“Why French And US Military Bases In Nigeria Won’t Aid The Fight Against Terrorism”

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Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, a scholar and senior fellow at the Centre for Democracy and Development, cautioned against the establishment of French and US military bases in Nigeria, asserting that such actions would not effectively combat terrorism.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today, Ibrahim highlighted concerns that Nigeria could risk confrontation with Russia, which has deployed troops in Niger following the expulsion of French and American forces by the junta there.

Despite calls from some northern leaders to host foreign military bases after their expulsion from neighboring Francophone West African countries, Ibrahim argued that the presence of French and American troops in Nigeria would not significantly impact counterterrorism efforts.

He pointed out that the presence of these foreign forces in the Sahel region for over a decade has not quelled the activities of terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, and Boko Haram. Additionally, Ibrahim emphasized the importance of preserving Nigeria’s sovereignty and neutrality in relation to global superpowers.

He said, “The French have been in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger for 12 years. During that period, terrorism grew, it became completely out of control, arms to terrorists continued to flow, and they (insurgents) were controlling more and more territories.

“So, this argument that it (the French presence) will help resolve the problem of terrorism, why haven’t they done that in all the other countries where they have gone to so-called help on terrorism? We know empirically that it’s a false claim that they will help in the fight against terrorism.”

Ibrahim, alongside notable northern leaders, penned a letter to President Bola Tinubu cautioning against the transfer of French and American military bases from the turmoil-ridden Sahel nations to Nigeria.

Among the signatories were Prof Attahiru Jega, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); Prof Abubakar Mohammed from the Centre for Democratic Development, Research, and Training (CEDDERT) in Zaria; Prof Kabiru Chafe, former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources; and Auwal Musa (Rafsanjani) of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CCISLAC) in Abuja.

These leaders alleged that the US and French governments were lobbying Nigeria to host their military bases after being ousted from Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger Republic by junta-led regimes. Ibrahim claimed that these nations utilize military bases to surveil the region, with Nigeria being strategically positioned near Niger Republic.

He warned that hosting foreign military bases would jeopardize Nigeria’s national security, especially given recent strained relations with fellow ECOWAS nations Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso.

These countries, having expelled French and American troops, have aligned with Russia and permitted Moscow’s troops on their soil. Ibrahim advocated for maintaining military relations with France and the US while preserving Nigeria’s neutrality, considering the rivalry between Russia and the US.

He expressed relief at the Nigerian Government’s clarification on Monday that it was not contemplating hosting any foreign military bases in Nigeria.

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