US Attempts to Build a Base in Nigerian TerritoryNigeria Moves to Halt US Military
By Juliana Taiwo in Abuja
Gulf of Guinea
The Federal Government has begun moves to frustrate the
plan by the United States to establish a military base
in the Gulf of Guinea.
The oil-rich gulf is bordered by Nigeria, Angola, Chad,
Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe
US has been desperately wooing some countries in the
West Africa sub-region to allow her establish a
military base to protect the strategic gulf for
The move, according to US, is to protect the area from
alleged external aggressions but with America now
looking in the direction of Africa for her energy needs
given the instability in the Middle-east, many analysts
say the move is to protect her oil interests. .
Defence sources, however, told THISDAY last night in
Abuja that the Federal Government was already
discussing with heads of government of the African
Union and leaders of the sub-regional body, the
Economic Community of West African State, on how to
block any move by US to establish a base in the gulf.
"Nigeria is not taking the issue lightly at all and the
government is not going to allow the US establish any
military base anywhere in the ECOWAS region. The
interest of the US government in the Gulf of Guinea has
reinforced the commitment of the government to
intensify its efforts at providing the needed security
in the sub-region," the source said.
It was learnt that the Federal Government was worried
by the terror alert raised by the US authorities last
week and saw it as a ploy to label Nigeria and
countries in the sub region as unsafe in order to get
the opportunity to create a military base in the
As a first step to checkmate that plan, the FG has
vowed to frustrate the campaign by the US to establish
a base in the gulf.
"The government of this country is not ready for any
blackmail. What they cannot get through the back doors
they want to get through blackmail. We are not going to
succumb to that game," the source said.
THISDAY also learnt that the Defence Headquarters has
concluded plans to visit Pentagon, in Washington, to
further discuss the issue with the US government.
"In a few weeks from now, some top military personnel
will be in the US to present papers on the plans by the
African Union to establish an African Command, which
will be charged with the responsibility of providing
the needed security in the continent.
"We really want to let the US and other countries of
the world know that we are capable of protecting the
resources within our continent. Nigeria is one country
that will continue to move against any plans by the US
government to establish a military base in our sub-
region. We cannot afford to allow them do that,
otherwise we will be finished as military," he said.
Last month, a delegation of the Government of
Equatorial Guinea had visited Nigeria and signed a
memorandum of understanding with the Nigerian Navy in
the area of security, training and equipment.
Currently, US has some presence in the Gulf of Guinea
and its forces have been engaging in frequent patrol of
However, US interest in the gulf has been increasing
amid rising oil exploration in the region.
It was being alleged that West African Navy fleet lacks
the capacity to protect oil platforms in the gulf.
As far back as June last year, US explained that its
presence in the Gulf of Guinea was aimed at protecting
an area regarded as one of the richest sources of
hydrocarbons in the world from international criminals.
"We hear a series of stories for our presence in the
Gulf of Guinea, but I want to say that we are concerned
for Nigeria and we want to help her protect the region
from the hands of maritime criminals," said the
Commander of US Naval Forces in Europe and Commander of
the Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy,
Admiral Henry Ulrich.
"In all parts of the world, the US and any good nation
want a safe coast for those countries who are supplying
energy, and that is why we are often there. So there is
nothing to fear for Nigeria," Ulrich said during a
Seapower Africa Symposium in Abuja in June last year.
Ulrich had also disclosed that the US planned to
increase its naval presence in the Gulf of Guinea in
order to ensure maritime safety in the region.
US Naval official said it was necessary to secure the
area from international criminals, including
terrorists, sea pirates and smugglers.
The gulf's oil and gas deposit is put in the region
of 10 billion barrels. Statistics show that as of 2004,
Africa as a whole produced nearly nine million barrels
of oil per day, with approximately 4.7 million barrels
per day coming from West Africa.
Also, African oil production accounted for
approximately 11 percent of the world's oil supply,
while the continent supplied approximately 18 per cent
of the US net oil imports.
Both Nigeria and Angola were among the top 10 suppliers
of oil to the US.