Where is the gain of Buhari’s ‘wish list’ to G7 nations 6 years after?
Shortly after he was elected president in 2015, Muhammadu Buhari was told to bring along his “wish list” to the G7 meeting in Germany which held a few days after he was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) presided over by Professor Attahiru Jega.
Buhari had obliged. He took along a lengthy list of Nigeria’s desperate requests.
The list among other things contained items like security cum terrorism, combating corruption, help with power/energy, help with the economy and infrastructure, also assistance via direct foreign investment.
In the last six years, the Buhari administration has moved from one country to another, cap-in-hand, begging for all manner of assistance, particularly, on security.
For helpless Nigerians, who had been weighed down by the unbearable weight of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping, the meeting was the only hope out of the deadly grip of the hoodlums who seem to have overpowered the military.
Sadly, six years down the line, the level of terrorism and insecurity has tripled across the country; making Nigeria one of the dreaded places on earth.
But most disturbing, the escalating rate of terrorism in the country, especially in the north east geopolitical zone, queries the impact of the meeting of Mr. President with G7 members in 2015.
The Group of Seven (G7) is an intergovernmental organisation consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The heads of government of the member states, as well as the representatives of the European Union, meet at the annual G7 Summit.
Did G7 only sight the “wish-list” and did nothing or were there conditions needed to be met by Nigeria before the anticipated assistance would come?
Yet, Mr. President is leaving the whole team to meet the United States of America, one of the members of G7 for help.
Probably, the G7 was deterred and is still deterred by the complex nature of terrorism in Nigeria, the lack of will power to fight it and infiltrations in the military by the terrorists leading to several ambushes of soldiers and sabotage of their strategies and efforts.
For James Duddridge, British minister for Africa, the country may not be getting the anticipated results in the fight because Nigeria needs a different approach to tackle terrorism in her territory due to the complex nature of the attacks and that approach will require foreign collaborations, which the United Kingdom, as a strong ally of Nigeria, has been offering.
“The situation is massively complex and no partnership is going to resolve the multiplicity of problems, whether it is Boko Haram or Daesh or a number of other issues.
“In the UK you have a strong partner across the full gamut of issues, so it is not just about intelligence and hard security and military; it is about societies, it is about humanitarian support, it is about education and development partnership”, Duddridge said when he led a delegation to pay a courtesy visit to Geoffrey Onyeama, minister of Foreign Affairs, in Abuja recently.
But many argue that if the United Kingdom has truly been a strong ally of Nigeria in the fight against terrorism, the country would have made good impact in the fight and there would not have been need for meeting the G7 in the first place.
“Britain hardly looks back to any of her former colonies if there is nothing to gain. If not, what will it take to impress on President Buhari to accept their military support. But since the administration of Goodluck Jonathan, who they did not like, they decided to wait and watch until Nigeria begs as we are doing now,” Alfred Igodo, a retired naval officer, said.
Igodo, who runs security outfit for offshore companies in Niger Delta, noted that the G7 will only support with superior arms and intelligence, but that the victory will only come when Nigerians, from serving government officials, military, police, communities and ordinary citizens show political will, courage to fight, collaborate, share information, work in harmony and leave politics and religion out of the fight.
Speaking on the reason G7 may not have acted after receiving the “wish-list” of President Buhari since 2015; Igodo said there is no free lunch anywhere.
He blamed the inaction of G7 on the failure of Nigeria to meet the stringent conditions attached to the anticipated support.
“The truth is that G7 will not spend their money to provide superior arms, offer best of security intelligence, put some of their well-trained military officers on the line and not get anything back. There will be some conditions to at least safeguard their personnel, which I think Nigeria couldn’t meet.
In the same vein, Samuel Obadiah, of the Centre for Conflict Management and Peace Studies, University of Jos, decried that the lack of political will on the part of the Nigerian government to tackle terrorism head-on has deterred support.
Looking at the huge resources expended on the fight so far, Obadiah said the actions of the security forces, persistent corruption and ‘the alleged complicity of highly placed individuals’ have hampered the fight against terrorism.
In his analysis of the reason the meeting of President Buhari with G7 members has not yielded the anticipated result, Liesl Louw-Vaudran, consultant with Institute for Security Studies (ISS), noted that Nigeria’s growing loan and investment relationships with China, which is not a member of the G7 countries, may have stunted the expectations from the wish-list.
