African Nuclear Weapon Technology.

Right from when nuclear research began, developed and deployed, it brought to the fore the destructive capability of nuclear weapons, while its peaceful application was also sought years later. Many countries of the world, including the then apartheid South Africa, either began to develop their own nuclear weapon program or invested heavily into research for the development or acquisition of nuclear technology.

Some developed countries, notably the United States, Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) and Britain went into more research. Others such as France, China eventually joined the nuclear club.

A few African Countries, notably, South Africa, had experiences and took positions with respect to nuclear weapons technology, while other countries such as Egypt, Algeria, Libya and Nigeria also made attempt at various times.

But why Africa? what exactly is the rationale for African desire at acquiring nuclear technology, whether for military purpose or civilian purpose?

We start with South Africa, Africa’s greatest nuclear power and the first and only country in the world to have developed nuclear weapons and voluntarily dismantle its nuclear weapons program in its entirety.

SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa Atomic Energy Commission (SAAEC) was authorized by the then Apartheid government three years after the end of World War 2 in 1948. Under the guise of a South African uranium mining and industrial trade, South Africa eventually conducted her first nuclear test, codenamed Operation Phenix in the 1970s.

EGYPT

Egypt carried out its first test in 1959.

LIBYA

Libya conducted its first nuclear testing in the 1970s.

ALGERIA

Algeria launched its nuclear program in the 1980s.

NIGERIA

The oil boom of the 1970s made Nigeria the wealthiest black nation on earth.  Africa’s first petro-dollar state. This was the period the Nigerian leader famously said

” The problem with Nigeria’s is money, but what to do with it.”

Flush with petro-dollar Nigeria began building the greatest and most expansive infrastructural program black Africa has ever seen in modern times. The 3rd mainland bridge (the words 3rd longest over-water bridge), a bridge spanning over 12 kilometres was built. To host the 1977 Festival of Arts and Culture Nigeria practically built an entire town on a scale that will qualify as a city in small African states).

With Lagos getting overcrowded, by virtue of its size (Lagos is the smallest state in Nigeria by landmass) the Nigerian government decided it was time to build a new capital city. The government carved out huge swathes of land in the middle of the country and began the construction of what is today Africa’s best “purpose-built” city. The first city in Africa built from scratch by a black nation.

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Abuja is considered one of Africa’s best purpose built city.  The city was built largely in the 80s.
2018-10-19 08.10.58
Abuja is considered one of Africa’s best purpose built city.  The city was built largely in the 80s.

Barely two years after gaining independence the Nigerian government challenged and warned the French government against testing atomic bombs in the Sahara. The French government was unsure about this assertive black nation. The civil war presented France a target of opportunity to cut the country to size and actively supported and funded the Biafra secessionist.

The British government was irked by French destabilizing activities against her former colony and demanded an end to it. When that demand was not heeded Britain proceeded to support the Nigerian government with weapons, the Soviet Union followed suit thereafte

After emerging victorious in the civil war the Nigerian government had no illusion of who her major geopolitical enemy were. Even though Nigeria survived the civil war and remained intact, French support for Biafra had made France Nigeria’s major geopolitical foe. As the largest and wealthiest black nation, Nigeria also supported the anti-apartheid movement. The country was the chief sponsor of the African National Congress. The Nigerian government also issued more than 300 passports to South Africans seeking to travel abroad. This drew the ire of the Apartheid government so that in the 70s,  France and South Africa had become Nigeria’s major geopolitical foe.

While South Africa’s nuclear test drew concern from the Nigerian government, it was the role France played in the development of South Africa’s nuclear weapons program that alarmed the Nigerian government.

The spectre of Nigeria’s two main geopolitical foe cooperating in nuclear weapons technology forced the Nigerian government into taken a keen look into nuclear technology. And so Nigeria began investing into nuclear research in 1976.

In 1978 Nigeria established not one, but two nuclear training centres:

  • Centre for Energy Research and Development {CERD} at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.
  • The Centre for Energy Research and Training {CERT} at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

In the 1980s it was becoming apparent that Nigeria will not be allowed to attain nuclear weapons. South Africa was only able to develop nuclear weapons in secrecy, with French and Israeli covert assistance. And so 1988 Nigeria established a third nuclear training and research centre in Abuja for the expressed desire of developing nuclear technology for the safe applications for nuclear technology in medical and human health, electricity generation.

Unfortunately by the early 90s corruption and the quest for power had become the major preoccupation of government rather than the interest and well-being of the Nigerian people.

Even though Nigeria is among the first set of countries to sign international treaties on nuclear technology applications, institutionalized corruption, a disdain for intellect and tribal politics means Nigeria’s early interest and investment in nuclear technology has not translated into any meaningful progress.

