Monday, September 16, 2013
AfriCom and the kleptocratic governments of western Alkebulan (Africa)
"War on ‘terror’: Africom, the kleptocratic state and under-class militancy in West Africa-Nigeria"
by Caroline Ifeka, published in the CONCERNED AFRICA SCHOLARS BULLETIN N°85 - SPRING 2010 [concernedafricascholars.org/docs/bulletin85ifeka.pdf]:
Caroline Ifeka is an Honorary Research Fellow, Dept of Anthropology, University College London. She has lived in Nigeria and Cameroon since 1990, worked for NGOs, written many development reports for donors as well as community organisations, carried out and published numerous articles about her anthropological field research in Nigeria and Cameroon on ritual in identity and social construction, resource conflict, youth violence and the kleptocratic State.
Following the article are the Acknowledgements, Acronyms, Notes, and References.
"The aim is no longer to transform the world, but (as the heresies did in their day) to radicalise the world by sacrifice. Whereas the system aims to realize it by force." — Baudrillard (2002: 10)
The US, EU and Chinese compete to control strategic resources (oil, bauxite, uranium, subterranean water) in the Sahara, Sahel and proximate semi-arid zones as northern Nigeria, home of the young suicide bomber who failed to bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 252 over Detroit in December 2009 (Note 1). US-NATO commands in Stuttgart and Brussels prosecute the ‘War on Terror’ to securitize ‘dangerous’ West African Muslim states (and quietly manoeuvre leases to exploit resources vital to US and EU capital accumulation).
The principal cause of growing youth militancy mobilising around ethnicity and Islamic reformism is the ruling class’s failure to ‘share’ the ‘dividends of democracy’ — e.g. rental incomes from ‘traditional’ community owned strategic resources as oil, gas, gold, bauxite, uranium, water — according to subaltern clients’ expectations. So the under-class experiences as ‘bad’ the ‘democratic’ West African State’s governance. Failed expectations are reflected in some radical elements’ readiness to sacrifice their lives in fighting the war machine — sheer force — of the repressive State [Note 2]. ‘Bad’ governance is the consequence not of corruption but of clientelism, that is informal political relations greased by money between patrons/‘big men’ and clients/‘small boys’; this largely illegal system of power and patronage generates venality and violence, but not as yet real terrorism (Obi 2006) [Note 3]. Ironically, Islamic militants (northern Nigeria) and ethnic sovereignty movements (southern Nigeria, northern Niger, northern Mali) drawing on subaltern discontent share with international donors the same objective of securing ‘good’ (i.e. just, efficient, clean) governance, though under-class devout Muslim youth define good governance not in donors’ secular terms but in regard to Quranic precepts. The US military command for Africa (AFRICOM) and international aid practitioners target corruption as the cause of ‘dangerous’ under-development; they strengthen security agencies and hand out anti-corruption funds that the ruling classes mis-appropriate. The militarization of ‘development’ will succeed only, as elsewhere (e.g., Afghanistan), in nourishing the growth of real terrorism among, for example, Nigeria’s estimated 40-60 million largely unemployed youth and ethnic minorities.
A more peaceful strategy than US reliance on resource control by force is ECOWAS community capacity building. Subaltern classes could be empowered to strengthen management of traditional resources and land in strategic locations developed as hubs of sustainable economic growth and justice reform at the magistrate, native court, and Shari‘a court levels [Note 4]. Improvements in the local economy, governance and justice delivery as part of planned institution building for socially inclusive growth with equity could diminish subaltern discontent and encourage currently disempowered majorities to challenge peacefully the kleptocratic State’s reliance on force to ‘resolve’ political conflicts with and among citizens.
West Africa was of secondary military-economic interest to the US in the mid-1990s, compared to North Africa (Libya) and the Horn of Africa, but continuing difficulties in Middle Eastern oil supplies encouraged the US to seek petroleum providers elsewhere — the Caucasus, the south Atlantic ocean, and West Africa’s oil rich Gulf of Guinea states, especially Nigeria. Twenty years ago China was just beginning to prospect in West Africa for business and construction contracts, and so was not viewed then as a serious contender for access to and control over important African resources as oil and gas (Obi 2008) [Note 5]. Today, nearly 750,000 Chinese are resident in Africa; 300 million emigrants to Africa may be planned (Michel and Beuret 2009: 4-5). The terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001, opened US eyes to the strategic advantage of relatively ‘safer’ West and West-Central African, especially Nigerian, sources of high quality crude oil rapidly transportable across the Atlantic ocean to refineries in populous cities on the North American eastern industrial seaboard. This major shift in US policy regarding West Africa took place at a time when arms sales by the world’s top arms exporters — the US, Russia and Germany — rose by a further 22% between 2005-2010 (Norton-Taylor 2010).
Since 2001 renewed religious riots, outbursts of alleged ‘terrorism’ in the Sahara-Sahel and northern Nigeria, and militant threats to African oil exports have spurred the US to establish US African Command (AFRICOM) in collaboration with NATO’s Special Forces (Keenan 2009). From 2006 onwards the US has carried out military and naval exercises in selected African states, including the Cape Verde archipelago proximate to oil blocks off Senegal, targeted for leasing to US Multi-national Corporations (MNCs). AFRICOM was fully operational from 2008 (AFRICOM 2009; AFROL 2009a).
The Pentagon appears to be intensifying plans in 2010, partnering with selected West African states (e.g. Senegal, Cape Verde, Ghana, Cameroon, Sao Tome and Principe, Mali, Niger), for further military exercises, training programmes and sales at discounted prices of modern fighter aircraft, automatic machine guns, and possible robotic aerial vehicles (US AFRICOM 2010). AFRICOM has in view certain locations in northern (e.g. Kano, Bornu, Bauchi, Yobe, Jos, Kaduna states), and southern Nigeria, principally the Niger Delta core oil producing states (Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta) as well as Lagos, the country’s sprawling commercial capital — estimated population 15 million, headquarters of MNC oil corporations, banks, and major Nigerian companies as Dangote Ltd and new light industries in partnership with Chinese companies.
