Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nigeria: FG Rejects U.S. High Command

FEDERAL Government yesterday formerly rejected the hosting of the United States (US) sponsored African High Command (AFRICOM), opting instead for an African Standby Force for the Gullf of Guinea.

Government made the position known at the end of the National Council of State (NCS) meeting which was attended by former heads of state, governors and the leadership of the National Assembly.

Several Nigerian leaders, it would be recalled, have criticized the military initiative, saying it would amount to the expansion of US influence on the continent.

Speaking after the meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Kwara State governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki alongside his Kano and Bayelsa counterparts, Ibrahim Shekarau and Timipre Sylva said Nigeria would not allow the US-base in the country or elsewhere in the sub-region.

"We also addressed the issue of US-AFRICOM. The council of state was briefed on AFRICOM and some of the concerns and some of the views of the country were made known to us as members of the Council of State. The president restated the position of Nigeria not permitting US-base in our country or sub region but to work towards establishment of African Standby Force," Gov. Saraki said.

The US has said it aims to better protect America's strategic interest in Africa and assist African countries with military training and conflict prevention.

But a number of African countries-including Libya and South Africa-have expressed reservations about a move that could signal an expansion of US influence on the continent and may focus primarily on protecting oil interests.

Africom currently operates out of existing US bases on the continent with a headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.

Wart-wrecked Liberia, settled by freed American slaves in the 1800s, is the only African nation that has publicly offered to host a headquarters.

Nigeria, an OPEC member and one of the top suppliers of oil to America, has seen militant unrest in its southern petroleum region cut production by about one quarter in recent years.

The council also implored President Yar'Adua to meet South East governors over the activities of the activities of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).

The council said the president should meet the governors to discuss the activities of the movement locally and internationally.

He said the council also discussed feeding in prisons, especially as to whether states could take part in feeding the inmates.
he council was informed that the federal government spent about N5 billion annually to feed the prisoners.

Gov. Saraki said the council took cognizance of the constitutional nature of the problem, adding that it could even affect the revenue allocation formula.

The governor said the council similarly mandated governors to demarcate grazing fields from farmlands to avoid clashes between farmers and cattle rearers.

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