Thursday, November 29, 2007

Nigeria Rejects United States 'Africa Command' (AFRICOM)

Nigeria rejects US’ Africa Command

Daily Trust
Wednesday, 28 November 2007

The United States government’s decision to establish an Africa Command (AFRICOM) as a military mechanism for "resolving" Africa’s internal crises in pursuit of its "war on terror" was received by most African pundits with concern or resignation, but little surprise. Whether viewed as a strategy for hegemony or self-defence, the establishment of such commands worldwide is but the logical outcome of the US push for global dominance.

There being no corner of the world where US interest or honour lies beyond the reach of "evil-minded forces," the whole aim of the "global war on terror" – which foresees an unlimited number of indecisive battles - may be no more than to so menace the governments and peoples of the world with an endless series of imaginary enemies as to compel them to rely on US support for survival and provide fa├žades behind which Uncle Sam could rule the planet unchallenged.

That is standard twenty-first century imperialism whose grace notes are "free market," "human rights," and a democracy enforced by awesome military power.

The strategy of all imperial masters has always been to impose norms of right and wrong, possibility or impossibility, sanity or insanity and good or bad on their subjects, the majority of whom conform without question on account of their herd mentality. The masters then manipulate these norms to divide the masses into diverse factions, thus gaining the leverage to create conflicts or restore order among the masses at will.

While parallel US efforts to destroy all established traditions in promoting worldwide regional integration are but parts of its ploy to create a US-dominated global economy and administration, we remain supremely confident that the good people of the United States and its allied countries are neither militaristic enough nor rich enough to condone the endless bailouts, police actions and wars which their governments’ hegemonic aspiration would entail.

What the US and its allies really care about is to establish a military presence at the heart of every resource-rich region in order to control the supply of hydrocarbon fuels as global capitalism becomes increasingly overwhelmed by crises of overproduction and overcapacity. It is logical that they should seek to strengthen their military presence in Africa as China and India begin to cast furtive glances at our continent’s resources.

They are easily capable of manipulating the conflicting claims by Nigeria and Cameroon of sovereignty over the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to justify intervention on the side of whichever country "plays ball" and make life unpleasant for the country that may elect to follow its own path just as they currently subject Iran, the Hamas government of Gaza, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea to enormous pressures for failing to toe the line.

A serious challenge to the US scheme could come from "Islamic fundamentalism," which could exploit the pervasive hostility to US foreign policy and Israel’s continuing humiliation of the Palestinians to undermine US interests in the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere. Barring the emergence of a genuinely powerful Islamic state in the region however that challenge lacks a geopolitical core and can therefore be restricted to expressing itself through diffuse violence, albeit on a global scale that could even conduce to increasing US’ hegemonic influence.

What are the prospects for Africa? Much depends on the African leaders’ ability to distinguish the real from the spurious, change their vision from "can’t do" to "can do," from miniscule to limitless horizons, and above all to question every received wisdom as they rid their minds of the fears that blind them to the immense demographic and material potentials of the globally dispersed communities of Africans.

Accordingly we welcome the recent decision of our Council of States to reject AFRICOM as a neo-colonial imposition and work instead towards the establishment of an African Standby Force to address whatever crises may arise in African countries.

Bakassi: I didn’t act alone– Obasanjo

Written by Abdul-Rahman Abubakar
Thursday, 29 November 2007

Former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday denied that he took unilateral action last year in the decision to hand over the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon, allegedly in respect of the verdict given by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Obasanjo was reacting to a recent decision of the Senate to cancel the peninsula’s transfer, saying he did not seek for ratification as provided for by the 1999 Constitution.

A statement signed by the Media Assistant to the former President, Mr. Adeoba Ojekunle said: "The last Senate and the House of Representatives under the leaderships of Senator Ken Nnamani and Hon. Aminu Bello Masari were duly served the Green Tree Agreement between Nigeria and Cameroon on the ceding of Bakassi Territory for ratification by the National Assembly."

But speaking to Daily Trust on telephone yesterday, former Senate President Nnamani said if the Senate failed to ratify the agreement at that time, "It means we did not deem it appropriate."

He said, "I cannot say if we received such letter or not, but that can be checked at the office of the Clerk to the National Assembly. If we received it and did not treat it, that was because we didn’t deem it appropriate. We were not rubber stamps."

Asked if he advised the former president on the matter, Nnamani said: "I was not in his legal adviser."

Obasanjo’s statement claimed to have sought for ratification from the National Assembly, "contrary to the widely held view that the last Assembly was kept in the dark concerning the agreement."

The former president, who attached to his statement a copy of the letter dated June 13, 2006 and addressed to Senate resident Ken Nnamani, did not however include any proof of Senate ratification for ceding of Bakassi Peninsula.

Obasanjo however said the letter was received on June 15, 2007 and duly acknowledged by the two chambers.

Former Senate President Nnamani however advised his colleagues to approach the Bakassi issue with caution saying, "I don’t want anything that will heat the polity and disrupt the stability we are enjoying now. The matter is a judgement of the ICJ. We should tread with caution."

The Senate recently nullified the ceding of Bakassi Peninsula and other parts of Nigeria’s territory to the Republic of Cameroon by former President, Obasanjo in respect to the ICJ ruling.

Consequently, it requested President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua "to forthwith stop any further transfer of any part of this country unless the agreement is ratified by the National Assembly."

The motion, which was moved by Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw (Cross River South), was sponsored by twenty one other senators, including eleven ranking senators who were in the Senate during the reign of Obasanjo.

The lawmakers condem-ned the action of the former ruler saying, "Notwith-standing the widespread national disaffection and concerns expressed over the ICJ verdict, and despite his own earlier promise not to cede the territory to Cameroon, the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was reported to have signed an agreement at the Green Tree, New York on June 12, 2006 in which he agreed to surrender the peninsula to Cameroon."

Deputy Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) insisted that in enforcing the ICJ ruling on Bakassi, the National Assembly ought to have been involved.

"Bakassi is mentioned in the first schedule of the Constitution of Nigeria and for us, full implementation of the ICJ judgment cannot be considered until during the constitution amendment," Ndoma-Egba added.

Another senior senator, Deputy Minority Leader Senator Olorunimbe Mamora, queried Obasanjo for not involving the parliament in the implementation of the ICJ ruling on Bakassi. He said, "Everything that was done was supposed to have involved the parliament because that is what divides democracy from autocracy. If you leave out the parliament, what you have is autocracy. Just like the Europeans shared out Africa as an international cake, Bakassi was shared out as a national cake."

Mamora described as unfortunate the action of former President Obasanjo in signing the agreement to cede part of Nigeria on June 12, 2006, "a day that is celebrated as a day for consolidation of democracy by many Nigerians."

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