US turns down Buhari’s request to relocate AFRICOM to Nigeria

US turns down Buhari’s request to relocate AFRICOM to Nigeria

The United States has said there is no plan to relocate its Africa Command, AFRICOM from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any other

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The United States has said there is no plan to relocate its Africa Command, AFRICOM from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any other part of Africa despite the worsening state of insecurity in the region.

The US gave the response barely two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari appealed to the US government to consider relocating AFRICOM to Africa to assist Nigeria and other adjoining countries to combat worsening terrorism, banditry and other security crises.

The President made the plea in a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on April 27.

Germany-based Africa Command (AFRICOM) is the US military headquarters that oversees its operations in Africa.

Buhari’s request followed a series of recent military casualties in Nigeria’s decade-long fight against Boko Haram terrorists, fresh expansion of the insurgents’ bases to Niger and Nasarawa States, and heavy waves of abductions and killings by bandits in the North.

The US government on Thursday however ruled out any plan to relocate AFRICOM from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any part of Africa.

According to the United States Department of Defence’ Pentagon, previous studies have shown that the cost of relocating AFRICOM from Germany to Africa is very huge.

In an emailed response to PUNCH, the Pentagon said although it would continue to value Nigeria and other countries in Africa as important partners, the American government would not consider relocating AFRICOM to any part of the African continent at the moment or in the nearest future.

Meanwhile, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has listed reasons why it is “unlikely or near impossible” for the US government to relocate AFRICOM from Stuttgart in Germany to Nigeria or any part of the continent.

He said aside from the fact that the cost of doing so is very huge, the Nigerian military had proved to be a difficult partner for the US over the years.

 

The ex-envoy, however, said Buhari’s request marked a reversal of Nigeria’s official opposition to AFRICOM plans to move it to the continent 14 years ago.

He recalled that when President George W Bush established AFRICOM in 2007, a military-civilian hybrid command in support of Africa, African officials’ reaction was largely hostile, seeing the effort as “neo-colonialist.”

Campbell said, “The Nigerian government took the lead in persuading or strong-arming other African states against accepting the AFRICOM headquarters, which was thereupon established at Stuttgart, Germany, already the headquarters of the European Command.

In addition to opposing AFRICOM in the first place, the Nigerian military authorities have been largely uncooperative with the US military. Hence, the US military involvement in Nigeria, beyond limited training operations, is minimal, and the country does not host any American defence installations.

“Successive Nigerian governments have wanted to purchase sophisticated American military equipment but have rejected US oversight. In fact, Nigerian purchases of US military materials have been rare, despite their high-profile, ultimately successful purchase of 12 A-29 Super Tucanos – sophisticated aircraft.”