Following South Africa’s voluntary nuclear disarmament in 1994, making the country the first nation in the world to give up all its nuclear arms. Does African nations need to re-introduce such devastating weapons?
Does African Countries Need Nuclear Weapons?
Africa is the least defended continent in the world. It is the least influential continent diplomatically. It’s the weakest continent by military power. Yet Africa is the most resource-rich continent. It has the worlds youngest population. It is estimated that by 2030 seven of the worlds ten fastest growing economies will come from Africa. If Libya invasion never happened, if Boko Haram never flourished, if terrorism never gained a foothold in Africa, if the CIA and France had done what the British did, leave its ex-colonies alone, there is a good chance that Africa by now will look complete different.
If the only remaining dictatorship in Africa ( Cameroon and Chad) had been pressured by the world’s two oldest constitutional democracies (United States and France) had used their economic and diplomatic influence to push for democracy and reforms rather than reward dictators with official recognition and military cooperation, they would have achieved some level economic independence and by extension never be used as proxy to destabilize the region. Africa would not have overtaken the continent as the most conflict-ridden continent in the world, housing the deadliest terrorist group in the world.
But alas, the opposite has been the case. The failure and inability of South Africa and Nigeria to stop NATOs destruction of an AU member state highlight how weak and powerless Africa is in the global arena. But what if one or two or more African country had the military wherewithal to deter the world powers from using Africa as a testing ground and proxy in their power struggle? What if one or two African countries had nuclear weapons? What if South Africa never gave up her nukes? What if Nigeria did not buckle the way it did under U.S and French threats when North Korea offered to sell Nigeria ballistic missile democracy? Unfortunately, life doesn’t give you “what ifs”
But is the degraded military capability of Africa’s most powerful militaries by design?
A lot of pressure is being mounted on the leaders of Africa by the United States and its allies the west to sign the NPT in order to prevent Africa countries from acquiring and developing nuclear weapons to the detriment of the continent’s development while the powers that behold the monopoly. Otherwise what was the rationale behind South Africa, a country that constructed six nuclear weapons and the seventh under construction, and even tested same, all of a sudden decided to dismantle them, thus rendering all put together, including finance, to assemble the materials and develop them, to be in vain, and then became the first country in Africa to sign the NPT. Does it even make sense?
In a similar vein, after spending many resources to acquire nuclear weapons technology, Libya decided to invite the IAEA to inspect its nuclear facilities which she later destroyed, though not yet functional, and stopped the program. Can this act of stupidity be rationalized? Today the same Libya that decided to restore relations with the West and destroyed her nuclear program has been torn apart by the very same West. Remember Hillary Clinton’s famous remark?
We came. We saw. He died. A disrespect and shame to the African Union.
In the case of Nigeria, for the past thirty-five years, three nuclear training and research centers were established to meet the nuclear needs of the Nigerian people, as of today, nothing has come out of it successfully. Are Nigerians even aware that there are five training and research centers established within five universities in the country, yet there is no prospect of developing them due to pressure from the west?
Similarly in 2008, after Vice President prematurely opened his mouth about Abuja’s and Pyongyang’s ballistic missile partnership, the United States and France warned Nigeria not to rely on rogue nation in its quest to acquire nuclear technology and that Washington was closely monitoring the growing clamor by Abuja to join the elite group of nuclear nation with great apprehension.
The White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino said,
“it is a concern shared by the administration about the spread of nuclear materials. That America is concerned about Nigeria’s discussion with Iran and on the acquisition of nuclear materials…”.
This was actually in reaction to a statement made by the then Nigeria’s Science and Technology minister, Mrs. Grace Ekpiwhre, that the government will continue efforts to build nuclear power plants as an answer to the country’s electricity needs.
In a swift reaction, the then Nigerian minister of Foreign Affairs, Ojo Maduekwe, denied that the country wants nuclear weapons from Iran after Washington protested to Aso Rock on the deal. What this means is that warning, threat and pressure from outside, hampers the continent’s nuclear development efforts.
AFRICAN FOREIGN POLICY DECISIONS/POSTURE
All through history, especially prior to and immediately Nigeria attained independence, its foreign policy was directed towards the west. The height of this pro-westernization was the period between 1957 and the end of civil war in 1970.
In fact, Tafawa Balewa’s regime’s commitment to the west was aggressive and loyal to a fault, that anything outside the west made no meaning to the regime. Despite his consistent stance on non-alignment, his speeches on major national and international issue betrayed him.
To justify this assertion, he made statements like, “we shall never forget our old friends”, “those we are accustomed to”, etc, apparently referring to Britain and the United States as Nigeria’s best friends, if not allies; and their leaders more reliable and trustworthy than those from the eastern bloc. Well, Nigerian politicians have historically not been diplomatically smart. Because with that speech Tafawa’s Balewa just made Nigeria a legitimate target for Russia’s SS-18 Satan. We were in the camp of the West. If the nuclear war had started Lagos would have been a legitimate target.
As if that’s not bad enough, Balewa’s government imposed an unprecedented restriction on the number of Soviet diplomats in Nigeria, importation of communist literature and on travel to Soviet bloc countries and discouraged soviet bloc aid and trade. Throughout Balewa’s era, Nigeria was referred to as a “status quo state, a stooge and minion of the west”, and we remained a stooge for decades.
Consider the national embarrassment to Nigeria by Obama’s decision to slap an arm’s embargo on Nigeria and put to kaput Nigeria’s arms deal with Israel and South Africa over Nigeria’s anti-gay legislation, while at the same time offering military assistance to Africa’s two longest sitting dictators. A request that was unsolicited. Nigeria crawled on her knees for years begging to be sold an aircraft that quite frankly we could get something better from the east. And after years of crawling and begging they finally agree to sell us carp, only if we agreed to pay $600 million for a piece of crap that won’t survive 10 minutes in contested airspace.
Presently, Nigeria is gradually restructuring its foreign policy to be all-embracing, including opening diplomatic missions in many countries (West, East, Pakistan and etc) and its latest romance with Russia over the acquisition of nuclear materials and the sponsoring of some Nigerians to Russia and China for further studies. On November 9, Nigeria signed military cooperation with South Korea, to collaborate in the areas of weapons production, training and capacity building to improve combat efficiency.
Despite this restructuring, the character disposition of Nigeria political leadership and her foreign policymakers is still tilted towards the west. What this means is that whatever decision is taken in the west, particularly the United State and Britain still binds on Nigeria.
This has left in its trail suppression, oppression, repression and subjugation of Nigerians and, indeed, Nigeria.
Now that the craze to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is stronger, any attempt by Nigeria to acquire ballistic missile technology will be at the mercy of the West. Whatever decision the West takes Nigeria will no doubt abide by it. Nigeria has to be the most unlucky country in the world. A nation gifted with unmatched resources, one of the worlds smartest countries with one of the most educated people consistently being governed by incompetent leaders with no clue on how to use Nigeria’s economic and diplomatic leverage to pursue her national interest.
First published in Defense Nigeria