With BREXIT, the United Kingdom of Great Britain should consider a new strategic military alliance with Africa’s largest economy. Britain cannot hope to compete for economic influence with China or diplomatic influence with France and the United States. What Britain can do to take back its place is to re-establish strategic ties with her ex-colonies, which leads the continent’s in every developmental metric. Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa represents the continent’s leading economies.
All through the 80s and 90s the UK often worked closely with anglophone ECOWAS memberstates. The British military’s had close ties with the Nigerian military, and in some cases had assisted the Nigerian army’s effort in bringing a lasting solution to the strife that was plaguing anglophone member states. A cordial relationship
Thanks to a series of strategic mistakes on the part of the Nigerian government, France is already working closely together with her ex-colonies. As a consequence the balance of power in the region has shifted from Anglophone to Francophone West Africa.
There is no greater example of this than in the area of military cooperation . A militarily powerful Nigeria was instrumental in preventing Anglophone Liberia and Sierra-leone from certain disintegration. Nigeria’s economic power has also been instrumental in the economic development of English West Africa.
Developments in Nigeria trickled down to its traditional allies. The success of Nollywood for example was instrumental in helping Ghana develop its movie industry. Nigeria’s leadership in entertainment and soft culture in Africa benefits Ghana immensely, as they leverage on the Nigerian entertainment industry.
Unfortunately success often breeds resentment, hence it’s no surprise that other parallel alliances was being created in the francophone bloc.
As the world evolves, so new groupings is beginning to emerge. The most obvious is alliance of the francophone bloc with the French. It is much more than the Entente Cordiale of a century ago. They hope to compensate for their deficiency in economic power with military might.
Closer military cooperation with France has being used a vehicle for joint action. Military bases in every francophone member state and the creation of the G-5 Sahel military organization made up of francophone countries means Nigeria is no longer the preponderant military hegemon in the region.
Taking back the number one spot, while daunting is not impossible. An increase in defence expenditure, a clearly defined foreign policy and strategic military alliances can tilt the balance of military power back to Nigeria.
The UK too will require other carefully chosen alliances over the coming decade through which to influence the strategic landscape and help determine the outcome of its divorce with the European Union from the BREXIT refferendum.
Perhaps Britain should be focusing on its own strategic defence relationships with English-speaking countries on the continent, rather than playing second fiddle to the United States and France competing for influence in the Middle East.
An Alliance with Nigeria will not only have the benefit of extending British reach and providing it with allies in times of need, they can also assist with the government’s prevention strategy.
Unlike the 65 member military coalition against ISIS in Syria, Nigeria has made great strides in its fight against Boko Haram. Without then help of a foreign power. Unfortunately the perceptions of what is happening in the country in the West is lagging behind reality by some three years.
The Nigerian military is on a rebound despite saboteuring activities by those who do not have the best interest of the Nigeria. The army have largely been successful in dealing with Boko Haram. All lost territories have since been recaptured. They no longer have the capacity to hold territory. Insurgent attacks are down significantly. This was achieved virtually with little or no meaningful foreign assistance.
Still the powers that be continues to play one card corruption and human right violation card. They operate in their distorted perceptions and convince many to see the war effort as it was years ago, not as it is today.
Nigeria on its part have to start thinking about the big picture. After spending the last 15 years fighting grinding insurgency in the creeks of the Niger Delta and deserts of the northeast, the military should begin shifting its gaze, to start preparing for high-intensity conflict against major nation-state threats. The Nigerian militaries fixation in counter insurgency alone and neglecting its traditional conventional warfare fighting capability, while economically rational, is taking a risk with potentially horrendous consequences.
Nigeria have a bad habit of not being able to stop the pendulum in the middle. As the Nigerian military gears up for irregular warfare, it must not forget the lessons it has paid such a high price in blood to learn. The fire brigade, ” buy it when we need it ” approach to the nation’s security cost the lives of 30,000 Nigerians and halted Nigeria’s meteoric rise as a powerful emerging nation.
The spectre of the Nigeria’s national interest being threatened by terrorism was almost laughable a decade ago. It will never happen here they said. Well It did.
The military has made a 360 degree pivot to counter insurgency operations. It’s procurement profile corresponds with the needs on the ground.
While focusing on COIN has been vital in severely degrading Book Haram, it would be foolhardy indeed and against all the lessons of history to imagine that Nigeria will never have to defend itself from foreign aggression with a near peer or powerful adversary. It’s easy” to transition from a high-intensity fight “to a counterinsurgency. It’s harder to make the opposite switch.