Botched South Africa Arms Deal: Putting The Scandal Into Perspectives
By Yekinni Shakiru A
The admission by the twin party of the Federal government of Nigeria (FGN) and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), of knowledge of the botched illegal arms deal in far away South Africa on the private jet of the latter reeks of treachery.
To this duo best described as partners in crime and their cohorts, the quick admission of knowledge of the illegal deal portrays ‘responsibility’ and is expected to attenuate the magnitude of the scandal. To discerning Nigerians however, this scandal readily fixes into a large portion of the puzzle regarding the intractable insurrection wrecking havoc on the country. The enormity of the admission is scary. By this admission, the Federal Government accepts culpability to a violation of the territorial integrity of a fellow African country. It admitted to the possibility of being a party to the perpetration and escalation of perennial communal conflict for which illegal arms deal is a major pillar. It admitted to thwarting the efforts of the AU, the UN and other multilateral bodies in ending light arms proliferation linked to violence especially on the African soil
On the home front, the admission conforms to the pattern of disintegration that threatens the existence of the country. Nigerians for long have suspected the metamorphosis of the Boko Haram sect into its ‘new’ and current form. They have wondered how the ‘war-aim’ of the sect changed from engaging the Nigerian state to that of total annihilation of the entire northeast and its inhabitants. Nigerians have been left confounded as to the source of the sophisticated firepower of the sect, which made Nigerian soldiers develop cold feet at the mere mention of its name. They have wondered why the strategy of the Federal Government fell short of swiftness and deft; why reconnaissance and air offensive was jettisoned even as the ‘BH’ employs helicopters in its campaign; and why the preference for only ‘retaliatory’ killings which never admits of innocent civilian casualty!
Until now, pro- Government apologists and pseudo-analysts and so called ‘security experts’, including their lackeys in the media have had us believe that both Al Qaeda and the Taliban have ‘met’ to arm Boko Haram to the teeth, even without a shred of evidence. While these pseudo- analysts and experts betray a poor understanding of geography and logistics, their ‘cohorts’ in the media displayed crass mediocrity and preference for sensational rather than investigative journalism. Of course official security agencies burrowed under these thin covers to feed Nigerians with irrational and illogical explanations on their conduct of the counter insurgency
As heinous a crime as this scandal is, beneficiaries of this epileptic administration have gone on air to provide spurious explanations. One of them claimed the scenario is normal under an insurgency situation; another claimed that America and some Western countries denied official arms transaction with the FG. Neither of these nor any of the other explanations holds water. For instance, it is not the case that the people of the northeast have declared war on the nation in which case it would have been argued that the arms was for a fifth column operation in the enemy camp with the expectation of a damage from within. If weapons have gone out to parties other than Nigerian soldiers, it would only have gone to ‘insurgents’ whose attacks have been indiscriminately directed at the same people they are insinuated to wanting to rule. Even if Western countries refused to sell arms to the Federal Government, (due probably to what they know that the rest of us don’t; just like their refusal to work with our military on the excuse that it is divided), other weapons-producing nations like Russia and China would have been too glad to sell to us even on credit! Moreover, why was the South African authorities not notified of the deal before hand? Summarily what we have here is a case of clandestine plot to fester the insurgency for sectional and political gains by those pushing and funding it!
Again, the process through which the deal got to that advanced stage is also a case for worry and needs scrutiny. It is clear that the deal has circumvented official military line/protocols, has it also circumvented official budgetary appropriation? This draws in the Finance Ministry as regards who provided the seized fund now in the coffers of the South African government. If the process circumvented official lines and protocols, the ‘disbursement’ too, had the deal sailed, would have equally circumvented Nigerian soldiers, so, for whom are the weapons meant? Is this the first of such purchase, and why not with an aircraft from the Air force or the Presidency?
On the connection of the CAN president to the scandal, it is no surprise. Many watchers of our polity have noticed how the self-anointed ‘man of God’ has wielded enormous influence in this administration. Oritsejafor is an active background player in the Boko Haram saga. His utterances, insinuations, and threats have all favored an escalation of the crisis. He and his cohorts pushed a political settlement of the Boko Haram crisis out of the way. CAN, under his leadership gave the Chibok Girls’ abduction a religious coloration with the release of the girls’ names along religious lines while the Federal Government looked on. Oritsejafor has before now threatened a ‘nationwide’ Christian retaliation at some points in the Boko Haram crisis that left many wondering whether he has a stockpile of arms and an army to prosecute such. Therefore, if the FG is illegally procuring arms through a company in which he has interest and with his private jet, then we can be certain of the existence of an unholy alliance between the two and for purposes that are necessarily sinister!
Again, looking at the summary of Davis Stephen’s revelation about Boko Haram’s sponsors; it puts it to us that the latest phase of the insurgency is a ‘cloned’ form of its original. And if Modu Sherriff was connected to the first and original Boko Haram, Iherijieka was connected to the ‘new’ and ‘improved’ one that we have seen to be more sophisticated and morbid at killing. It is therefore beyond conjectures that illegal arms must have been getting into some wrong hands even before now with the poor people of the northeast becoming hapless victims of a double-pronged war.
As for the Israeli connection, spies and arms dealers of Israeli origin spread across the world have reputation for fermenting and arming oppositions and militia groups especially across Africa. They have always found haven where bigots like Oritsjafor wield influence. They once supported a secessionist bid in this country. The latest victim of their divisive and insidious activities is South-Sudan. After a referendum sliced that country away from Sudan, Salvar Kiir (who succeeded John Garang) has driven his own people nearly to a state of genocide over the same reason of resource control for which they went away from Sudan. Israel and its espionage agencies are never known to be part of anything peaceful. We therefore wondered when the ‘Israeli connection’ was made, without forgetting the fact that recently, our President Goodluck Jonathan was in company of the CAN President Oritsejafor for a pilgrimage to Israel; is this a fallout of the trip? The withdrawal of the Catholic Church from CAN is belated. For long, discerning Nigerian Christians have noted with apprehension the war posture of their ‘Commander in Chief’. Many have even condemned him publicly, but because of shared antagonism towards Islam by many among the leadership of CAN, they patted him on the back. Now that he has taken the antagonism to a new level, disowning him does little to absolve of culpability.
Finally, there are those who tried to ameliorate the degree of this scandal by narrowing it down to money laundering or the 2015 General Elections. Neither of these explains it. If the cash was a reward for some job well done, Nigerians have always known how to ferry their ‘cash’ to desired destinations. As for reasons of the elections, the magnitude of the purchase is rather incomprehensible for an electioneering process. This scandal mirrors the IranContra scandal, where sitting American officials sold arms to Iran in order to clandestinely fund the Contra rebellion in Nicaragua despite existing laws prohibiting sales of arms to Iran. Nigeria must get to the bottom of this and appropriate sanctions, even impeachment must be considered.
Yekinni Shakiru A.
ED: Center for Global Peace Initiative (CGPI)