He recalled that, during Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, he was overlooked by US President Barack Obama on his three-country visit to Africa in June; Jonathan reacted speedily with a lucrative visit to China, cashing in on the huge potential of Chinese investment and a $1 billion loan for infrastructure development.
MacDonald Nuluibe, Nigerian-born United States of America security personnel, argued that Nigeria is not helping her situation going by the confusion in the search for foreign collaboration for assistance in the terrorism fight. “You can’t be with G7 yesterday, today you call on the UK and tomorrow you are calling on the US. For terrorism fight, I think the US is well positioned than the UK, which despite colonising Nigeria is offering little help,” he said.
He also thinks that the fact that Nigeria is surrounded by French-speaking neighbours, who are relatively peaceful, means Nigeria can go for wider collaboration involving France for better impact.
In his summation, he advised that Nigeria should get serious with her search for foreign partners in the fight, give it all it takes including the conditions given by the partners in order to save the country from degenerating further to uncoordinated self help and regional efforts, which may be to the advantage of the terrorists.
Some experts on politics and international affairs say that the idea of American military force on ground in the continent was old-fashioned, and that such ideas had been rejected by leaders of the continent in the past and even when such was needed there may be need for a committee to be initiated to determine the kind of help required.
“President Buhari is hypocritical in seeking foreign assistance for a number of reasons. One he bears responsibility for the import of Fulani bandits into the country. Two, he has turned the national security architecture into a Fulani organisation. Three, his government has stopped local efforts to root out the terrorists by deploying the military in their aid in decisive moments.
“Progressive Africans since 2008 have rejected the idea of American boots on ground in the continent, notwithstanding US lilypads that dot the continent. Buhari wants to railroad Nigeria and the continent into a playground of foreign security forces,” Sylvester Odion Akhaine, a professor of political science and expert on international affairs, said.
The professor further said the government should start by allowing those affected and vulnerable to attacks to carry arms and defend themselves if it was serious in dealing with the situation.
According to him, “If Buhari is genuinely interested in flushing out the Fulani terrorists; he should grant leave to indigenous communities to bear arms.
“Secondly, a think tank is required to determine the kind of help required. The US surveillance network knows everything about the terrorist cells in the country, and have the capacity to strike at their core. I believe we have the domestic capacity to deal with them but the government of the day which originated the crisis will not allow people to act”.
Jawondo Saheed, a political affairs commentator, said that there was nothing wrong in Nigerian government seeking external assistance to curtail the spate of insecurity, but warned that the country must be strategic and clear on its demands, while also working at long-term internal solutions to the country’s problems.
“I don’t really see anything wrong in seeking external help considering what we are facing. Is now clear that we are helpless, I think we need to be strategic and be clear with the demand so we don’t surrender our territory sovereignty.
“I also think we should work at resolving and finding solutions to the agitations that necessitated these people taking up arms in the first place. That to me is the long term solution to Nigeria’s problems. If some people are saying they have been marginalised, what have you done about it?
Obviously overwhelmed by the worsening security situation in Nigeria and increased pressure to seek external help, President Buhari recently sought the assistance of the United States government to curtain the situation.
In a virtual meeting with the United States Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, Buhari stressed the need for the United States to consider relocating its Africa Command (AFRICOM) from Stuttgart, Germany, to Africa, nearer the Theatre of Operation, while urging the international community to support Nigeria and the sub-region in tackling growing security challenges to avoid spillovers.
“The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us. Insecurity in the nation has been made worse by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad region,” he said.
The Nigerian government has also declared readiness to partner with China to tackle insecurity. Police Minister, Maigari Dingyadi hosted Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Cui Jianchun at the Ministry Headquarters in Abuja last week.
This is amid the growing apprehension across the country over the spate of insecurity which has aggravated to an alarming proportion. Killings, robbery, kidnapping, banditry and other violence crimes have become a daily occurrence and spread to all parts of the country.
The situation is particularly worse and frightening in the North East and Middle belt, where activities of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen have aggravated and escalated leaving hundreds dead and thousands homeless. Political leaders say it is the worst since the civil war era.
Meanwhile, as the situation aggravates daily, public anger has grown and there is the general perception that the President is not doing enough. Others have said that the country was not too big to seek external help when the need arises.
Others have also said that the President should be held accountable for the state of the security situation because suggestions which regional groups and leaders brought forward to deal with the situation had not been implemented by his administration, while he had shown bias in dealing with issues and those affected.