Yar’Adua and Bush at the White House
Nigeria has clarified her position on the US/Africa Command (AFRICOM) by restating its opposition to the presence of foreign troops in Nigeria and the Africa continent. Ojo Maduekwe, Nigeria’s Foreign Minister made the clarification in a statement to the media in Washington DC today.
The Minister said it was necessary to clarify Nigeria’s position given the interest the issue has generated.
“President Yar’Adua’s statement on the proposed AFRICOM is consistent with Nigeria’s well-known position on the necessity for Africa to avail itself of opportunities for enhanced capacity for the promotion of peace and security in Africa;
“Nigeria’s position on AFRICOM remains that African Governments have the sovereign responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security in the continent, especially in the context of the proposed African Union Stand-by Force and
“In this regard, the need for support and assistance by Africa’s development partners, such as the United States, in the provision of training, funding and logistics for African militaries was duly acknowledged.” The statement concluded.
President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua himself clarified his position yesterday when he told the Hausa service of the Voice of America (VOA) in Washington DC that his position on AFRICOM remains unchanged.
“I did not accept AFRICOM in my discussions with Bush. I asked for assistance and told Bush that we have our plans to establish bases for African countries. We asked for training on weapons and training to establish our bases to be managed by our people.”
“Seven countries in the Gulf of Guinea will be involved,” he stated. The president said he asked for training from the US government. The US insisted it can only render help through its AFRICOM base in Stuttgart, Germany, said Yar’Adua.
In a chat last night with members of the Nigerian press in Washington, DC, Maduekwe said the country’s position on the issue of foreign troops in Africa has always been firm.
“There is no u-turn on the part of Nigeria or the President. Nothing has changed.”
“What happened is a clearer articulation of US position. The convergence is that we have had long experience of training and sharing of information and if AFRICOM is about training and cooperation then we have no problem with that component.”
“If it is about capacity building, training and logistics we will work with them. But, no country or military is going to come and us like an occupied territory. That will not happen.”
“I can promise you that you will not see American soldiers or marines on the streets of Lagos or Abuja or anywhere in Nigeria running around with guns or a building with AFRICOM signpost on it.” Maduekwe said.