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Federalism is the answer, after all – Part 42

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Nigeria

The manifestation of Nigeria’s crisis of the state is by no means-ending soon. The reasons are not too far to seek: they include impunity in the running of the affairs of the country, gross abuse of human rights, and disregard of court orders writ large in the affairs of the state. These pathologies smack the weak foundation of the Nigerian state, a state without a core, in other words, a state without a covenant. 

The minders of the rudderless ship of state are running riot and predatorily accumulating the resources of the state while hounding those who ask for civility in the conduct of state affairs. Besides, in the so-called war against insurgency and other forms of banditry in the country, the state obviously, a rogue one, is partisan.

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Genuine freedom lovers are demonised as terrorists, hounded with the ferocity of state apparatus while simultaneously embracing and engaging in photo opportunities with known bandits who should have been tagged as terrorists. By some estimate, Nigeria has lost over 11000 souls to new militarism. This gory figure is compounded by the staggering number of internally displaced persons (IDPs).  

It is in the above context that we reflect on the recently reported stoppage of arms sales to Nigeria by the U.S. Congress. According to Robbie Gramer, a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy, “U.S. lawmakers are holding a proposed sale of attack helicopters to Nigeria amid mounting concerns about the Nigerian government’s human rights record as its military grapples with multiple security crises at once… The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have delayed clearing a proposed sale of 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and accompanying defence systems to the Nigerian military, pausing a deal worth some $875 million, according to U.S. officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter…The behind-the-scenes controversy over the proposed arms sale illustrates a broader debate among Washington policymakers over how to balance national security with human rights objectives. The hold on the sale also showcases how powerful U.S. lawmakers want to push the Biden administration to rethink U.S. relations with Africa’s most populous country amid overarching concerns that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is drifting toward authoritarianism as his government is besieged by multiple security challenges, including a jihadist insurgency.”

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The arms package includes 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, 28 helicopter engines produced by GE Aviation, 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell, and 2,000 advanced precision kill weapon systems—laser-guided rocket munitions. However, the Nigerian government moved to dispel any such unfriendly diplomatic move from the U.S. government and boasted about its fulfillment of earlier commitment in arms supply to the Nigerian government. Mr. Lai Mohammed, the Information Minister, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said there is no arms contract between the U.S. and Nigeria, apart from the 12 Super Tucano attack helicopters. “We are quite satisfied with the progress and cooperation that we received from the government of the U.S. on this issue.” He, however, denied knowledge of the about $875 million arms contract that is being blocked by U.S. lawmakers. This is yet another curious denial even as events unfold.

Reveling in the so-called cozy relationship by the minister of information indicates what is common knowledge, that is, the enduring fact that the Obama administration was among forces that foisted the current autocracy in the country. It is, however, relieving that conscientious forces of the U.S. Congress can discern the situation in Nigeria where the state is the chief violator of human rights and has clearly displayed partisanship and double-face in the fight against insurgency and other forms of banditry in the country. Thanks to Leahy Amendment that prohibits the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defence from providing military assistance to foreign security force units that violate human rights with impunity. Discerning experts see this development in the positive frame to the extent that foreign countries are deciding the country’s national interest through balancing national security and the rights of the citizens.  

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We believe that winning the war against insurgents is important, and the country needs all the support, it can get. As things are in our country today, this wish will be meaningless under the current leadership that is clearly nepotistic and double-minded in the fights against all forms of terror in the land.  Its human rights record is nothing to write home about. The entire world knows what happened with the #EndSARS protest in which peaceful and innocent protesters were killed in cold blood. This is the Nigerian dilemma. Fighting insurgents in a badly divided country would seem like a wild goose chase. The country needs to move forward. A restructured Nigeria along functional federal principles will restore the population’s faith in the country. The security architecture of the country is a core element of the restructuring agenda and it is only truly national armed forces without a skewed command structure that can win the war against insurgents. The prevalent administration in the country is the architect of its own destiny: it refuses to abide by the rule of law; lacks the political will to fight corruption and it is clearly insincere in the fight against insurgents and banditry. It would be recalled that U.S. servicemen who were in Nigeria complained about the inability to keep Intel information on the part of their Nigerian counterparts. It speaks volumes about the ecology of the fight against insurgency. Threading on a cautious note on the part of the U.S. is noble at this point until we are ready to remake our country along the path of justice and equity. And that, (concept of justice and equity) in the main, can only manifest when there is a federation where federalism practice is spelled out clearly in the federal constitution and constitutions of different federating units that beautifully define our diversity that the federal authorities are mismanaging at the moment. When will the governing authorities listen to our voice of reason, in this connection?

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