Thus began the gradual decline of Nigeria’s overall development. Other countries that started the race with fewer resources than Nigeria such as Egypt, South Africa and Algeria have made advances and have long left Nigeria behind. The size of nuclear facility built in Abuja is twice the capacity of the one established in Cairo. But it is an irony that Nigeria has not been able to achieve any meaningful progress with the facility since its establishment in 1978.

In Algeria and South Africa, radiation from radio-isotope has been applied for immense benefits in areas of improved health care and agricultural productivity. The achievement of South Africa, Egypt and Algeria have clearly demonstrated the advantages of food preservation by irradiation. Countries like South Africa is Europe’s largest source of fruits such as Apple’s and oranges.

Sadly for Nigeria, the story is that of a shattered dream. Over 60% of the perishable agricultural products such as vegetables, fruits, etc are being destroyed annually, while the nuclear facility that was acquired for the purpose of electricity generation and preserving these food items is left dormant or at best applied non-productively.

As a consequently, the nation’s foreign reserve is greatly depleted as millions pf dollars is being expended annually on importation of processed foods and drinks from other countries that are careful not to be reckless in the application of their nuclear technology.

Whats sad is that Nigeria is not short of professionals and intellect . As far back as 1987, a former minister of external affairs, the legendary Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, CFR, came up with the idea that Nigeria could utilize nuclear technology to develop military grade weapons which will strategically position it as a nuclear power and enable it to be more effective in the pursuit of its foreign policy agenda.

This will strategically position Nigeria as a nuclear power and enable it to be more effective in the pursuit of its foreign policy agenda. He aptly referred to the proposal as the black bomb. He noted that,

“Nigeria has a sacred responsibility to challenge the racial monopoly nuclear weapons”.

He believed that Nigeria has the capacity to emerge as the first black power and that this has been the silent expectation of the black world when the nation attained independence in 1960. The black bomb proposal was forward-looking in the way it was meant to be approached when it was presented.

He aptly referred to the proposal as the black bomb. He noted that,

“Nigeria has a sacred responsibility to challenge the racial monopoly nuclear weapons”.

If it had been adopted before now, the current doubt about whether Nigeria is the giant of Africa or the ridiculous manner Nigeria has been addressed, disrespected and killed, even by African countries that have benefitted immensely from its foreign policy would have been non-existent.

That is, Nigeria would have been treated and addressed more respectfully in Africa and even in the world. But the people in charge of the apparatus of government to implement such policies were not so forward-looking. This is deeply regrettable. This is a dream that is now far from reality, shattered especially now in todays political correct global order where developing and owning nuclear weapons program will never be accepted by the international community .

History will never forgive Nigeria’s leaders, who quite frankly are a bunch of literate criminals and have no business running a company much less an entire country. The saddest thing is that even today, progressive Nigerians are trying so hard to make up for time lost and introduce policies and programmes that will bring development to the nation, and as such to the citizens. But the current crop of old politicians are not so happy about progress because it will challenge their power position.

Countries like Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, and even Botswana, Somalia and Ghana have been able to make this transition. In Ghana’s case it took the rounding up and execution of the corrupt class of leaders to begin the process of transformation.

In Nigeria’s case the country is beginning to look more and more like Korea, held hostage by the other half of the country. Despite the region having ruled Nigeria for the better part of 40 years, the rulling elites deliberately keep the people uneducated. Education is frowned upon because of the emancipation and enlightenment that comes with it, so they fight hard to keep 80 million northerners uneducated and backward, making them less inclined to change progressively and using them as a pawn to further their agenda. They have blinded their eyes to see what progressive development is like.

So we have one of the worlds most educated and entrepreneurial populace consistently churning out criminal leaders that have a serious problem with even articulation I dare any Nigerian to watch President Buhari speak without cringing.

Nigeria, for the purpose of its strategic position in Africa and West Africa, should develop nuclear capability, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that aspiration. Nigeria has the hallmark of a great power, not just in Africa but globally.  But Nigerian political leaders are proving just how unfit they are to govern by not showing enough character, strength and assertiveness as to whether the country has the necessary requirements, such as expertise, knowledge and human capital.

Yet we have million of shortchanged Nigerians rooting for the same old recycled leaderships. That Nigerians are actively campaigning for Atiku Abubakar, among the corrupt elite and one of the richest politicians in the country is disheartening.

Where did this country miss it? Should we begin to accept the commonest used phrases such as, there is no hope for Nigeria, or Nigeria is a cursed country? We all known the criminals running for office don’t have the citizens and nation at heart, why are we still electing the same crop of politicians in power?

I have the answer. Eighty million northern Nigerians who have been deliberately denied education and enlightenment to keep them voting along ethnic lines, without which no illiterate criminal northern politicians will ever be elected President.

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