Nigeria: Its Time to Look East or Perish.

In 2015 Bolo Haram officially became the deadliest terror group known to man, knocking off ISIS from the number one spot. A spot ISIS has vowed to reclaim. We have France, Brirannia and to a lesser extent the United States to thank for this. That Boko Haram have reached this position is a direct consequence of Cameron, Sarkozy and Hillary Clinton’s illegal war on Libya.
According to the Global Terrorism Index, Boko Haram was responsible for 6,644 deaths in 2014, compared to ISIS’s 6,073 attributed to ISIS.

In 2009, the year the Islamic sect took up arms, Boko Haram had nothing like the capacity to mount large scale operations. Their weapon and equipment was primitive. They simply lacked the kind of heavy weaponry required to take on the might of the Nigerian Army….until that is, the Europeans chose Africa as a testing ground to redeem their relevance as a global power.

After the fall of Muammer Ghadafi in 2011, Boko Haram fortunes began to change. In the blink of an eye Boko Haram shifted from the cheap AK-47’s in the early days of its post 2009 insurgency to desert ready combat vehicles, and aircraft and anti tank guns, fabricated rockets, mortars and heavy duty machine guns.

The dramatic turn around in Boko Harams to heavy weapons was the direct result of French inspired NATO’s war on Libya.  In 2012 A UN report warned that large quantities of weapons and ammunition from Libyan stockpiles were smuggled into the Sahel region”, including rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns with anti-aircraft visors, automatic rifles, ammunition, grenades, explosives (Semtex), and light anti-aircraft artillery (light caliber bi-tubes) mounted on vehicles”, and probably also more advanced weapons such as surface-to-air missiles and MANPADS (man-portable air-defense systems).

NATO had effectively turned over the entire armoury of an advanced industrial state to terrorist groups, chief among them are the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Boko Haram.

The first casualty of military adventurism in Libya was Mali. The Taureg fighters who use to work in Gaddafi’s elite security forces ran away from Libya when NATO overthrew him and started their own insurgency in Northern Mali. Suddenly everybody wants to be a terrorist. Al-Qaeda wasn’t gonna have these newbies steal its shine, so they were overthrown by Al Qaeda’s regional affiliates flush with weapons looted or purchase from Libya’s vast armoury; who then turned Northern Mali into another base from which tk train and launch attacks.

Boko Haram benefited immensely from the vacuum created in Northern Mali following the NATO outster of Gaddafi. How did Boko Haram benefit? well they did in two ways :

  1. It honed its guerrilla skills by fighting alongside experienced Islamists AQIM in Mali.
  2. It accumulated a huge chunk of the estimated 15,000 pieces of Libyan military hardware and weaponry that was stolen and leaked across the country’s borders following the removal of Gaddafi.

In April 2012 Agence France-Presse reported that hundreds of Boko Haram fighters were assisting AQIM in Northern Mali. This had a devastating knock-on effect in Nigeria. As the Washington Post reported in early 2013,

 

 

The Islamist insurgency in Northern Nigeria has ented a more violent phase as militantsbreturn to the fight with sophisticated weaponry and tactics learns on the battlefields of nearby Mali.

 

But this shouldn’t have come as surprise in a country that has sensible and competent leadership. As early as June 2011, the Chairman of the African Union Jean Ping warned NATO that ” Africa’s concern is that weapons that are delivered to one side or another are already in the desert and will arm terrorists and fuel trafficking “. Mali, Algeria and South Africa strongly opposed NATO’s destruction of Libya precisely because of the massive destabilization it will bring to the region.

The South Africans were most vigorously opposed to NATO military intrvention in Africa, arguing that such violent upheaval in a volatile region like north Africa will have catastrophic consequences. While South Africa voted against, Nigeria’s vote was mist critical. If Nigeria voted no the AU will unify in opposition, squashing NATO’s ambition. The U.S promised to give the Nigerian Navy two of its ex Coast Guard Hamilton Class cutter for a yes vote.

Well the South Africans were right. The rise of Boko Haram is as a direct consequence of NATO’s military intervention in Libya.

