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Nigeria-US Bi-National Commission and Nigeria Security Interests: How to Make the Commission A Win-win Project (3)

By John Amoda

THE American Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Terence McCulley was interviewed by a Vanguard team led by the Political Editor, Emmanuel Aziken. The two perspectives on what led US Army Field Manual FM 3- 07 describes as stability operations are identified in the lead question of the Vanguard Team and the US Ambassador’s answer of the question.

“How far would the United States and Nigeria go to ensure that the two parties uphold the framework of the Bi-National Commission tying the two countries?”

The Ambassador response was:
“I think it is important to look at the Bi-National commission as a vehicle for our bilateral dialogue and our bilateral engagements with the government of Nigeria. The Bi-National Commission was established in April, 2010, signed by former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Yayale Ahmed and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. The commission set up five working groups to advance our bilateral dialogue with the government of Nigeria. One in governance transparency and integrity, another in energy and investment.

Another in agriculture and food security, Niger Delta and regional security. We met regularly to discuss our views on all these issues, how we can help build our bilateral relationship and advance our common goals. We met in June in Washington. It was a sort of stock taking exercise, two years on to see where we are.

It was the highest level of the Bi-National Commission that we have conducted with the government of Nigeria. Our side was led by our Deputy-Secretary of State Bill Barnes and the Nigerian side was led by the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ashiru. It was attended by numerous governors, senior officials across the Nigerian government as well as civil society and the private sector. So, we looked at each area, how can we work together to build Nigeria’s capacity to address a variety of security challenges that the country is facing?”

The Bi-National Commission is not just a vehicle for structuring exchanges between two friendly governments, it is a bilateral relationship between two governments with unequal capacity to deal with the issues addressed, even when similarity of interests in the outcome of the dialogues is assumed. This point is brought out in the answer the Ambassador gave to the following question: “So you were in Mali? Yes. Is the US administration concerned about the influence of Al-Queda in the Maghreb which has taken over substantial portion of that country?” The Ambassador answered as follows:

“It is a fact that I am no longer Ambassador to Mali, but looking at that from the Nigerian perspective, we have been very impressed as usual with Nigerian role within the ECOWAS in responding to the crisis in Mali. I think we are all concerned about the establishment of an Islamist enclave in northern Mali, particularly with the fall of Gaddafi, you have an influx of weapons from Libya. When I was in Mali, we heard stories in the press of the so called Nigerian Taliban or Boko Haram travelling into northern Mali for training. Yes, obviously, we are concerned that what is going on in northern Mali could have destabilizing effect on the entire region which could provide a haven for those who wish to do obvious harm, to train.

Continues next week

Govt approach to security planning  (2)

The US Army fought and won the battles waged against Saddam Hussein but had left the task of bringing order to chaos in Iraq to the Iraqis. The US and NATO are fighting the battles against the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the Allied Forces are withdrawing without winning the battles.

Can the Afghan Government established by the Allied Forces bring order to chaos in post-NATO Afghanistan? Bringing order to chaos is a victor’s post-conflict peace-building task. The Nigerian Government has yet to realise that this is a victor’s task; a military conflict resolution not a conflict management task. Bringing order to chaos is bringing order to the chaos of anarchy; a replacement of anarchy with order. This is what FM 3- 07 calls stability Operations that requires a whole of government approach.

“A whole of government approach is an approach that integrates the collaborative efforts of the departments and agencies of the United States Government to achieve unity of effort toward a shared goal. A whole of government approach is vital to achieving the balance of resources, capabilities and activities that reinforce progress made by one of the instruments of national power while enabling success among the others.

It relies on interagency coordination among the agencies of the USG, including the Department of Defense, to ensure that the full range of available capabilities are leveraged, synchronized, and applied toward addressing the drivers of conflicts and reinforcing local institutions to facilitate achieving sustainable peace.

Success in this approach depends upon the ability of civilian and military forces to plan jointly and respond quickly and effectively through an integrated, interagency approach to a fundamentally dynamic situation. Accomplishing this requires a willingness and ability to share resources among USG agencies and organizations, while working toward a common goal.



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