July 10, 2014
By Jude Obuseh
In recent months, there has been significant attention on Boko Haram, the Islamist fundamentalist group operating in Northern Nigeria, especially after the United States government recognized them as an international terrorist group. While some welcomed this recognition, others raised concerns about its potential implications for Nigeria and the West African sub-region.
The questions arising from this development include: What does Nigeria stand to gain from international recognition of Boko Haram? What are America’s motives in this decision? What kind of future partnership may emerge between the US and Nigeria in countering the group? How will this partnership impact national security?
The United States’ response to 9/11 was to declare a global war on terrorist groups and their supporters. This approach involves a massive coalition of countries aligning their security interests to fight against terrorism collectively. The US-led war on terror has involved strategic alliances with partner nations like Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the US has significant authority in planning and executing operations.
In the case of Nigeria, there are concerns that a full-fledged strategic partnership with the US may lead to a loss of sovereignty and civil liberties. Nigeria might be required to open its borders and allow US military bases, surveillance, and even drone operations, raising fears of collateral damage and potential violation of Nigerian sovereignty.
While the US-led war on terror has made some progress in curbing specific extremist groups, it has also led to the emergence of new ones. Extending this war to Nigeria might escalate the conflict, attracting more extremist groups to the region and widening the circle of violence, with potentially devastating consequences for Nigeria’s security and stability.
Nigeria’s strategic importance to the US, particularly in countering the influence of China in the region, is a crucial factor in their interest. As Nigeria’s security situation becomes intertwined with US interests, Nigerian policymakers must negotiate any proposed alliance from a position of strength, ensuring that it does not compromise national security and sovereignty.
In conclusion, Nigeria must carefully consider the implications of a strategic partnership with the US in its war on terror. While international support can be beneficial, Nigeria must safeguard its interests and ensure that any cooperation does not lead to unintended consequences or the loss of sovereignty.
Founder/Executive Director, CPPBI