Militarisation is taking place in selected West African states whose pre-industrial economies are still geared, as in the colonial era, to export raw materials with little value added to the advantage of Western and Asian industrialised economies. For example, partial modernisation in Nigeria reflects the country’s status as a rentier state relying on oil revenues (Karl 1997). Its late emergence in the 1970s as West Africa’s potential industrial power was aborted by a military regime in the mid-1980s, following pressure by international financial and trade institutions (e.g. International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organisation) that West African states remove tariff barriers on consumer and light industrial goods. An emerging Nigerian working class largely lost its economic base in factories producing clothing, shoes, matches, iron and steel products, buses, lorries, etc, that fostered class identity and action.
Abortive economic modernisation in Nigeria, and Francophone Sahelian states as Niger and Mali, seems to have sustained perceived ‘traditional’, i.e. customary community values and identities. Until recently, when mobilising in political protest subalterns did so, by and large, through religious or ethnic, rather than class, identities (c.f. Laclau 1977: 155 ff). Many dissident youth movements based on ‘customary’ ethnic and/or religious identities have a long tradition in rural communities; they seek to reclaim land, water, resource management, rental incomes, and to purify ‘governance’ in favour of just land reform and resource distribution (Parker & Rathbone 2007: 91ff) Yet militant groups may also be referred to locally by globalising tags that suggest community familiarity with struggles elsewhere; for example, northern Nigerian communities nickname Islamic fundamentalists ‘Taliban’ or ‘al-Qaeda’, indicating (hearsay) knowledge of the US ‘War on Terrorism’. Equally, there are stories of politically alienated educated young males training in al-Qaeda camps, though the December 25, 2009, Nigerian (‘Detroit’) suicide bomber’s field training appears inadequate [Note 6].
When resisting repression youth coalesce around kin-based ethno-religious and clan identities that cohere around two dominant poles — ‘us, small people’ (clients) and ‘them, big men’ (patrons/godfathers) (Ifeka 2001b, 2006; Smith 2007). The ‘people’/’power’ opposition draws on a repertoire of customary representations and practices (e.g. initiation rituals, war gods, charms against bullets, juju ‘medicine’, language, religious texts, shrines) that authorise subaltern militant organisation. More recently, since the return to democracy in 1999, the growth of poverty and shared meanings of suffering, and on-going political violence between rulers and ruled, is contributing to a revival of representations of class identity and consciousness that elderly working men, peasant farmers, traders, teachers and petty clerks knew in the 1970s [Note 7].
Adopting a political economy approach, I disaggregate that over-used neo-liberal concept of ‘the people’ into social classes; that is, groups differentiated by their unequal relationship to the means of production (capital) and power as owners/workers, but who yet express their socio-political worlds through customary institutions of patron-clientship. For example, subalterns and rulers construct the social formation in terms of unequal relations of power expressed in terms of relations between client (subordinate) and patron (dominant)– almost everyone is a patron and/or a client to someone else. Clientelistic relations cross cut but do not erase economic class divisions: for instance, on one level ministers and senior civil servants in command of the state and its revenues are the top patrons or men of mega-power, those lacking such access are their clients, but on another level middle ranking civil servants, company administrators, junior army officers are themselves patrons to many lesser others. Thus, power relations between patrons and clients defined in terms of upward and downwards informal and illicit flows of money/services constitute the country’s ‘real’ political economy (Joseph 1987; Ifeka 2001a, 2006, 2009; c.f. Laclau 1977). Fundamentalist religious movements or ethnic nationalists may draw on a mix of ‘traditional’ cultural symbols as well as those of economic inequality (‘big’/‘small’ men) to express under-class frustration and a strong desire, backed by force, for cleaner, more just governance with improved ‘dividends of democracy’ for the masses.
The ‘Terrorist’ Threat -
‘Terrorism’ is a terrifying condition of existence, one that normalises violence and so destroys the every day trust that lives are safe and justice prevails. It is often linked to al-Qaeda or the Taliban. We need to ask if ‘terrorism’ in West Africa is a threat or reality.
Just before the terrorist bombings of the Pentagon and World Trade Centre, in 1999-2000 twelve northern Nigerian state governors (Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kano, Yobe, Jigawa, Bauchi, Katsina, Niger, Bauchi, Adamawa and Gombe) declared their commitment to the full-blown establishment of Shari‘a law in their states. (There are thirty-six states in Nigeria.) Led by Zamfara state’s governor, they proclaimed the urgent need to sanitise state legal systems that did little or nothing to implement Quranic justice and governance; in two or three years, however, kleptocratic governance ensured that Shari‘a, too, became comatose so Islamist religious sect leaders began preaching again for governance reform and justice according to the Quran.
After twelve northern Nigerian states implemented Shari’a law, different views at home and in US-European metropoles began to be expressed regarding the likelihood of Nigerian ‘terrorism’ in addition to on-going militancy in the oil producing Niger Delta threatening Nigeria’s stability as a core US crude oil supplier. Nigeria holds the largest concentration of US capital in Africa, mainly the result of investment in the past thirty years by the world’s largest multi-national oil corporations, ExxonMobil and TexacoChevron. Together with the UK and Holland’s Royal Dutch Shell and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco are aiming to supply 25% of US oil needs, though this goal requires a sustainable resolution of the Niger Delta crisis (Peel 2009; Amanze-Nwachuku 2010) Militancy and perceived terrorism threaten US-EU strategic interests in sustaining MNC capital accumulation.
