Presidency accuses Kukah, others of blackmailing Nigeria in US

The Presidency on Sunday said the United States’ policy and support to Nigeria had been inconsistent over the years, especially as regards the provision of military equipment to fight the decade-long insecurity in the Sahel region.

It also berated US policy experts and think-tanks for their perennial attempts at predicting the country’s collapse; which, it said, did not paint a true picture of a country which has enjoyed 23 years of steady democracy 29 years since its last coup.

Citing the delayed delivery of 12 Super Tucano jet fighters for the Nigerian Air Force, the Presidency noted that the reasons given for the delay—poor interreligious relations between Christianity and Islam in the country—were compounded by the constant lobbying of US Congress by the opponents of the Nigerian government including the Catholic Bishop of Diocese of Sokoto, Mathew Kukah, whom it accused of projecting a warped picture of Nigeria’s 23-year-old democracy to the global community.

These were contained in a statement on Sunday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled, ‘Predicting Nigeria’s collapse is a perennial pursuit of US think tanks and policy experts.’

Shehu also accused the Catholic Bishop of Diocese of Sokoto, Mathew Kukah , and “opponents of the Nigerian government who had lost the previous election, and many of their southern religious supporters” of constant lobbying of US Congress against Nigeria.

The statement read in part, “It is a pity therefore that US policy and support towards our country, including during the Buhari administration, has been so inconsistent.

“In 2015, the then newly-elected Buhari government requested 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Yet two years later, that jet delivery was rescinded, the reasons given that unless Nigeria improved its religious relations between Christianity and Islam then US support would not be forthcoming in this, and many other areas.

“Such views were compounded by the constant lobbying of US Congress by the opponents of the Nigerian government who had lost the previous election, and many of their southern religious supporters—including Bishop Mathew Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of Diocese of Sokoto, who, unsurprising, provides a supportive quote for the dust cover of the new edition of Campbell’s book. (Kukah even took to addressing the US Congress himself, briefing his audience on the history of coups in Nigeria—without, of course, mentioning that none had occurred since 1993, some 29 years ago).

“Fortunately, now today under a new US administration these jets have been delivered, and with it, a serious blow against the terrorists—with the supreme leader of Islamic State in West Africa and scores of other leaders of the group eliminated in airstrikes.

“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.”

The Presidency also lamented that despite glaring contrary evidence, those predicting Nigeria’s imminent collapse have continued to bet big on their words.

It said, “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. However, for the last 29 years—close to a generation—there have been none.

“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. Most recently, retired former US Ambassador to Nigeria 2004-7, John Campbell, has updated his book of which the first edition stated that while Nigerians often claimed they were masters of dancing on the brink without falling off, the disastrous administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, the radical Islamic insurrection Boko Haram, and escalating violence in the delta and the north might finally provide the impetus that would push it into the abyss of state failure.”

“That didn’t happen: Jonathan was defeated at the 2015 general elections and power was peacefully transferred to President Muhammadu Buhari.”

According to Shehu, 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.

He stated, “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.

“It is all very well to claim it is in the United States’ interests to help Nigeria become an even-better democracy and stable country. It is quite another to forever avoid mentioning the last coup which was 29 years ago, and that since 1999, Nigeria has enjoyed 23 unbroken years of democratically elected governments and peaceful transitions.”

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