Prof Jega, 5 Others Warn President Tinubu against Signing Defense pact with America, France

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Nigeria is at the verge of commiting another major political blunder as its leadership is under intense pressure to sign a defense pact that may undermine her sovereignty, complete with all the daunting security implications.

When signed this pact will enable the redeployment of American and French soldiers that were recently expelled from three countries in the Sahel region to Nigeria and a few other countries in the gulf of Guinea.

Towards this end, it has been reported that the leadership of Nigeria is currently under intense lobby to give a nod to this plan.

Sensing that President Ahmed Bola Tinubu may cave-in to the lobby, former INEC Chairman and notable academic, Prof Attahiru Jega and some civil society heavy lifters of Northern extraction penned an open letter to president Tinubu yesterday to dissuade him from nursing any positive thoughts of saying ‘aye’ to the plan.

Apart from Prof Jega, the other authors of the open letter comprised of Abubakar Siddique Mohammed of the Centre for Democratic Development, Research and Training (CEDDERT),
Zaria; Kabiru Sulaiman Chafe,
Arewa Research and Development Project (ARDP), Kaduna; Jibrin Ibrahim
Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Abuja; Auwal Musa (Rafsanjani), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Abuja; and Y. Z. Ya’u, Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) in Kano.

They argued that “Nigerians have consistently opposed defense
agreement with foreign countries since the 1960s when the Balewa administration was
forced to abrogate the Anglo-Nigerian Defense Agreement because the agreement contained a clause which allowed the Royal Airforce to overfly and test its aircrafts in Nigeria.”

They further contended that another reason, which remains valid till this day, why the late Prime Minister was compelled to abrogate the agreement was that it was considered as an “impairment of Nigeria’s freedom of action” as sustaining such agreement could drag the country into a war against its wish.

The group advanced other compelling reasons, backed by numerous internationally documented cases, to insist that President Tinubu, whom they suspect seemed favourably disposed, must not sign the pact. For instance, they argued that allowing the American and French troops, which were recently flushed out from Niger to resettle in Nigeria would be a major affront that could conflict relations between the two brother nations which were merely separated by colonial demarcation.

Citing the claim by one of Nigeria’s most successful foreign affairs ministers, late Gen Joseph Garba, they argued, “Nigeria’s neighbors are a matter of colonial
heritage and socio-cultural diversity; but it is in our Nigeria’s interest to deliberately
cultivate the friendship of our neighbours.”

The group therefore pleaded with President Tinubu not to yield to the immense pressure being put on him to sign the pact because of numerous other downsides that include the bad blood that it may breed between Nigeria and its immediate neighbours and other friendly nations from the Eastern bloc.

The group therefore, advised that the president should not further encumber the current tense security situation of Nigeria by introducing a foreign element into the troubling mix.

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