The Nigerian Air Force can no longer be considered the dominant aerial power in West Africa after the government of Niger gave Washington permission to use attack drones in its anti terror operations in the country.
Here begs the question, why does Washington need two $200 million drone base against an enemy that is largely defeated and pushed out of its last major enclav in the Sambis forest relegating the few remaining scattered groups to nomads and arned bandits, stealing to survive, always on the run with the Nigerian army and air force always on the chase.
Desperate, and isolated suicide attacks does not negate the fact that Boko Haram no longer possesses the ability to carry out large scale attacks and seize territory like it once did.
By this time in 2015 Boko Haram was the world’s deadliest terrorist group, attacking in large tactical formations they seized and control a vast expanse of land the size of Costa-Rica, encompasing 17 local governments and created a Caliphate, effectively cutting off 2 million Nigerians from the rest of the country,
attacking military bases and stealing huge stockpiles of amunitions, artillery pieces and even succeeded in stealing 15 Vickers MK III Eagle tanks and cluster bombs. It’s fortress- the Sambisa forest was a no go area, allowing external players to smuggle in weapons and cash.
Today the hitherto operational base of Boko Haram- the Sambisa forest is now where the Nigerian Army hold small arms championship and sporting competition. So where is the threat that warrants the stationing of armed Reaper drones bases in virtually every country-which by the way are dictatorships, surrounding the only democracy in the axis -Nigeria?
What impact could this have on Nigeria?
The fact alone that drones, which is America’s best warfare tactics is coming to Africa’s West Coast, right at Nigeria’s doorstep is disturbing. Niger is now a new bin on the U.S bombing map as Washington pushes ahead with its anti extremist campaign on the continent. This is enough to put the fear of God on Nigeria’s leaders.
The armed drones are operated from a $100 drone base in Agadez, and of course this means an additional troop deployment to for security. For the first time in Nigeria’s history two of the worlds most technologically advanced militaries have set up shop in Nigeria’s periphery.
The Pentagon says this operation supports the long the strategic partnership between the United States and Niger, as well as the ongoing effort to counter Boko Haram. All in the name of war on terror. Give me a break ! Partnership with three of Africa’s longest service dictators, the only dictatorships in the region, yet alleniating Nigeria, the world’s fourth largest democracy.
Since September 11 the Pentagon has been hell bent on dropping hellfire missiles on A-Stan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia….the lineup goes on. But for civilians in those countries a distant Buzz up in the sky can be a death warrant. In fact American drones have slaughtered some 1,500 civilians. The same unit which will be in charge of Niger drone operation is the same unit accused of killing ten people in Somalia in August, something the U.S Africa Command has denied. Now it is operating a new front in it’s drone war.
The Nigerian government is either ignorant or feigning indifference with a strategic plan behind the scene. I hope the latter is the case. What will it take for Nigeria to wake up to the reality that this is not a game or some diplomatic manoeuvring ? this country has effectively been beseiged there is no way out of this one unless the government acts proactively.
A month ago the death of four U.S soldiers in an ambush in Niger revealed American military presence in the country. Something even senior U.S politicians seems unaware of, much less the Nigerian government
West African countries can now being put under a lot of pressure by various Western powers. There are probably less than a thousand troops in Niger, this will now increase definitely by over three thousand U.S troops stationed in Niger. This is a big problem for ECOWAS and Nigeria to be precise. Nigeria’s neighbour are now allowing the United States to carry out these kinds of attacks. All of West Africa is now within range of American bombs.
This could be the costliest strategic mistake Nigeria ever makes by its unwillingness to confront the build up of military forces right at our very own backyard.
Nigeria could at least compensate for the shift in the balance of air power and UAV capability by acquiring the newer CH-5 Rainbow drone to complete Nigeria’s fleet of four CH-3 Rainbow armed drones like the Egyptians did . The only country with the demographic, economic, diplomatic and military wherewithal is being encircled. Time is running out before it gets to the point of no return.