Nigerian doubts over Africom base
The Nigerian government has said it would not allow its country to be used as a base for the US-African military command, Africom.
At a meeting of the National Council of State, President Umaru Yar’Adua said that Nigeria was also opposed to any such bases in West Africa.
He said Nigeria would prefer to work towards the establishment of an African standby force under regional direction.
The decision leaves Liberia as the only country willing to host the Americans.
There has been considerable unease in many African nations about American plans to establish a new military command for the continent.
Largely to allay those fears, US deputy secretary of state John Negroponte went on an African tour last week, outlining his plans.
But Nigeria, West Africa’s regional superpower and key oil supplier to the US, remains unconvinced.
“The president restated the position of Nigeria not permitting a US base in our country or sub-region but to work towards the establishment of an African standby force,” said Governor Bukola Saraki after the meeting.
Nigeria is not alone in its opposition – South Africa and Libya have also voiced strong reservations.
They dislike the idea of an American military base in their own backyard, undermining their regional influence.
There is also concern that Africom is really an attempt to protect US oil and mineral interests in Africa, amid growing competition for resources from Asian economies.
Then there are fears about the continent being drawn into the US war on terror.
The US says the base is not about militarisation but consolidating existing operations under one single command, while helping Africans with military training and supporting peacekeeping and aid operations.
But for countries like Nigeria, help is one thing – a base is quite another.
By Alex Last Reporting for: