With ‘friends’ like the U.S.
THE United States government helped Boko Haram immensely by refusing to classify them as a terrorist organisation until 2014 and by refusing to sell us arms to fight them. Worst still, they imposed an international arms embargo on us so that we could not buy arms from anyone else in the international community.
When asked why they are doing this to us, they tell us that it is because of the Leahy Act, which prohibits them from selling arms to governments that violate the human rights of their own citizens. They forget that we are in the middle of a bitter war and that our enemies are being sponsored and supported by both ISIL and Al Qaeda.
They forget that over 50,000 innocent Nigerians have been slaughtered in cold blood and thousands more raped and abducted during the course of that war over the last five years. They disregard the fact that every day Nigerians are bleeding more and more and that our gallant Armed Forces, through no fault of their own, have not been able to get the necessary weapons to fight back effectively.
Some things are above partisan politics and this is one of them. Regardless of whichever political party we belong to, we must all join forces and support the fight against Boko Haram.
We must do this regardless of party affiliation because if we don’t, Boko Haram will consume us all, whether we are PDP, APC or anything else. We love and admire the Americans and we regard their country as a bastion of good governance, justice, equity and decency.
We also recognise the fact that they have brought an immense amount of good into the world over the last 100 years and that they continue to do so.
However, in this matter of arms supply to our country, it appears to me that a double standard is being applied. It is almost as if they want Nigeria to be brought to her knees and that they want us to be humiliated and destroyed. All the territory that was recovered from Boko Haram by the Jonathan administration is now being threatened again or has been retaken by Boko Haram in the last few weeks.
This comes as a direct consequence of the fact that the Americans have refused to sell us arms and the new allies and friends that the Jonathan administration reached out to in their stead just a few months before leaving power together with the military assistance contracts that they entered into at the time for help in the war against Boko Haram have been terminated.
This is very sad because the immediate consequence of it is the fact that over 1000 Nigerians have been killed by Boko Haram in the last two months alone.
That means over 100 people per week have been murdered by the terrorists since May 29. This must stop and something has to give. We must support the new government in their efforts to stem the tide and to fight terror.
This is all the more important when one considers the fact that there seems to be some hidden agenda on the part of the western powers, led by America, to ensure that we do not acquire the necessary weapons to take on Boko Haram effectively.
When one considers the position of the American government, one is forced to ask the following question: why did they not invoke the Leahy Act against Israel, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Qatar, Egypt, Turkey, Ukraine, Pakistan, Yemen, Kenya and Iraq for human rights violations? Why do they continue to supply arms to the governments of all those countries despite what they have done to many of their own citizens and those that they oppose just outside their borders?
Why is it only Nigeria that they have refused to sell arms to and that they have imposed an international arms embargo on even though we are fighting a civil war against a barbaric, relentless and evil enemy that is being sponsored by ISIL and Al Qaeda?Given all this, I believe that it is time for us as a country to begin to reconsider who our friends really are? They say that a friend in need is a friend indeed. You cannot say that you are our friends whilst you sit by idly and watch the blood of our people being shed on a daily basis yet you refuse to do anything about it.
We are not asking you to send troops to fight for us or to give us free arms. We are not cowards or beggars. We are simply asking to buy sophisticated arms and modern weapons from you so that we can defend our people; yet you keep saying no and you are urging others not to sell to us either.
This is not the act of a friend. It is unacceptable, it is unfair and, if sustained, it will prove to be counter-productive to the interests of the Americans in our country and in the West African sub-region. The truth is that given the attitude of the United States government, I believe that it is time for us to rely far more on our Chinese and Russian friends in our collective war against terror.
I say this because it appears that the western powers and our traditional allies like the United Kingdom, France and America have left us in the lurch. Whichever way we can be rest assured of one thing: Nigeria will never be brought to her knees and ultimately we will win this war because God is with us. • Fani-kayode is a former Minister of Aviation.