• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Don’t allow US, French military bases in Nigeria, Northern leaders warn Tinubu

Russia declares temporary ceasefire in Ukraine

Prominent northern leaders have warned against the relocation of US and French military bases from the Sahel to Nigeria.

In a letter dated May 3, 2024, and addressed to President Bola Tinubu and National Assembly leaders, the northern elders urged the government to resist such pressures.

The letter stated that the US and France are lobbying Nigeria and other Gulf of Guinea nations for defence agreements to station troops previously in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

The northern leaders worry that Nigeria might agree to this defence pact, jeopardising its defence and security.

They noted that the removal of French and American forces from Niger questions the benefit of foreign military bases.

The letter highlighted that US operations in Sahel have not curbed terrorism, which has grown since the military base was established.

“The American operations in Niger Republic, for example, were ostensibly to pre-empt and uproot terrorists from the Sahel region. The result has so far been quite unimpressive, if not a complete failure.

“It is apparent that the presence of American troops and other intelligence personnel in Niger Republic is not serving any useful purpose. This is for the simple reason that terrorism, far from abating, has risen dramatically since the US began its operations in the region,” they said.

It warned against Nigeria sacrificing sovereignty and independence for alliances that could have negative future impacts.

The northern leaders pointed out that Nigeria has been consistently opposed to defence pact with foreign countries since the 1960s.

“It is important to remember that Nigerians have consistently opposed defense agreement with foreign countries since the 1960s when the Balewa administration was forced to abrogate the Anglo-Nigerian Defense Agreement, because the agreement contained a clause which allowed the Royal Air force to overfly and test its aircrafts in Nigeria.

The Agreement also allowed the Royal Air Force to station maintenance staff in Nigeria. The Balewa administration was pressured to abrogate the Agreement because public opinion perceived it as an impairment of Nigeria’s freedom of action which might draw the country into hostilities against it wishes. This remains true,” the letter stated.

Adding that, “In 2001, in his bid to ostensibly re-professionalize the Nigerian army, President Obasanjo almost unilaterally signed the “Military Cooperation Agreement Between the US and Nigeria.” To its credit, the Ministry of Defense responded appropriately by opposing the agreement arguing that, the ministry was not involved in the negotiations between Nigeria and the US, neither were the service chiefs, who could have provided input relating to the syllabus and doctrinal content of the programme.”

The presence of foreign troops can inflate local prices and living costs, impacting low-income residents, the elders argued.

Military base construction and operation can harm the environment, including deforestation, soil erosion, water pollution, and biodiversity loss, affecting agriculture and indigenous communities. This environmental damage could limit economic and sustainable development opportunities, they noted.

“Moreover, hosting foreign troops often leads to increased prices and living costs locally, disproportionately affecting the lower-income population. Environmentally, the construction and operation of military bases can lead to significant degradation of the local environment.

“This includes deforestation, soil erosion, water contamination, and loss of biodiversity, which are detrimental to agricultural communities and indigenous populations. The long-term environmental damage could further hinder economic opportunities and sustainable development,” the letter stated.

Signatories include Abubakar Siddique Mohammed of the Centre for Democratic Development, Research and Training (CEDDERT); Kabiru Sulaiman Chafe, former minister of State for Petroleum Resources; Attahiru Muhammadu Jega, former INEC chairman; Jibrin Ibrahim of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD); Auwal Musa of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CCISLAC); and Y. Z. Ya’u of the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD).