Northern leaders, NNPP warn FG against defence pact with U.S., France

Composite image of President Joe Biden of the United States and President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria.
Composite image of President Joe Biden of the United States and President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria.

New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and northern leaders, yesterday, warned the Federal Government to be cautious in signing any defence pact with France and the United States of America.
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The party noted that countries like Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso had recently expelled French and American soldiers from their bases and were now reportedly lobbying to have a new military base in Nigeria, which is strategically located in the Gulf of Guinea.

The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Ladipo Johnson, in a statement, noted that such a pact could have disastrous implications for Nigeria’s internal peace and its relationship with neighbouring countries, especially those in the Sahel region.

NNPP observed that such reported defence pacts would not necessarily fulfil their stated objectives, saying similar pacts had failed in the past.

Johnson noted that the National Chairman of NNPP, Dr Ajuji Ahmed, was compelled to commission an expert group of researchers to look into the matter due to the general alarm it engendered and the overriding calls for caution by many respected citizens and members of the party from various parts of the country.
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He said: “Going down memory lane, the NNPP observed that since the abrogation of the Anglo-Nigerian defence pact in the 1960’s, the country has resisted all attempts to recreate military bases in Nigeria and as such the current reported attempt must be subjected to rigorous debate and consensus from the generality of Nigerian citizens.

“The Party drew attention to the need to maintain a cordial relationship with affected neighbouring countries like Niger and Mali, suggesting that any defence pact with either France or the United States could impact negatively on Nigeria’s existing regional relationships, aggravate already damaged bilateral relations, and thereby disrupt regional equilibrium and peace.”

In its warning, the northern leaders said allowing the United States and French governments to relocate their military bases from the Sahel to Nigeria would pose a danger to Nigeria.
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This was contained in a letter addressed to Tinubu and the National Assembly.

Signatories to the letter included Abubakar Mohammed of the Centre for Democratic Development, Research and Training (CEDDERT); former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Kabiru Chafe; former Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega; Jibrin Ibrahim of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD); Auwal Musa (Rafsanjani) of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CCISLAC); and YZ Ya’u of the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD).

In the letter, they claimed that the US and French governments had been lobbying Nigeria and other countries in the region, to sign new defence pacts allowing them to redeploy their expelled troops.

“This is for the simple reason that terrorism, far from abating, has, in fact, risen dramatically since the US began its operations in the region,” the leaders said.
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