Opinions about ‘terrorism’ in Nigeria have changed. First, some writers in 2000-04 saw no evidence of al-Qaeda linked terrorist cell penetration of northern Nigeria, nor that terrorist and criminal syndicates trafficking guns, drugs, and people had linked up. Yet in 2003-04 informants in Cross River state, which abuts Rivers (a core Niger Delta state), hinted that some Niger Delta militant youth were in contact with groups elsewhere in Nigeria and beyond; by 2006, I believed that a few ‘restive’ youth in the Delta and the country’s northern regions were exchanging information. Using information technology (IT), militants were moving closer together; some were becoming more frustrated and angry at the ‘selfishness’ of plutocratic politicians, corporate chief executives, military, police and intelligence services in not distributing down the clientelist chain financial profits in stolen state funds and trafficked illegal goods; they were beginning to move beyond ethnic nationalism/religious fundamentalism into a shared sense of under-class alienation from lands, livelihoods and largesse (Ifeka 2006). Equally, information was seeping into northern Nigerian contexts about the plight of the Tuaregs, repressed by the Nigerien state — and probably covertly by the Algerian secret services (Keenan 2006, 2009) — for their aggressive posture in regard to their ethnicity’s claims to customary ownership of land, oasis, subterranean water and uranium resources.
Second, a few authors wrote about the perceived ‘terrorist’ threat posed by forms of Islamisation, including Shar’ia law, to West African security and the US’s need for sustainable energy flows from Nigeria (Volman 2003). Certain commentators began to understand that US policy could be more nuanced, less likely to cause unwanted ‘terrorist’ strikes in North America’s homeland, if the Pentagon took on board that Nigeria’s large Muslim population — in 1998 estimated numerically to be the fifth largest in the world at c. 78 million relative to Indonesia’s c. 196 million (Islamic Web 1998; ABC 2009)— does not exist in a social, cultural or economic and historical vacuum. Rather, Muslims, about 57% of c. 140 million Nigerians in the 2001 Population Census, largely Sunni congregations and brotherhoods leavened by a sprinkling of Sufi adherents, boast historic connections via the ancient trans-Saharan trade routes with the Middle East and North African Maghrib (Parker and Rathbone 2007: 7-8ff). Such historic connections and shared understandings suggest both the possibility of US/Maghribi diplomacy exercised for peace, as well as some radical Ummah states’ support for Islamist fundamentalist cells (dubbed ‘terrorist’ by AFRICOM-NATO) in Nigeria.
Third, other observers inclined to the view that the Federal Republic of Nigeria could split. In 2004 a defence analyst identified Nigeria as a ‘potent mix of communal tensions, radical Islamisation, and anti-Americanism’, in their view fertile grounds for militancy that threatens to tear Nigeria apart (Morrison 2004: 75-8). Late in 2009, another defence analyst advising the US Pentagon, addressed a forum sponsored by the Royal African Society at a University of London institution, and stated that Nigeria could fragment. The Niger Delta ‘crisis’ and the emergent Ijaw ethnic-nation state’s armed struggles against the Nigerian State for at least a 50% share, progressing over time to 100% resource control of their ethnic-nation’s oil and gas, may have been uppermost in his mind.
In my experience, having lived and worked in Nigeria for several decades, I now doubt that ethnic-nationalist or fundamentalist Islamist politicians of the twenty first century will emulate the Igbos in 1966, or Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra in the 1990s, and struggle for secession though this may have been a possibility in the early 2000s (Ifeka 2000a,b, 2001b, 2004). The Nigerian government’s 2009 amnesty with some Nigerian Delta militant organisations was preceded by much carpet crossing of Niger Delta activists; money, sometimes called ‘gratification’ in Nigeria’s clientelistic system, is all; it trumps party and militant loyalty. I also experienced personally in 2008-9 the depth of Nigeria’s ruling political and business class’s commitment to obtaining by any means the dollars with which to maintain vertical chains of ‘chopping’ and ‘sharing’ funds between patrons and clients. Shares must keep well ahead of inflation, so nowadays percentages deducted for ‘commissions’ can top 60% of a contract’s gross value.
‘Money shouts’: Nigerian history shows that at times of political conflict over resource allocation local, state and federal elites can ‘cry wolf’ and declare secession, but since the end of the Biafran civil war (1967-1970), as long as oil and gas flow, and criminal trafficking flourishes, senior level godfathers of whatever state and ethno-religious provenance will mostly shy away from overtly secessionist or ‘terrorist’ struggles. Currently, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is refreshing its call of the early to mid-2000s for total control of all oil and gas revenues, and airing the possibility of secession (Remy 2010). But such actions could weaken, or destroy, personal and sub-ethnic highly lucrative networks in the all-important ‘shadow’ Nigerian political economy of ‘chopping’ on the State’s oil wealth and capitalising on trafficking in illegal goods. Influential clients and patrons of potent families, clans and sub-ethnic groups convert funds of whatever legal/illegal provenance into the financial means with which offspring, younger relatives and trusted clansmen/women sustain emerging dynasties influential in ruling class party politics of accumulation and patrimonial distribution. Flows are ‘protected’ by secretive godfathers, and at times godmothers, closely connected to the State’s security agencies, politicians and criminal networks who rely on force — gunning down protesters and assassinating turncoats – to remove opposition.
Some financial benefits of reducing any perceived ‘terrorist’ threat, and staying on board the ‘chopping’ ship of the Nigerian State, can be quickly sketched. In 2006 the Bayelsa state government (a core oil producing state with an estimated population of over two million Ijaws and some smaller ethnic groups) received its monthly funds from the Federal oil derivation account reportedly to the annual value of $1.954 billion (Economic Confidential 2009). The-then state governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, is known to have racked up about $20 million in stolen assets deposited or invested in properties overseas; though this sum was probably just a tidbit, it was about 10,000 times the daily earnings of governor Alamsaieghya’s humble fisher folk constituents (Peel 2009: 109). To put Bayelsa state’s wealth in context: in 2009 the Northern Governors forum calculated that the three core Niger Delta oil producing states’ annual revenues could fund all nineteen northern states at their current rates of expenditure for one year. At the same time, using financial figures available on the Internet, I have calculated that if expended transparently, according to the national budget approved by the National House of Assembly and President, and not siphoned off, Nigeria’s 2008 annual budget could have funded in that year the approved budgets of over thirty sub-Saharan African states, excluding South Africa, Senegal and some others.
