Britain (has) offered unspecified assistance to end the state of insecurity/banditry in Nigeria. Despite the unspecified nature, it is not wrong to assume the offer is military instruction or guidance, even if surreptitiouusly disguised. Coming on the heels of the seeming widespread call for foreign aid to end the intransigence of Boko Haram, the frustration and, indeed, desperation could not be more glaring.
Yet, that should not be an excuse for foreign interests, especially with Britain’s background, to sneak in. Right from the eve of Nigeria’s independence in 1960, Britain had continued to seize the opportunity to cling to its special omnibus interest in Nigeria. To that end, one of the secret decisions reached with Nigerian leaders was an Anglo-Nigeria Defence Pact, which would offer Britain military base in Nigeria or enable Nigeria to request military assistance from Britain, if and when necessary. For example, Chile offered Britain such military base to expel Argentina from Falkland Islands during the 1982 war.
Unfortunately, after independence in 1960, news of the secret Anglo-Nigeria Defence Pact got leaked to National Union of Nigerian Students, whose members in 1962, under the leadership of Dapo Falase, in a massive protest, invaded House of Representatives in Lagos and successively demanded instant abrogation of the pact. Any offer, therefore, from Britain to assist in ending Boko Haram should not only be seen in that light but also with the more dangerous prospect of inviting ISIS on a more daring military misadventure to Nigeria.
With its latest offer, Britain is just being true to its reputation since its colonial days in Nigeria. It is bad enough with its (Britain’s) notorious vested interests of tilting Nigeria to a prefered position, at the end of which it would be a question of time for eruption. In any case, where is the record that Britain is better in combating guerilla warfare? Britain’s offer is coming at a time when United States is turning down Nigeria’s request to relocate America’s African Command from Germany to Africa. In short, after another bitter experience in Afghanistan, leading to unscheduled withdrawal. If not humiliating, that withdrawal was not complimentary. If Americans are always realistic (as was the country’s withdrawal from Vietnam in 1968, the same cannot be said of Britain.
After military fiasco in one country, the ex-colonial overlord always seeks another area of fresh influence. That was Britain’s disaster in Northern Ireland, leading to a forced agreement, thanks to ex-American President Bill Clinton leaving behind a legacy of bitterness between Catholics and Protestants. That was the same legacy, arising from its colonial rule in Nigeria, Britain planted among the various component ethnic groups in the country. By the way, Britain’s offer to deal with Boko Haram should be of great concern for Nigerians.
Britain is very calculating. This so-called offer is not without special interests. In less than two years, Nigeria is due for general election, which may be more monumental than that of 2015. But for Britain’s role in Nigeria’s crisis in the very early hours of the counter-coup in August 1966, General Yakubu Gowon told us that, “The basis for unity is not there. It is badly rocked, not only once, but many times.”
Then Sir Cumming Francis Bruce, British High Commissioner in Nigeria, advised against the imminent announcement of the landmark total restructuring of Nigeria. Why did Britain intervene to stop that development? Gowon is alive. Over 50 years later, we are still fighting over that “restructuring”. Gowon’s complaint on August 1, 1966, that the basis for unity in Nigeria “is not there but badly rocked, not once but many times,” is still dangling over Nigeria today. Britain must not be allowed again to wrong-foot the destiny of Nigerian people as it did in 1966 and will continue to do, if allowed in the 2023 elections.
And here is an irony: Britain in 1966 halted Yakubu Gowon from restructuring Nigeria. On the other hand, Britain had no qualms to restructure itself to preserve its genuineness and oneness as a country. About 50 years ago, following the discovery of oil in the North Sea, Scots commenced agitation not only for the control of their resources but, specifically, also, separate parliament. The people of Wales similarly would not be left out. Fifty years later, there are three parliaments in Britain today, products of self-restructuing to preserve the United Kingdom. Even then, the Scots, despite their control of the oil, are still demanding referendum for break-up of the United Kingdom and independent Scotland.
Autonomy in Nigeria is for all.
Chelsea ‘rejects,’ yet so productive
By the next time Chelsea, the reigning European champions, qualify for another final of the competition, the English club won’t feel derogatory to once again be widely considered underdogs. For the second time that unenviable status prevailed, either because their opponents all along underestimated Chelsea or because the status of underdogs precluded adequate assessment of Chelsea’s strength from their opponents. For the second time, Chelsea catapulted from gloom to glory. The first time of that feat was at the finals of the same cup in 2012 in Germany against Bayern Munich.
Even then, any self-prayer as underdogs might not have won the trophy for Chelsea. In 2012, Chelsea had many individual stars. The same could not be said of the latest conquerors of Manchester City. Unlike in 2012, the real winners of the cup for Chelsea in 2021 were the defenders almost as a bloc, much to the surprise of spectators all over the world. Much to their surprise? That stage was set by Chelsea proprietor Roman Abramovich’s dismissal of erstwhile manager, Frank Lampard, some three months ago. That dismissal itself, apart from the clear and seeming foundation for the club’s eventual relegation to the lower division next season, somewhat seemed to have been received by fans wit mixed feelings because Lampad was much loved as a “home grown” ex-Chelsea veteran. But as weeks passed after Lampad, reality dawned on Chelsea fans that Lampad’s dismissal was justifiable.
What with the total reverse in the club’s fortunes, first to the final of the English FA cup lost to Leicester 1-2. There was also the cut-throat rivalry to qualify for Europe next season. Chelsea lost its final match to Aston Villa but still managed to pip Leicester for the fourth place on the table. Furthermore, Chelsea attained another seeming impossible by eliminating one of the world’s best, Real Madrid, on away and home basis in the semi-final of the European Champion Clubs competition. Yet none of these ever erased Chelsea’s underdog status in the final. For that epic contest, there could not be much hope for these underdogs. However, for Chelsea defenders, the final was a serious business.
Before the arrival of Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel three months ago, only one Chelsea player, Thiago Silva, was ever a grudging regular and so played by the then manager Lampard. Otherwise, all the other defenders were not only benched but also regularly indicated to the soccer world as sales target next season and regularly identified in the Chelsea-favoured sections of the media. Right back/captain Azplicutia, left back Rudiga, half back Jorginho and midfield holder Ngolo Kante. If these fellows had been benched in the finals against Manchester as Lampad always did, Chelsea would have conceded not less than four goals.
To be fair, Chelsea manager Lampard left his mark. Right half back Reece James, only 21, was a member of Chelsea’s Academy but Lampard discovered him and registered him for that position in the first team. Following that discovery and potential, Reece James was one of those Chelsea outstanding defenders who not only kept their Manchester City opponents at bay but also effectively neutralised the menace of the hungry goal hunters.
Chelsea’s manager Thomas Tuchel? The man who shocked the 2021 soccer world.
Quick from Uganda
That was a quick response from Uganda. Four weeks ago, Nigerian government was chided in this column for allowing itself to be used to shore up the unpopular government in Uganda. Four days ago, Uganda’s transport minister survived assassination attempt at the expense of his daughter and his driver.
Poor lady. May the driver also rest in peace.