OPINION: The Drones Are Here, Dont Look Up
In 1962, France conducted a nuclear test in the deserts of its former colonial territory, Niger. Nigeria and a few other nations were outraged. Nigeria took very strong steps to protest, including a suspension of diplomatic relations with France. Niger Republic was made to feel the anger of a very intimate neighbour, but is doubtful if it could have done anything about it. In 1964, Israel gave a few million dollars as foreign aid to Nigeria. Although foreign policy was in the exclusive list, the Northern Regional government decided it was not going to accept any part of the aid for political reasons. The rest of the country shared the aid. During the Nigeria civil war, France worked frantically to whip up support for the rebel cause, and having recognized Biafra itself, succeeded in getting a few African countries to support the breakup of Nigeria. It lost its cause, and promptly found new opportunities in the Nigerian economy and market that soon became one of its largest in Africa.
From the early 1970s until the successful establishment of ECOWAS as a regional economic grouping, Nigeria and Togo run into French resistance at every turn. Nigeria in particular was seen by France as a major potential rival in francophone Africa; and Nigeria in turn viewed France as a major obstacle in the attempt to fully decolonize West Africa. In 1975, Nigeria took momentous decisions to challenge European support for apartheid, and flexed its muscles in a historic series of events that dealt fatal blows to a regime that drew its life blood from Britain, France, Holland and a few others. Nigeria rallied Africa around a resistance against a system that negated every element of our humanity. The system crashed a few years later not only in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau, but in its most fortified enclave, South Africa.
A nation of 170million people, with resources and potential to become a leading world economic power became content to be ignored or pushed around by smaller nations, or others who previously trembled over its anger on matters that affected Africa. It is now at a stage when the British Prime Minister will announce plans to investigate how its leaders used the trillions of dollars it earned. It is the nation which is begging, knees on the ground, the United States, Britain and everyone else who cares to look in, for help to deal with a home-grown insurgency, even though they all give the same response: look inwards, the answers are there. This is the nation which a few years ago joined the rest of Africa in resisting the creation of bases for operations of a United States Africa High Command (AFRICOM); but is now asking the same US for any help to deal with a domestic security threat.
This nation, without muscle, vision or respect, is now a cheerleader for a French blitz in Mali. Its troops will sacrifice lives and limbs, earn a few dollars, and probably be allowed a few crumbs in equipment, but they will only legitimize French and its allies’ recolonization of Africa. This is the nation which is now a spectator in an unfolding drama which will expand the threats in Africa, and secure strategic, long-term interests of western nations.
The drones which will have bases in Niger Republic will make profound statements over the abject impotence of Nigeria in influencing affairs around its citizens and Africans. They will tense up and complicate an already delicate security situation. They represent intolerable threats to the remnants of our territorial integrity and sovereignty, and they should not be allowed to stay. The government of Niger Republic should be prevailed upon to review its agreement to provide bases for U.S drones. If the administration of President Jonathan is unable or unwilling to this, citizens should raise their voice until it does. We may be sinking as a nation, but we have not hit the bottom yet.
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