Is this for real???
Gulf of Guinea - Govt Soft-Pedals On U.S. Military
This Day (Lagos)NEWS
17 September 2007 Posted to the web 17 September 2007
By Juliana TaiwoAbuja
A senior government official has given reasons why the Federal Government may soft-pedal on its moves to frustrate the plan by the United States to establish a military base in the Gulf of Guinea.
THISDAY had reported last week moves by the Nigerian government to checkmate the military adventure of the United States in the oil-rich region.
But the official told THISDAY yesterday in reaction to the story that Nigeria cannot ward off the US because Nigeria "has not shown enough commitment in securing the region".
He disclosed that Nigeria government was expected to have invested $1 billion from excess crude account into the coastal security and safety arrangement in the last two years but had failed.
"The point is this, the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, had seen the wisdom as a former military head of state to secure the area and immediately ordered strategic surveillance of the costal zone and the Niger Delta.
"But the Nigerian officials were not comfortable with the way he was going about it because it was supposed to be subjected to debate at the floor of the National Assembly. And Obasanjo knowing that anything on national defence and security issues cannot be subjected to debate went ahead to mobilise the Navy and the Air Force for what the US called minimum security requirement for that zone because oil is important to US," he disclosed.
The senior government official said the US government expected Nigeria to have minimum-security provisions but unfortunately in the last four months the US department discovered that the process was suddenly slowing down and the new government may not go at the speed it expected.
"The US government has completed all the ground work and has moved into the offshore of Sao Tome and Principe, Angola and Guinea to secure position for their submarines and other security facilities. Nigeria is the only country that has the minimum requirement and the financial capacity to provide those facilities (vessels for the Navy and satellite communication facilities amongst others for the Air Force) because these other African countries cannot afford to put down even one per cent of what is required.
"It is a challenge for the President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua to quickly work within his own defence structure and pump the money as well as continue with that his predecessor was doing if indeed it is serious about security that area though I really doubt if they can match the US now," he said.
A senior military official had disclosed to THISDAY last week that the Federal Government had begun moves to frustrate the plan by the United States to establish a military base in the Gulf of Guinea.
Defence sources had further disclosed that the Federal Government was already discussing with heads of government of the African Union and leaders of the sub-regional body, the Economic Community of West African State, on how to block any move by US to establish a base in the gulf.
"Nigeria is not taking the issue lightly at all and the government is not going to allow the US establish any military base anywhere in the ECOWAS region. The interest of the US government in the Gulf of Guinea has reinforced the commitment of the government to intensify its efforts at providing the needed security in the sub-region," the source had said.
The gulf's oil and gas deposit is put in the region of 10 billion barrels.
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