Regarded in terms of its huge oil and gas wealth — generating in 2008 the (under) reported sum of circa $30 billion (Peel 2009) — its rapidly expanding banking systems, populous home market and dominance (with Columbia) of global narco-trafficking, Nigeria is a-typical of other ECOWAS states. But in terms of its deep rooted patrimonial system, kleptocratic governance and shadow (criminal) political economy in narcotics, guns, minerals, fossil fuel resources and people trafficking is typical. Nigeria is an exemplar of the kleptocratic (not terrorist) State, first described by Stanislaw Andreski (1968), a pioneering sociologist of corruption and venal power’s impoverishing impact on under-classes: kleptocracy is a system of state power based on rule by theft and bribery — but I would add violence is equally necessary, because players operate in unregulated shadow trading systems relying on discipline through a mix of trust and force. Penetrated as it is by clientelist and criminal networks, committed to accumulation by any means, the Nigerian State is as yet some way from confronting real terrorism. Yet AFRICOM’s imposed securitization of ‘development’ in partnership with the nation-State is generating renewed militancy against the nation-State’s police, who retaliate with killing force (Abrahamsen 2005).
‘Dual’ political and economic institutions — the formal/legitimate and informal/illegitimate — surely pose a complex challenge to the militaristic mentality that dominates AFRICOM-NATO. Militarism, when prodded, may consider sustainable economic development as a strategic pathway to resolve issues of perceived West African ‘terrorism’ linked to ‘bad’ governance, corruption and violence. But, being of the military, these senior officers are trained to think primarily in terms of top down (undemocratic) solutions of force to what are actually dynamic and deep-rooted societal problems. These indubitably require bottom-up democratic solutions that are sensitive to differences in social institutions of power, production and religion in diverse ethnic-nations and yet capable of counteracting widening poverty, the bureaucratic nation-State’s reliance on total force, and under-class violent resistance (Ifeka 2005,2009; Duffield 2001, 2007).
Military Activities [Note 8]-
By 2009 the US had evolved its global command system into five regions (table 1):
AFRICOM was the fifth and latest of the Pentagon’s regional commands. The whole world is now more or less integrated, at least on paper, in one consolidated global military network (Rozoff 2010b). AFRICOM’s area of responsibility includes 53 African nations. Indeed, we should situate America and NATO’s military drive into Africa, all of Africa, within the context of US and NATO expansion and strengthening of, on paper, an increasingly integrated global command system with which to eradicate ‘terrorism’ and protect strategic resource flows to US-EU metropoles.
AFRICOM was authorised in 2007; the command was launched as an independent entity on 1 October 2008, with a forward base at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, in the highly strategic Horn of Africa, facing a volatile, fractured and ‘terrorist’ infiltrated Yemen. Two thousand AFRICOM troops are stationed at Camp Lemonier; the French army and navy also have a base with troops stationed in Djibouti (France 2008).
AFRICOM’s web site suggests that EUCOM/AFRICOM, Stuttgart, has developed a dynamic plan for improving relations all round between the US and selected African states, including those in strategic North and West Africa (Wikipedia 2010c). General William (‘Kip’) Ward, AFRICOM’s genial Commander, engages monthly on a hectic round of public relations and relationship building with friendly states via military-to-military events, training and conferences, strategic site visitations, supplies of modern military equipment, fostering partnering agreements between US-based National Guard units and selected African nations for military-military familiarisation and relationship building; for example, Nigeria is paired with the California state Home Guard, Tunisia with Wyoming’s. In 2009 US command donated to Mali modern military vehicles and communications equipment for improved intelligence and surveillance, especially of northern Mali, home to nomadic Tuareg (Rozoff 2010a).
Surveillance drones to patrol the vast empty spaces of the northern Sahara from ‘lily pad’ military platforms in Tamanrasset (southern Algeria) are also planned for southern Libya. A UK company is working, possibly in partnership with Italy, towards selling Libya up to fifty Evo Falco UAVs for surveillance work in restricted military airspace in the Sahara-Sahel (Coppinger 2010). Unarmed drones are launched from the US base in the Seychelles to monitor piracy, smuggling, military and ’terrorist’ activities in the Gulf of Suez and Indian Ocean. The latter on-going exercises link up with AFRICOM’s intelligence and monitoring operations by its 2,000 personnel based at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti (ibid).
Since 2006 AFRICOM has used its African Partnership Station (APS), the USS Fort McHenry, and carried out military and naval exercises in waters off Cape Verde, Guinea Conakry, Sao Tome and Principe, and Gabon (Wikipedia 2010c); it has simulated war games on Nigeria (Volman 2009; Samuelson 2009; Crossed Crocodiles 2008). AFRICOM’s air force planned thirty such events in 2009 and has 120 billed for 2010 (AFRICOM 2010). Seventeen event countries, some receiving development aid, include West Africa’s Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Cape Verde (Powell 2009; Afrol 2009b).
Agreements with selected states providing ‘lily pads’ — forward operational locations or platforms for rapid response force detachments — are being expanded and consolidated; agreements are in the pipe line for Tamanrasset in the far south of Algeria, Bamako airport (Mali), Dakar airport (Senegal), also with Cape Verde regarding rapid response force use of its military base at Sao Vicente, off Senegal, and with Sao Tome and Principe (Gulf of Biafra). The latter states are upcoming US partners with oil fields to be exploited.
Szeftel (2000 : 407ff) argued that Africa’s culturally rooted patrimonial political systems based on clientelism and patronage with (illegally) appropriated state funds obviously do not depend on development in the accepted sense. Rather, are these kleptocratic West African states threatened by it. Further repression by force may ensue. Therefore, development aid doled out on the current bilateral or multilateral basis, state to state, may be a waste of funds, siphoned as they usually are into the pockets of state officials, and if working together as is sometimes the case, laundered through the bank accounts of complicit NGOs, religious organisations, and business companies.
The principal cause of perceived ‘terrorist’ threats in West Africa to Western (oil, gas, mineral) interests is often said to be armed robbers, kidnappers, militants, religious fanatics and fundamentalists — and other alleged ‘saboteurs’ of the nation-State’s sovereignty and much vaunted stability including illegal traffickers, especially but not exclusively narcotic dealers with Nigerian connections.
