The Americans and Jonathan's administration


By Femi Ayelabowo
It was a few years ago when a national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) told a few of his confidants that the United States government could not deny knowledge of what was going on in the north-eastern flank of Nigeria. 

Just this year, following a rash of reports and commentaries by the western press over the painful and unfortunate abduction of over 200 secondary school girls, the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration was arm-twisted into taking a less than holy offer of the US government to help in finding and rescuing the girls.

Several months down the line, it appears all the hue and cry over the proficiency of the Americans was just a hoax, a film trick. Their presence has not achieved anything but grumbles from the military that the Americans are doing nothing but spying while refusing or delaying to release whatever information may be needed to neutralize the Boko Haram group which seems to be more intelligent than the US, French, British, and Nigerian intelligence agencies put together.

Some have even wondered aloud whether the intelligence meant to be shared with the Nigerian government is not being shared with the terrorists.    To compound matters, the Americans parade an ambassador in this country, who is hell bent on undermining the federal government without as much as a reprimand from the Foreign Affairs Ministry. The man, these days, goes to universities owned by opposition figures to preach about Nigeria's human rights records when his country so unabashedly has been and is still involved in the most atrocious of human rights abuses all over the world.

His country still runs the worst detention camp in the world, yet he wants the young minds of our own land to think their own government is an irresponsible one. It has been said that this ambassador has an agenda to force through a pet project he was involved in, the African Command (AFRICOM), on Nigeria by making us see the need for it by all means possible, even if by devilish means.

What is, however, most irking is the refusal of the US government to sell or allow others to sell arms to Nigeria to prosecute a battle against Boko Haram.    However, the government is now looking towards the Russians and the Chinese to get badly needed weapons to fight its war that has been complicated by so-called friends, bent on destabilizing the country for ignoble reasons.

And happily too, Nigeria's ambassador to Washington has found his voice and is reciprocating the unkind gestures of his opposite number in Nigeria.   Nigeria's ambassador to the United States, Professor Ade Adefuye, recently took on the US government for refusing to sell “lethal weapons” to Nigeria to decimate the terrorists.

“The U.S. government has up till today refused to grant Nigeria's request to purchase lethal equipment that would have brought down the terrorists within a short time,” Adefuye told Council on Foreign Relations, which incidentally was purveyor of a position paper some years back that Nigeria will disintegrate in 2015. (Many actually suspect that that is the agenda at play by centrifugal western forces, but as many have said, God forbid!)

Adefuye added: “We find it difficult to understand how and why, in spite of the U.S. presence in Nigeria with their sophisticated military technology, Boko Haram should be expanding and becoming more deadly.”    He said that Washington had refused Nigeria's requests to buy heavy weaponry because of allegations the defense forces have violated the human rights of Boko Haram suspects. 

This, coming from a country that recently told a UN panel in Geneva that it tortured terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, but that it had since taken steps to prevent any future use of unlawful, coercive interrogation techniques, baffles.

“The United States is proud of its record as a leader in respecting, promoting, and defending human rights and the rule of law, both at home and around the world,” Mary McLeod, the acting State Department legal adviser, told the panel. “But in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, we regrettably did not always live up to our values.”

The State Department, according to the Boston Globe on its website, had proposed changing the Bush-era position on the scope of the cruelty ban, but faced resistance from military and intelligence lawyers, who raised unspecified operational concerns. Administration officials have described the debate as a technical legal matter about unintended consequences and said no one was proposing the use of cruelty or torture in interrogations, which is banned under US law.

Speaking rather hypocritically, Tom Malinowksi, the assistant secretary of state for human rights, said that there was no place the United States considered itself free to use torture.    “We believe that torture, and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and punishment are forbidden in all places, at all times, with no exceptions,” Malinowski said. “The legal and moral argument against torture would be dispositive under any circumstances. It would not matter to that argument if torture were effective; our experience also taught us that it is not.”

But the Boston Globe gave further details of proceedings: after the opening presentation by US officials, several members of the panel posed questions. Among them, Alessio Bruni of Italy asked why an appendix to the US Army Field Manual on interrogation permitted limiting a detainee to four hours of sleep a night, as part of a special procedure for separating captives to prevent them from communicating.

Bruni noted that four hours of sleep, especially over an extended period, was “definitely insufficient for a majority of people” and could be a “form of ill treatment.” 

Both Bruni and Jens Modvig of Denmark also pressed the delegation to discuss the US military's practice of force-feeding detainees at Guantánamo, who are on hunger strikes.

Meanwhile, this is a country that describes herself as a friend of Nigeria, yet insidiously allowing our enemies to weigh us down, but the United States forgets the resilience of Nigerian nation and how we have overcome challenges in the past. With Jonathan in the saddle, even this shall come to pass.

But our leaders must stand in the forefront of calling the bluff of unfriendly nations, including Chad, which is believed to be exploiting oil in the Chad basin with 3D technology on the Nigerian end with the active connivance of prominent Nigerians and foreign business interests that want the Boko Haram war to continue for selfish interests. These businessmen and foreign interests must be taught a bitter lesson so that others who consider such treacherous tendencies in future will have a precedent to deter them.

Mr Ayelabowo sent this piece from Ibadan.
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