Nigeria was once seen by the US as one of its most dependable allies on the African continent. Yet, following a pattern that is repeated across the entire global South, in recent years the country has been moving ever closer to China. The headline grabbing deal was the $23 billion contract signed in 2010 with the Chinese to construct three fuel refineries, adding an extra 750,000 barrels per day to Nigeria’s oil producing capacity.

This was followed up in 2013 with an agreement to increase Nigerian oil exports to China ten fold by 2015 (from 20,000 to 200,000 barrels per day). But China’s economic interests go far beyond that. There is no need to pretend here. The Chinese are trying to get involved in every sector of the Nigerian economy not just oil. But if you look at the West its oil, oil, oil and war, war, war, nothing else.

In 2006 China issued an $8.3 billion low interest loan to Nigeria to fund the construction of a major railway. The following year China launched Nigeria’s 3rd telecommunications satellite into orbit.

Indeed of the $18 billion worth of bilateral trade between Nigeria and China in 2011, over 88% was in the non oil sector and by 2012, Nigeria’s import from China (our biggest import partner), totalled more than that of its second and third biggest import partners, America and India combined.

This kind of trade and investment is of the type that is seriously aiding Africa’s ability to add value to its products, thereby undermining the American led post WW2 economic order, which relies on Africa to be stuck and remain under-developed exporter of cheap raw materials.

China’s co-operation with Nigeria has not been limited to economics. In 2004 China supported Nigeria’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council, and in 2006 Nigeria signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of a Strategic Partnership with China- the first African country to do so.

Let’s not forget, the United States, our supposed ally ,taken advantage of Nigeria’s desperation actively blocked Nigeria’s effort to buy high end weapons for its fight against Boko Haram. Not content with refusing to sell arms to Nigeria, the Obama administration put a kapush on a deal with Israel for combat helicopters, citing human rights concern, and not skipping a bit to embarrass the Nigerian government.

The president even took a trip to Africa twice, snubbing Nigeria in his first visit. On his second visit he not only snubbed Nigeria, but flew over Nigeria to Ghana, where he lectured on human rights, throwing a jab at Nigeria over her legislation that criminalizes same sex relationship.
On the other hand China sold five CH-3 Rainbow attack drone with no preconditions. Symbolizing the importance of the relationship between both regional powerhouses, the current Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made Nigeria his first foreign destination after taking up the role in 2013.

This growing romance between Nigeria and China is not viewed positively by the US, which is witnessing what it once saw as a dependable client state edge increasingly out of its orbit. Now as faaar back as 16 years ago, the African Oil Policy Initiative Group –  (a consortium of US Congressmen), military officials and energy lobbyists, had already concluded in a 2002 report that China was a rival of the US for influence in West Africa that would need to be deterred by military means, and China has been increasingly viewed by US policymakers as a strategic threat to be contained militarily ever since.

Is it such a stretch, then, to think that the US might actually want to cripple its strategic rival, China, by destabilizing her allies, such as Nigeria? Remember the Doomsday CIA prediction of a “Nigeria breakup by 2015”? They even held war games based on that.

Unlike most other foreign actors in the country and while the French and Americans are busy building surveillance facilities and secrete military bases in Nigeria’s next door neighnors, the  Chinese are investing in fixed assets, such as refineries and factories, with the intention of developing a long-term economic relationship.

The scramble for Africa is nearing fever pitch and both superpowers employ different strategies to actualise their goals. For the Chinese, stability and good governance in Nigeria is advantageous for Beijing because it is the only way to guarantee that Chinese interests are protected.
To the Franco/Americans a stable and strong Nigeria is not in their best interest. Instability in Nigeria is the only way to guarantee that Chinese interests are threatened, and therefore, that US strategic goals are served.

The US’s lackluster efforts in backing Nigerian efforts against Boko Haram, from blocking arms sale to Nigeria, to funding the fight in all of Nigeria’s dictatorial neighbors, but not demcratic Nigeria itself, as well as its suspension of Nigerian crude oil imports from July 2014 ( a decision that helped plunge Nigeria into one of its most severe financial crises) mean on thing. It is time to look East. The West is on a downward spiral and is determined to use all means to reverse trajectory.

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