However, a political economy analysis pinpoints, rather, the kleptocratic state’s internal de facto governance by clientelist relations within and between juridical, political and administrative institutions and security apparatuses. These relations are oiled by corruptly obtained money and evaluated in strictly financial terms — cui bono? Hardly surprising, all donors are desired including the Chinese, who in 2006 awarded wealthy Nigeria a $50 billion credit line that is still unused (Aderinokun 2008).
In sum, we can say that the informal ‘legal’ economy is indeed important in sustaining a hundred million and more families of waged and salaried workers, peasant-farmers, graziers, off-farm and pasture enterprises as cattle transporting, veterinary drugs buying and selling, hawkers of petty items, and small business folk including women street sellers of ‘hot food’ and other informal services. The illegal sector includes lucrative businesses in sex slave trafficking, based in Edo state as well as narcotics and gun trafficking orchestrated by Nigerian networks through West African remoter locations. This sector sustains clientelism linking dominant and dominated — ‘dirty’ money being recycled through multiple accounts until it emerges as ‘clean’ credit — though it also contributes to subaltern economic survival, as long as under-class madams in, for example, sex trafficking ventures survive by remaining ‘obedient’ and ‘trustworthy’ to men in command of their network (Agbroko 2009) [Note 9].
Clientelism and its vertical relations articulate power processes between patrons and clients through the distribution of ‘dash’/‘chop money’ between those at the heart of the kleptocratic State — the ruling political party, security forces, corporations and oligarchs of Nigeria’s venal ‘real’ political economy — and impoverished kinsfolk, clansmen and ethnic women of the under-classes who constitute ‘big’ men’s power base. Embedded patrimonial socio-political systems are cause and effect of a largely rural population growing at 3% per annum, relying for survival on networks of kin, clansfolk and ethnicity, and starved by patrons of the benefits of Nigeria’s huge oil revenues. Clientelism is therefore a major driver of the kleptocratic State’s corruption, violence and cruel use of killing force.
Access to and use of physical power strengthens patrons and senior clients’ hold on illegal pathways of accumulation and politically embedded State cultures of impunity; the latter protect government politicians, civil servants, police and army officers from serious investigation before the law and ensure brutal treatment by security agents of militants, vigilantes, and others (Bayart et al 1999; Chabal and Daloz 1999: ix-15) Thus, clientelism promotes violence at all levels of the ‘shadow’ or ‘real’ as well as formal (legal) political economies.
Yet the same all-powerful men also use ostensibly more peaceful methods to consolidate their formal command of the apparatuses of state including the all-powerful ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Oligarchs of leading dynasties seek to reproduce familial wealth and power in the predominantly Christian south, and largely Muslim north, by encouraging young kinsmen to become vigilantes to ‘police’ or protect their community and its natural resources from unwanted strangers. As well, they aim to marry off daughters to the sons or nephews of other notables of politics as state governors, senior administrators or banking CEOs. By and large daughters obey, but as a recent instance demonstrates there are limits to a client’s obedience, and when the client feels sufficiently secure with his patron he may decline to serve. In early 2009 the sole wife of a powerful northern state governor (a client of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) refused to agree to the First Lady of Nigeria’s demand that her husband marry the President’s daughter; the state governor’s first lady is still his only wife.
Vigilantism: Militancy -
Vigilantism, taking the law into the group’s own hands with the ostensible objective of protecting one’s neighbourhood/quarter or town, is an enduring aspect of settlement society and history among different ethnic groups in Nigeria (Conerly 2007, Pratten 2007) — and elsewhere [Note 10]. Youth organisations span the spectrum from purely recreational to credit associations and town unions to vigilante armed units with ordering functions and militant organisations whose mission is to achieve political goals by attacking the bourgeois State. Some are also active in the ‘shadow’ economy of trafficking illegal goods for pecuniary gain and prestige acquisition. Vigilantes’ primary role, however, is supposedly defensive — protection and ordering — rather than offensive as are militants’.
However, vigilante youth policing or ordering activities lack strong boundaries (Buur 2003): an energetic youth can be a vigilante in the conventional sense (above) but also participate in or initiate traditional style religious fundamentalism, become a trade union (class) strike leader or leave the vigilante zone and enter an ethnic-nationalist organisation in the Niger Delta or join a fundamentalist politico-religious sect. The latter may be modelled on a leader’s hearsay knowledge obtained from travellers or the Internet of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other radical Muslim organisations in the global Ummah. Equally, men employed as police don their Nigeria Police uniform by day, but at night may join a vigilante or ethnic/religious militant organisation or even a band of armed robbers and engage in ‘operations’ to obtain cash (Ifeka 2006, Walker 2009).
Youth organisations protecting the community may receive remuneration, usually a regular monthly fee and/or payments in kind that can flow into other less licit forms of money-getting activities; as noted, the latter merges into community policing. Increasing impoverishment is encouraging more security agents to participate in rackets in which armed robbers, fraudsters and other local ‘godfathers’, in partnership with client middle-ranking or junior police officers, arrange to obtain entry to the Nigeria Police and start work by day as police constables. Night time operations (e.g. robberies, attacks on rival mobs) then go much more smoothly, less likelihood of road blocks and interrogations at gun point.
Vigilante/militant culture and symbols of power (e.g. spiritual force as traditional juju, gods and powerful ‘medicines’, status as ulamma or pastor) are not only created by young men, and sometimes in mixed organisations by young women, drawing on known traditional cultural values of righteous authority and violence (e.g. secret societies with violent initiation rituals). Militant values are also influenced by community values and ‘traditional’ political practices of consensual decision making, respect for the elders, care for the young and vulnerable; also group culture is shaped by relations with, and criticism of, the dominant culture of mainstream society and the State, as experienced by youth when dealing with the State’s agencies and also as perceived through urban television.
