The Presidency has said the dreams of Nigeria’s founding fathers for a united and prosperous nation will remain intact, despite doomsday predictions.
The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari,
Garba Shehu, while reacting to a book by the former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, on Sunday, noted that the “dream of our founding fathers of a strong, united and prosperous Nigeria remains very much intact”.
The Presidential spokesman regretted that the US policy and support towards Nigeria, including during the Buhari administration, has been so inconsistent.
“It is a pity that US policy and support towards our country, including during the Buhari administration, has been inconsistent”.
Shehu recalled how in 2005, a US National Intelligence Council paper “Mapping Sub-Saharan Africa’s Future” floated the idea there could be a military coup in Nigeria.
“At the time this was hardly an earth-shattering prediction: 2005 was only six years after the return of civilian democratic rule and just over a decade since the Abacha military coup of 1993 – the final of seven coups since independence. He noted that “for the last 29 years – close to a generation – there have been none.
Garba Shehu reminded that since the return of democracy in 1999 there have been six general elections, four elected presidents, four transfers of power – including one in 2015 between the winning opposition candidate and the losing incumbent president seeking re-election.
“Yet despite all the evidence to the contrary, the collapse predictors keep doubling down on their bets”, he stated.
“Most recently, a retired former US ambassador to Nigeria (2004-2007), John Campbell has updated his book, of which the first edition said:
“While Nigerians often claim they are masters of dancing on the brink without falling off, the radical Islamic insurrection Boko Haram, and escalating violence in the Niger Delta and the North may finally provide the impetus that pushes it into the abyss of state failure”.
Shehu noted, however, that Campbell is always more careful than others who openly claim their predicted collapse is just around the corner.
“But, were it to do so, the likely consequence would be a humanitarian disaster”, according to Campbell in a blog post in 2012 for the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) think-tank.
“That same CFR is now publishing the new edition of Campbell’s book. It seems unlikely the conclusion will be that Nigeria is improving on any measure as – for international Nigeria watchers – there seems little that can ever be found to suggest it is.
“Yet the people of Nigeria – the majority of which were born after the last coup of 1993 – and who have known nothing their whole lives except democracy and elected government are the living proof that democracy is here to stay”
“Though often negative, Campbell does, however, consistently express an important view that it is in the interests of the United States to encourage democracy and security in Nigeria. The government of Nigeria concurs”, said Shehu.
He recalled also, how in 2015, the then newly-elected Buhari government requested the US military support in the form of Super Tucano jet fighters for the Nigerian Air Force. The Nigerian military, security, and intelligence services repeatedly made this request.
“The US administration of the time concurred: the delivery of such jets would help deliver a critical turning point in Nigeria’s struggle against jihadist terrorists across the Sahel.
“Yet two years later, that jet delivery was rescinded, the reasons given that unless Nigeria improved its religious relations between Christianity and Islam then the US support would not be forthcoming in this, and many other areas. Fortunately, today under a new US administration these jets have been delivered.”
Shehu stated that it was in the United States’ interests to help Nigeria become an even-better democracy and stable country, adding that “It is quite another to forever avoid mentioning the last coup was 29 years ago, and that since 1999 Nigeria has enjoyed 23 unbroken years of democratically elected governments and peaceful transition between them.
“It is also inconsistent to preach the need for stability but needlessly delay sharing military equipment in the form of jets – not least when it is now proven they would have helped Nigeria much earlier defeat the terrorists who threaten our country.
“Hopefully, the United States and Nigeria are going to forge ahead with our continuing partnership in fighting terrorism in and out of the sub-region”, Shehu said.