The media is awash with reports of President Buhari’s trip to the United States of America. Among all the reasons for this diplomatic visit, one important reason has turned out to be a waste of time. The American government is sticking to its stand that it won’t sell weapons to Nigeria.
In August 2011, the United Nations’ building in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, was rocked by a car bomb, fully launching Nigeria into the league of countries facing domestic terrorism. All eyes were focused on Boko Haram, the ruthless (cowardly) Islamist terrorist group that had decided to take sleep away from Nigerians.
The Year 2011 was not the first time that global media organisations would run reports on Boko Haram. The group’s introduction to the limelight was in 2009 when it led an uprising in the Nigeria’s north. That uprising, under late President Yar’ Adua was crushed by the Nigerian military. The infamous founder was caught and delivered to the Police, who then executed him under questionable circumstances.
That was in 2009. Nigerians thought it was all over. However, the 2011 UN bombing showed that the malaise had continued to fester. The Nigerian government led by President Jonathan, condemned the bombings, and promised to bring the culprits to justice. A cat-and-mouse game then began between the military and the terrorists. Boko Haram began a successful campaign of bombing different targets and attacking several towns and villages, to the horror of Nigerians who were frustrated at their government’s apparent inability to end the reign of terror.
As the fight with Boko Haram continued, the military made several complaints, one of which was the lack of high calibre arms and ammunitions in sufficient quantities. The Nigerian government turned to a supposed ally, the United States, seeking to buy weapons to bolster its forces. This move was predicated on the fact that the US has arguably the greatest military in the world. Unfortunately, the American government declined to approve any arms sales, citing allegations of human rights abuses against the Nigerian state. Amnesty International and some other human rights groups had provided questionable fodder for America’s cannon. Hence, the US government used the provisions of the 1997 Leahy Act to keep its companies from selling arms to Nigeria, and even went as far as pressurizing its allies against selling to Nigeria.
Nigerians looked in disbelief. Different commentators tried to posit reasons for the refusal, apart from the Leahy Act. “Maybe it’s because they don’t like the Jonathan administration”. After all, the US had publicly stated its frustration with that government. “Maybe they don’t trust the Nigerian military, and are wary of the arms entering the terrorists’ arms”. Given the doubts, and allegations of insider leakages, this sounded plausible. However, whatever the reason, the Nigerian government had to buy arms somewhere. It turned to the black market, and countries that the US sanctimoniously sees as pariah states.
With the inception of the Buhari administration, Nigerians were hopeful of renewed US support, given the endorsements that trooped in from that side of the globe. Sadly, Buhari’s much-trumpeted trip to the world’s super policeman had ended with the same results—no arms sale. Once again, the US has cited Nigeria’s record of human rights abuses.
“Unwittingly, and I dare say unintentionally, the application of the Leahy Law Amendment by the United States Government has aided and abetted the Boko Haram terrorist group in the prosecution of its extremist ideology and hate, the indiscriminate killings and maiming of civilians, in raping of women and girls, and in their other heinous crimes”. This statement, credited to Buhari, after America’s rejection of his request, captures the essence of the result of America’s resolve. The American government pledged to aid Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram, even promising funds for the Multi-National Joint Task Force, yet it refuses to sell weapons that would help Nigeria in that fight. If this is not hypocrisy, then the dictionaries have to be rewritten.
The American government cites human rights abuses against Nigeria, yet it overlooks Amnesty International’s report against Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and several other countries to which it sells arms. The Obama administration refused to call the coup in Egypt a “coup”. Regardless of whether a majority of Egyptians supported the coup or not, a coup is a coup. Apparently, the US has different standards for different countries. If a country is “really” important to its interests, it pushes its laws aside, or finds legal loopholes to sidestep such laws. Nigeria should just note that it is not as important as it thinks. The “Giant of Africa” title is apparently hogwash to the Americans. After all, President Obama could refer to Nigeria as an Eastern African country, equivalent to saying Egypt is in South Africa.
America says Nigeria is a violator of human rights. That’s like a sooty pot calling a kettle black. Obviously, Guantanamo Bay and all that is associated with it does not exist. The “sins” of Nigeria’s military are small, compared to those of the US military and groups it has sponsored around the world. Refusing to remove the log in its eyes before removing the speck in Nigeria’s eyes demonstrates a hypocritical character. However, America is the greatest superpower, the biggest bully in the street, so it can do as it pleases.
The Nigerian government should reappraise its strategy for combating Boko Haram. Now is the time to form new strategic alliances. If righteous America won’t sell to you, then bloody hell, some sinners would gladly sell to you. America’s double standards should teach Nigeria something about international politics, something about global relevance. It should also make Nigerians think about their dismal manufacturing ability. As for the Americans, someday they would get down from that high horse.
PS: I’M NOT ANTI-AMERICA. I DON’T HATE AMERICA. NOTHING IN THIS ARTICLE SHOULD BE CONSTRUED TO MEAN THAT I HARBOUR ANY SUPPORT WHATSOEVER FOR THOSE WHO PLOT AGAINST AMERICA. I SIMPLY DON’T LIKE THE STENCH OF HYPOCRISY.