Socially immature (e.g. unmarried, or married without financial means or capital assets) men often feel that godfathers are not living up to their (clients’) expectations: lack of ‘dash’ means they lack the cash to fuel a ‘high’ or ‘rich’ level of consumption (drinks, women, hotels, clothes, mobile phones); nor have they been given sufficient money that compensates for labour, at times dangerous, on behalf of godfathers’ shadowy accumulation. Unfulfilled expectations, and, since the return to democracy in 1999, politicians’ ready recourse to violence during elections to secure a majority vote certainly precipitates further growth of youth-led vigilante and other more militant organisations. The latter match with counter-force the physical power of a ‘selfish’ dominant class as well as launch ‘war’ on rival gangs or sects.
The Nigerian economy’s class divisions, both in the legitimate and shadow economies, are formative forces, though partly obscured by the pervasive familiarity of kin-based identities of ethnicity and religion that provides spiritual protection (charms) as well as potent prayers at shrines, in churches/mosques against witchcraft, magic, enemy bullets and poisoning. Free trade and market reforms in the context of an uncaring (‘selfish’) state have benefitted the few and disadvantaged the many (Bracking 2009): these trends have sharpened under-class perceptions. Youth with a post-secondary education, but often without regular paid employment, may come from families with a larger survival margin in the form of savings or capital assets (land, water, property rentals), such families are accorded more prestige and higher status positions in village/town governance. Class divisions in the wider society are reflected in the extent to which, everything else being more or less equal, competent and reasonably popular literate and educated youth are considered leaders rather than their illiterate or semi-literate counterparts. Though partly obscured, persons’ positions in relation to the means of production (e.g. land/farming/petty business/transport/trading) in the formal and ‘shadow’ (illegal) economies, as well as patrons ‘generosity’ to clients in patrimonial networks of accumulation, reflect deepening economic inequalities and class awareness shaping growing subaltern resistance through vigilantism/militancy in the remotest rural areas, villages and cities of Nigeria — and elsewhere in West Africa [Note 11].
Thus, contemporary vigilantism and fundamentalist ethnic/religious organisations constitute a generalised youth sub-culture that represents a level of (indigenous) thought and understanding of their position as largely unwanted surplus labour — young urban hawkers, waged labourers, office workers, farmers, graziers, peasants and petit bourgeois small business folk — sandwiched between and mediating elders’ (more traditional) knowledge and that of the modern State’s dominant political class values of pecuniary accumulation by any means, fair or foul (c.f. Stuart Hall 1975: 15; Ifeka 2001a, 2006).
Patron-client networks protect police, soldiers and junior army officers most times from prosecution by injured citizens and unemployed under-class youth. But if young men and older male children picked up by the police in a raid against armed robbers, for example, lack a patron, they may well be executed without trial. Five young people including a boy of thirteen years were shot dead on sight by the police during one such ‘raid’ in 2009 in an Enugu suburb (Walker 2009). Nigerian police often execute without trial young men accused of armed robbery, theft, attacks on officers when being ‘arrested’. In the 1990s-mid-2000s, I observed how so-called ‘armed robbers’ may be tied to telegraph poles painted white over two metres high and shot dead in the early hours of the morning; others may be killed at night by fellow inmates of small cells packed tight with up to forty men. Few prisoners or their families dare to complain in public or to the police themselves. Distressed, fearful relatives ask themselves: what is the point of such complaints?
Citizens are reared in a culture that tends to condone ‘righteous’ physical violence in the family, the neighbourhood and markets against thieves, and are accustomed to enduring forceful treatment at the hands of the police, armed robbers and vigilantes. People are socialised into a culture of political violence, expecting when travelling to be forcefully defrauded of their petty cash by the State’s security agencies, petty government officials and customs officers patrolling the pot-holed highways and roads (Smith 2007). They experience daily the economic violence inflicted on their small earnings, salaries and wages by a collapsing economy and anticipated lack of compensating rewards were they to engage in more lucrative illegal activities; they feel almost daily the social violence miseries of young children chronically ill and dying, mothers and wives dying in childbirth.
Frustrated beyond endurance at the latest problem in their neighbourhood, on the roads, or at public bus stations, beset with economic anxieties, under-class men (and women) lash out against one another and, if in the vicinity, the much hated and despised police. Fighting in public places as the streets, water taps, and markets is very common.
Given such conditions of existence, it would be surprising if, after years of endurance, Nigerian youth did not seek to redress the political and economic balance between subalterns and a mega-rich political elite by grafting militancy onto their vigilante, armed robbery and other illegal trafficking activities. They have to survive — somehow — by acquiring the power with which to challenge security agents, especially the police, identified as tools of the dominant political-military-business class; in so doing, they reject their subordinate under-class status, the legitimacy of the State’s formal policing system and kleptocracy; they demand clean, just governance that would deliver to the masses equitable rental incomes (i.e. from oil/uranium) and implements customary or religious (Islamic/Christian) core precepts.
In the past thirty years many Ijaw (Niger Delta) and Tuareg (Niger, Mali) youth and adult men in some communities have moved from defensive style peaceful protest and vigilante policing to the offensive. They now carry out planned, armed attacks against symbols of the repressive nation-state allied to multi-national oil, water and mining corporations to achieve a clearly articulated political goal represented in traditional, popular symbols of resource ownership, purer governance and employment for ‘our people’. A key event that pushed many Ijaw people towards accepting political violence by ‘our boys’ took place in 1999, when residents of a Niger Delta village called Odi killed twelve policemen who had abused residents; the newly elected Nigerian President (Obasanjo) ordered that the army be sent in to crush ‘rebellion’ and slaughtered over 3,000 residents including children; he showed no remorse, rather he blamed the people of Odi; they deserved their punishment.
Since 1999 the US and UK have tried to ‘civilise’ the Nigeria Police with several training and reorientation programmes (Dfid 2008). But the 260,000 rank and file, the 50,000 senior officers and Mobile Police (known as ‘MoPo’ ‘kill-and-go’) still see themselves as having the ‘right’ to lash out with weapons and even kill in retaliation for youth or community attacks on police buildings and personnel (Wikipedia 2008).
