By Muhammad Hassan-Tom
This time, however, there is a need to divide the big nations into more controllable units hence the contrived cataclysmic conflicts right down Africa from Cairo to Cape Town. This fact explains the un-Islamic modus operandi of the supposedly Muslim militants who kill and maim indiscriminately including inside churches and mosques in order to provoke or stoke sectarian animosities and maximize intra and interreligious antagonism. It also clarifies how the erstwhile motorbike-riding Boko Haramists suddenly have better intelligence, transport, arms, ammunitions, secure internet/ICT to send all those terrifying messages and even higher morale than the Nigerian Armed Forces. In fact, the French Boko Haram is perfectly distinct from the Yusufiyya members who have always identified themselves as Jama’atu Ahlus lil Sunnah wal Jihad or Group for promoting the Prophet’s tradition and Struggle.
There is also a slight reconfiguration of the pecking order and hunting ground. With the US and its over 500,000 troops permanently stationed abroad too preoccupied with its de facto occupation of the Middle East and the South China Sea while Russia and China struggle to maintain their hegemony over their former communist cohorts in Eastern Europe and Latin America, Africa is the richest available colony albeit with too large a population. Britain and France being the remaining two superpowers are expected to contest for control of the continent.
However, the British are now so empire-weary that they would not even join the European Union and are even allowing the Scots to vote out of the United Kingdom. The islanders who once ruled a territorial domain on which the sun never sets have learnt their lessons about the toil of global hegemony. Unfortunately, they are increasingly becoming the choirboys and lapdogs of the USA in a bid to pick the crumbs from America’s bloody wars for domination of the conflict-soaked but resource-rich Middle East.
This leaves the African stage almost exclusively for France hence its rapid generation and inflammation of conflicts and troop surges across the continent. Tellingly, the French have simultaneously set the most ambitious economic goals on record. On a recent visit to Nigeria, Ms Nicole Bricq, France’s Minister of Foreign Trade attended the signing of a Strategic Agreement between Schneider Electric and Mikano International Limited. Schneider is the leading French company in the field of electricity and renewable energy in Nigeria with a turnover of $100 million per annum. She announced that there are 1800 French firms exporting finished goods to Nigeria and France has set a target to gain a 50 per cent increase. The reason, she ominously stated, was that “If you are not in Nigeria, you are not in Africa.”
Yet, from 1902 when the Compagnie Francaise de l’Afrique Occidentale (CFAO) was established in Nigeria, there are now over 100 French companies “in” the country mainly engaged in exploitation
While the French desperation to corner more of Africa’s abundant resources at the cost of lives and livelihoods is attaining new heights, the callous, racist and selfish trend is not new or unexpected. For instance, a 2008 paper titled Conflict and Cooperation in the Global Arena: A Historical Perspective of Nigeria-France Relations, 1905-1985 by O. Ekanade published by African Journals Online concluded that “The historical landmarks in their diplomatic ties are suggestive of the iron laws that govern international relations. These laws favour the strong and sanction the weak. France’s pre-eminent status in the international arena during this period, 1905-1985 dwarfed Nigeria’s voice and actions and ensured that Nigeria pandered to the whims and caprices of France.”
She therefore posited that “It is no longer sufficient to reckon with the obligations created by business contracts signed. In fact, future business contracts should specifically provide for social development of host communities.”
The Nigerian government and indeed all African countries under the aegis of the African Union (AU) can and must checkmate France’s current insidious influence in the country and on the continent. The first step is Nigeria should demand the immediate cessation of French backing for Boko Haram, MEND and all other insurgents working in or against the country and an undertaking that France will pay compensation for every life and limb lost to their terrorists, restore the tens of thousands of homes and social facilities destroyed and provide scholarships for all school-age out-of-school children in the frontline states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa and across the Niger-Delta.
Secondly, the AU should pass an immediate resolution to send away all the 60,000 so-called French peacekeepers and other military personnel since African troops in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and elsewhere have proved capable of doing a sincere job at a fraction of the cost. This is the only way to eliminate the current high tension in African-French relations in the long run and also engender accommodation and mutual respect between the two parties. Concluded [email protected]