world today knows that the easiest way to persuade foreign ‘Islamist’ militants to join the Boko Haraam is to prove that America is involved in this war. Knowing this, I could not help but wonder what America’s reasons were that justified it taking such a unilateral action that is guaranteed to make such groups like Al-Qaeda and Mujao re-enforce and support Boko Haraam.
The US government has said many times that although Boko Haraam and Al-Qaeda In The Islamic Maghrib [AQIM] have had contacts, these contacts have been informal and have not led to any concretization of relations, but that is about to change now because America has now declared Boko Haraam and Shekau a target and enemy by placing a bounty on Shekau’s head
While AQIM was formed specifically to wage an armed campaign to establish an Islamic State in Algeria, later evolving into an affiliate of Al-Qaeda Worldwide, Boko Haraam or Jamaa’atu Ahlis-Sunnah only took up arms following the killings of its members by the Nigerian Police Force in Maiduguri while they were going to bury the bodies of another set of Sheikh Muhammad Yusuuf’s followers killed earlier by the same Police Force.
They resorted to waging an armed campaign after Sheikh Muhammad Yusuuf was murdered by policemen extra-judicially and no one was held accountable for his murder and the murders of hundreds of other civilians in Maiduguri, Potiskum and Bauchi during the 2009 crisis, despite the fact that in some cases Al-Jazeera captured policemen and soldiers in videos in the act, as they brutally murdered helpless civilians.
It is even more surprising that Shekau, who has not attacked the US or US interests and neither has he killed US citizens, has the highest bounty of $7m or N1.1bn on his head, while sworn enemies of the US, Mukhtar Bel Mukhtar and Abu Yahya Al-Hammam have $5m and $3m on their heads.
What is America’s interest in the Boko Haraam considering that its bounty may end up helping Boko Haraam evolve from being a militant organization with local ambitions to becoming a member of the global anti-American ‘islamist’ campaign?
The answer may lie in the global struggle between America and a rising China, and between America and a defiant Iran. Nigeria is one of the world’s largest oil and gas producers, we have a Muslim population somewhere above 75 million persons, and in today’s geo-political scene we are increasingly becoming an important and strategic country that any great power must try to control or at least influence the political climate.
Since the discovery of oil in this country, America and other western countries have dominated the sector, treating us poorly and have gradually destroyed our environment and economy, in addition to their sponsorship of human rights abuses and their shortchanging the government of essential revenue. Now China’s oil corporations and other Chinese corporations are gradually expanding their influence and reach to encompass and envelope Nigeria, a situation that is definitely not favourable to the American interests.
America has a strategic petroleum reserve[STR] of 180 days while China with a larger population and military has a STR of 18-20 days, a situation that China seeks to remedy by taking a more major role in the global oil industry.
This will definitely lead to conflicts and confrontations between Chinese and American oil and gas firms as each side struggles to buy up the world’s oil. Today, the US and its allies control the Nigerian economy and oil industry, and recently, Chinese industries have managed to edge out western nations in the manufacturing of consumer goods for Nigerian consumption.
Today, Nigeria is a weak country with a very weak military and political establishment that cannot help but be unable to defy America even when it needs to. This lack of military and political strength has been deliberately encouraged by the US and its allies, the UK and France, so as to keep Nigeria dependent on them, and to keep their corporations in business [see Wikileaks cables].
Because of that dependence, Nigeria has had no choice but to rely on western goodwill for the tenuous peace that we have in this country. It is a known fact that America and the UK especially have played a role in every political crisis that has faced this country from independence till date, for example the British government supported the Nigerian government during the devastating civil war, while France supported the Biafran government. The Dimka coup was initiated from London, Buhari’s coup was sponsored by American businessmen, and after Buhari and Idiagbon came into power and turned against the sponsors, the CIA backed the Banbangida coup that saw Buhari thrown out.
Gen Banbangida devalued the Naira and implemented the disastrous SAP policy, not because Nigeria needed it but because he was under intense American and IMF pressure to implement it, despite the fact that US and the IMF were aware that SAP was a very risky policy with more chances of failure than success.
The June 12 election was annulled because the US and Britain did not relish the thought of an Abiola presidency and it is on record that Abiola was allegedly poisoned by suspected CIA operatives.
More recently during the Yar’Adua succession crisis, then Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan was reported to have solicited US government support through then US Ambassador Robin Sanders in his bid to step into the power vacuum as Acting-President [see Wikileaks diplomatic cable releases].
This American hegemony over Nigeria, will definitely fall should China succeed in obtaining a secure foothold in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, for whereas the US cannot help meddling in the affairs of sovereign states in the name of human rights, democracy and anti-terrorism. China prefers to leave each nation to sort out its internal affairs while doing ‘legitimate’ business with all and sundry.
The case of Sudan and Iran where America has placed sanctions on them because they have refused to become subordinate to American control, while China irrespective of their local politics conducts uninterrupted business with them, provides a clear example of America’s love of hegemony and control over other nations. America knows that should China succeed in securing such a foothold like in Iran, Nigeria would be able to develop economically and advance technologically and militarily to the point of becoming a regional and continental power.
Thus to derail Nigeria, it was necessary that a security crisis be encouraged and allowed to blossom until today our major preoccupation is putting an end to this Boko Haraam challenge, so much so that we have no choice but to rely on America thereby putting ourselves more firmly in American control, and thus shutting out China from obtaining that foothold that it dearly wants.
With Nigeria gradually sliding deeper into a Pakistani Taliban-style insurgency, we are becoming weaker and on the way to becoming an unsecure state halfway to becoming a failed state, which may then necessitate us asking for the US to put its boots on the ground to combat this insurgency. This is what the US wants, for once their forces are on the ground, Nigeria will lose all real independence except in name as anyone critical of this planned occupation will be deemed a terrorist or a terrorist sympathizer and would be then be kept confined in a Guantanamo-style prison locally or rendition to a CIA blacksite abroad.
Already, the US is spending an estimated $150m to expand its embassy here, it has sent surveillance drones to be based in Niger, and there have already been talks of sending armed Predator drones to be used against the Boko Haraam.
To justify putting drones over our skies and placing US soldiers inside our territory, it is necessary that the Boko Haraam formally affiliates with Al-Qaeda Worldwide, and with this $7m bounty on Shekau’s head, expect that very soon, foreign fighters from all over the world would try to enter Nigeria to join the Boko Haraam, and once that occurs, America will simply turn Nigeria into another Pakistan with drone strikes and another Afghanistan with boots on the ground.
I end this with one question; who benefits from a Nigeria at war?