A summary of selected riots, disturbances and incidents is given in Table 2. It records some violent events as examples of different expressions of resistance to the State’s view of ‘law and order’, and of popular demands for a fair distribution between ethnicities according to Nigeria’s ‘federal character’ of locally valued assets (e.g. local government institutions). Tables 3 and 4 analyse similarities and differences in selected militant organisations.
Islamic fundamentalist organisations (Table 2), illustrate how Muslim youth and older members draw on a mix of traditional and class symbols for unity, internal discipline, and authority invested in recognised leaders. Of these we can mention the Islamist Maitatsine rebellion.
The Maitatsine reform movement sought, from the 1960s, to abolish corruption and substitute clean governance according to Quranic principles in the Nigerian State as well as among other (rival) Muslim congregations (e.g. Sufi orders, Yan Izala, the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood). Mohammed Marwa Maitatsine was renowned in Kano for his controversial preachings on the Quran and critical statements about the State. Though unpopular with state authorities for perceivably inflammatory, subversive and militaristic teaching, he began to be accepted by Islamic authorities in the 1970s (Wikepdia 2010a). His preaching attracted largely a following of subaltern Hausa youths, unemployed migrant young men, and those who felt that mainstream Muslim teachers were not doing enough for their client communities. Maitatsine claimed to be a prophet; he was killed by security forces in 1980 during the Kano insurrection which saw over 4,000 dead. Some contemporary Islamic reform groups as Boko Haram claim descent from Maitatsine.
Boko Haram (‘Western education is a sin’) seeks to impose Shari‘a law throughout Nigeria. The sect claims to be an offshoot of Maitatsine as does the Kalo-Kato group. Boko Haram was founded in 2002 in Maiduguri by Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf, who was shot dead without due process by the police in the 2009 uprising. In 2004 the sect set up a congregation at Kanamma, Yobe state, known locally as ‘Afghanistan’ since members engaged periodically in what communities perceived to be ‘Taliban’ style attacks on police outposts, killing police officers. Their objective is to impose reform on corrupt (Muslim) elites who have adopted ‘bad’ Western values, and to establish Shari’a states throughout Nigeria. To that end, when preaching fails to persuade corrupt elements to reform, violence may be necessary.
Seventy members of the Boko Haram sect erupted, guns blazing, on 26 July 2009 in an attack on a police station at Zongo near Bauchi in retaliation for the arrest by police of branch leaders suspected of plotting extreme violence against the State’s security agencies, particularly the police. According to press reports sect youth were armed with grenades and guns including several AK-47s. Thirty-eight members were killed in the fighting along with a soldier (Gusau 2009). Soldiers launched reprisal attacks in Bauchi as well as Maiduguri where Yusuf had sought refuge close to the mosque used by followers. Several armed youth were reported to have ‘bombed’ police facilities with burning motor bicycles, during attacks on a Maiduguri police station during the July 2009 uprising. Some members of the sect reportedly came from Chad and spoke only Arabic; Chadians launched a fierce attack on Wudil Divisional Police Station, near Kano (Wikipedia 2009b; Muslim News 2009).
In Bornu, Boko Haram armed sect members targeted the Police armoury, the Maiduguri new Prison (whose inmates they released) and the life of the commander of the joint border patrol. As prison inmates fled, militants took hostage the correspondent of the Daily Trust newspaper, alleging that he had betrayed the sect by dressing and growing a beard like them, but had failed to protect their interests by fighting the Borno state government and its security agents. He had also failed to assist Boko Haram in waging jihad against the Izala sect and its mosques in Maiduguri. Of the some 154 people killed, over 11 5 were said to be sect members who had used swords, bows and arrows, sticks, petrol bombs and several guns in attacking police headquarters. A Nigerian army detachment surrounded Yusuf’s home on 28 July, killing followers — over 25 bodies of young men were photographed by press reporters, trussed up, face down, shot in the back of the head without trial; then police removed Yusuf to a police station where subsequently, without interview or trial, he was shot dead. On 30 July mobile police from Operation Flush II, and soldiers, killed over 100 sect members in fighting in Maiduguri; three police were also killed. Security forces entered the mosque occupied by militants and raked the inside with machine gun fire. Elsewhere soldiers and police engaged militants in house to house fighting. Violent clashes were also reported from Potiskum (southern Plateau state) and Wudil near Kano (Wikipedia 2010b). In all about 300 people were killed, including children, police and soldiers.
Boko Haram items displayed by police to the public as ‘evidence’ of the sect’s dangerous intentions and capabilities included knives, cutlasses, local charms and drugs apparently used by youth before launching their attacks. Modern weapons collected were gun powder using in making explosives, equipment for manufacturing local guns, pump action guns, revolvers, a few AK47s and an air rifle. Many of the sect were said by the police to be teenagers from Kano and Bornu states. Others, killed by the police, were children between the ages of eight and fifteen; the police admitted after serious press and human rights NGO questioning to having shot three, but journalists reported eight to twelve children shot dead by security agents in cold blood (Gusau 2009; Wikipedia 2010b).
In December 2009 an Islamist sect, Kalo-Kato — said by member to be related to Maitatsine and Boko Haram — struck in the Zango area near Bauchi city. Full violence commenced subsequently, when during morning prayers at the mosque, the Kalo-Kato sect leader started preaching that other Islamic sects (e.g. Yan Izala) were infidels; he condemned the state government for ordering the arrests of ‘fanatics’ and strongly denounced police and army reprisals against Boko Haram members as, according to him, ‘they were preaching the truth’; that is, ‘the reality in the country’ of ‘selfish’ governance and disobedience to the Quran and Shari’a law. Kalo-Kato sought the release of remaining Boko Haram leaders and members currently facing trial in the High Court, Bauchi. Six soldiers entered the mosque trying to stop the preaching, not knowing that the militants were well armed; the latter killed one soldier and absconded with his rifle. Allegedly five hundred adherents then attempted to embark on a procession of protest, but were obstructed by neighbours and Mobile Police from Operation Flush. Members went wild, attacking anyone in sight and burning houses; some reportedly wore ‘long white jumpers’ infected with powerful charms that the youth believed protected themselves against bullets, knives and arrows (Obateru 2009).
