American forces would be painful to watch in Nigeria

What Would American Forces Coming To Solve Nigerian Security Problems Look Like?

by Okechukwu

Late last month, Major General Muhammed Buhari (Retd) through a statement from his media aide Femi Adesina called on the United States of America to move their African Command, AFRICOM to Africa from its base in Germany. “In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the  United States to consider re-locating Africom Headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa, near the Theatre of Operation.”

When I read this statement, I felt weak in my joints. I didn’t understand how Adesina who used to be an editor of a major Nigerian newspaper failed to understand something this basic: America never solves security problems. America’s strongest strengths are in serving as a deterrent (for which they are successful in Europe, South Korea, and Taiwan) or using their clout to freeze financial support to enemy combatants (with which they defeated Al Qaeda and decimated ISIS).

But when you ask America to put foot on your soil or fly drones in your sky, you have signed an accord with the devil and the damage would be enormous and the problem would never go away. Look at Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lybia, none of these countries are at peace and none of them is better of than before America came.

In 2009, there were whispers that America is considering moving Africom to Nigeria. There was an outrage against this and President Yar’adua went on air to say that AFRICOM won’t come to Nigeria or any part of Africa.

In 2014, at the heat of the #BringBackOurGirls Campaign, Goodluck Jonathan implored the help of American forces in bringing them back. There was an outrage against this, mostly from the north who claimed that Jonathan was bringing fellow Christian soldiers from America to kill Muslims in the north.


In 2021, we are inviting America in. History is lost on us, history would be the death of us. First, let’s look at what is America’s motives for committing their forces to a place (and whether Nigeria even factors in these).

America motifs for committing forces anywhere and whether Nigeria fits

In the period after World War 2 up until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, America’s interventionist policy was run by their desire to counter the Soviets and communism. In the new century from 2000, Islamic terrorism became the number one reason for America’s global policing.

In all these times, oil has played a role in its role. Today, with the American oil reserve near brim-full and with climate change push politically sizzling and advancement in electric automobiles surging towards mass usage, oil is no longer the big deal it used to be.

Countering China might be a reason why America come to Africa, but the battle for control of Africa against China is more economical than military.

So why should America come to Nigeria and invest military resources and risk American lives? Why should they come to a black country that, compared to states in America, has a GDP not even among the top 15 states in the United States?

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This is a question that Buhari and Adesina should ask themselves. Nigeria is not as important outside Nigeria as Nigerians, most especially politicians, would have you think. The only reason why America would come to Nigeria is if Boko Haram becomes an international threat capable of bombing American embassies in the West and Central African regions, capturing and beheading westerners on Youtube, and capable of hijacking planes.

Even at that, America is more likely to just send in drones to bomb Boko Haram enclaves. There may be a dozen or two officers in Lagos controlling this operation, but the committing of thousands of troops in Africa, Nigeria in particular, is an impossibility.

In case you didn’t notice – you being Adesina or Buhari or just a random Tunde – America is withdrawing their troops from Afganistan and closing that war chapter. America is in a withdrawing mode, Dear Adesina. The fact that a Democrat is the commander-in-chief doesn’t help the Adesina dream.


How American forces in Nigeria would operate

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that America moves its AFRICOM headquarters to Kaduna, northwest Nigeria. Besides the obvious abdication of its primary duty to a foreign government, let’s see how the Nigerian government having American forces on its shores would ban out.

1. It would energize Boko Haram 


Boko Haram seeing American troops in Nigeria would count it as a victory. They have succeeded in bringing the biggest military force on earth with their assaults. They would think they are a big deal and that the only reason why Nigeria is calling for American help is because they (Boko Haram) have defeated Nigeria.

The next task, they would reason is to go after America and defeat them as well.

Of course, Boko Haram would not beat America in a one-on-one battle and Boko Haram and the bandits know this. What they would do is to resolve in carrying out attacks and kidnapping that would embarrass America. Now, the news would no longer be that bandits kidnap school children, it would be that bandits kidnapped schoolchildren in spite of America’s military presence.

2. It would draw international terrorists and their network of sympathizers into Nigeria

ISIS, ISIL, Al-Shabad, and whatever is left of Al-Qaeda would now see Nigeria as the new theatre in the war against infidels or whatever it is that those terrorists fight for. And they won’t come alone. They would come with their sympathizers made up of wealthy Arabs in Saudi, Qatar, and elsewhere who would open their wallets and pour millions of dollars into Nigeria.


America may not have sent in a force strong enough to counter these renewed allied terrorists. If things get bad, the American media and politicians would start pressuring the president to bring the troops home. It would be a mess.

3. Russia would look for a backdoor to come in

As we have seen in Syria and Venezuela, and Sudan, Russia is no longer contented with flexing its muscles in East Europe, they are out to have their presence felt globally. The question would be how would Russia come in? The Americans were invited, the Russians weren’t, so how would they come in?

Through proxies. Russia has never pretended to be the good guys and they are not interested in playing by the rules. There are a lot of militia groups in Nigeria – the legitimate and the illegitimate, or rather the ones that the governors of South West and the governors of South East respectively created and others.


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What Russia needs to do is not difficult; they would infiltrate one of these groups and use them as a buffer for the Americans. The Russians won’t be interested in the security of Nigeria, it would be about countering the Americans, and there is no light foot on the pedal for the Russians, they go for the kill.

Other medium to big powers such as Turkey and Iran may look to come in (we are already “attractive” to Iran as we have a persecuted Shiite minority).


Nigeria may end up becoming a field where superpowers and not-so-superpowers flex muscles.

4. American presence in Nigeria would spike tensions among the regions

The only neutral place American troops can be stationed in Nigeria without rancour would be Abuja but Abuja is far from the theatre of terrorism which is what, we assumed, would bring Americans here. If the troops are stationed in the north, northerners would say infidels have come to kill them off. The fact that Buhari is another Muslim wouldn’t make the needed difference – they could claim that Buhari was arm-twisted or tricked into accepting these forces.


Locate the military in the East and Igbos would see them as an occupying force and wonder why they are not in Sambisa Forest where the main threats are. Locate these troops in the middle belt or the West and there would be serious kicks against them.

The idea of America coming to Nigeria is a good one while it’s just an idea to many Nigerians. Once the troops set foot in Nigeria, the issue would be regionalized. The average northerner won’t mind the soldiers being in the East. A southeasterner would be glad to see the soldiers in the north. No one would want it to be in their backyard.

So what is the use? It might have served its usefulness. Buhari’s regime may have used it to buy time while doing nothing about the insecurity failures that are threatening to take over the country. American forces under AFRICOM or whatever guise they are coming in only looks good on paper. The reality is unprintably disastrous.

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