Thirty seven members, two policemen and two soldiers were killed along with four children, said to have been burnt to death when their house was torched by Kalo-Kato sect child members. Reportedly the latter were mainly children between ten to fifteen years of age, backed up by adults, were torching houses and attacking anyone standing in their way (Obateru 2009). Many of the dead were said by police to have ‘killed themselves’. Security reports blamed the violence on a quarrel between sect leaders and their followers. Human rights organisations are demanding prosecution of the security forces for extra-judicial ‘barbaric killings’ (HRW 2009a).
Tables 3 and 4 comprise, respectively, a preliminary outline of some social features of militant organisations and analysis of organisational variables.
The organisations differ in that Islamists situate their marginalised, militant groups in relation to traditional Ummah institutions and sacred texts as the Quran, while Niger Delta groups articulate a common identity through worship of traditional gods, reliance on juju and community ‘mothers’, and on follower identification with rent-seeking through resource control. Again, Islamist sects reviewed here seek justice and governance in line with Quranic precepts, not resource control and rent-seeking; lacking much modern weaponry Islamist followers seem aware of their position as a subaltern under-class fighting its corner against powerful corrupt interests.
Donor governments and AFRICOM should consider, in the light of the Niger Delta’s militant struggle and its proven capacity to reduce oil output, whether militarization in partnership with kleptocratic ruling oligarchies will secure US-EU MNCs’ priority access to strategic natural resources to which communities have strong traditional claims. Or whether, as in the Niger Delta, the more force used by the State the more subaltern violence grows. An alternative fifteen year strategy for peace would, first, strengthen community land management, especially in settlements close to areas with strategic resources as uranium, oil, diamonds, gold and bauxite so as to build in these regional hubs the basis of a politics of growth and equitable accumulation as against ‘big’ men’s ‘selfish’ control of distribution and patronage. Second, it would improve community, NGO and West African government capacity to promote transparent competition between Asian and Western dominated MNCs. Such a strategy could sustain at the community and local government levels institutional capacity building for resource conflict resolution (UNDP 2009) that erases subaltern resistance currently used by the US-EU to justify the ‘War on Terror’; this would reduce US-EU defence costs [Note 12]. Still, a strategy of running an alternative community based capacity building programme alongside formal political structures (and all-important relatively invisible networks of illegal accumulation embedded in old institutions with the potential to penetrate new initiatives) would need considerable support from ECOWAS, the AU, MNCs, and major US-EU-Asian donors. That might be difficult to secure unless, in response to militarization, full-scale militancy in the Niger Delta, Niger/Mali blocks strategic resource flows to the West African State and overseas metropoles.
As Bourdieu has argued, violence inbuilt into everyday life is linked to the emergence and growth of explicit political terror and state repression (Scheper-Hughes and Bourgeois 2004: 20) In challenging the kleptocratic State by seeking just governance, subaltern youth are rejecting their subordinate under-class status and the legitimacy of the State’s formal policing system. Some are prepared, and do, sacrifice their lives for their cause (HRW 2009). Advocacy activists in Nigeria, Guinea, Niger and Mali are calling for urgent reforms to end extra-judicial killings and the culture of impunity in West African police and the military to ensure prosecution of perpetrators of such violence against citizens.
I have argued that the primary cause of unending cycles of violence nourishing ‘terrorism’ is not the State’s security agencies, per se, but as Islamic militants as well as Western donors recognise, ‘bad’ governance. Clientelism, not corruption, is the primary cause of subaltern resistance and dominant class reliance on violent repression. Linked as cause and consequence of clientelism are: first, the West African-Nigerian ruling class’s insertion into profoundly lucrative networks of trade in illegal goods for capital accumulation that rely largely on pecuniary and physical methods of control; second, the patrimonial system’s failure to implement the customary ‘just’ redistribution of ‘dividends’. Godfathers and other ‘big men’ are more committed to securing a permanent position for themselves, and their extended families (dynasties), in the dominant political-military-commercial class than they are to upholding traditional clientelistic values of ‘sharing’.
Is it that the State’s repressive security agencies are implementing ‘war’ — against their own young people for allegedly committing ‘terrorism’ (Kapferer 2009)? In press reports following Islamic sects’ attacks in 2009, police declined to use the words ‘murder’ or ‘homicide’ to describe the killing force they had deployed; rather they preferred to speak euphemistically of ‘mopping up operations’ against ‘terrorists’, ‘rebels’. Clearly, Nigerian (and other repressive West African) regimes are so habituated to violence that the dominant class and subalterns live in a permanent ‘state of exception’ to democratic constitutions and the international law of human rights. Subaltern youth, adults and children lack rights and are treated as if they are beyond the law; they can be sacrificed, not killed (Agamben 2005: 7-11 ).
In conclusion, politically acceptable, realistic alternatives to Africa’s militarisation are vital to help halt prospects of potentially appalling conflict between, on the one hand, regionally based imperial confederations (Western, Asian and Middle Eastern) — equipped with nuclear arsenals and remotely operated unarmed and armed aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones (Singer 2009), their political and corporate bourgeoisies in fierce competition for control of Africa’s strategic but finite resources to sustain high rates of capital accumulation elsewhere — and on the other hand, dispersed radical movements, a mix of under-class and radicalised middle class elements surplus to capital accumulation, convinced there is nothing to lose but everything to gain in spiritual blessings, for do they not, in Baudrillard’s (2002) words, labour to radicalise the world by sacrifice?
I wish to thank the Editor for constructive comments, Bruce Kapferer for encouragement and many subaltern friends for their support in the field.
* APS: African Partnership Station
* AU: African Union
* ECOWAS: Economic Community of West African States
* EU: European Union
* DfID: Department for International Development
* FGN: Federal Government of Nigeria
* HRW: Human Rights Watch
* IMF: International Monetary Fund
* IT: Information Technology
* LGA/LGC: Local Government Authority/Local Government Council
* MASSOB: Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra
* MEND: Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta
* MNC: Multi-national Corporation
* NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
* NDPVF: Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force
* NDV: Niger Delta Vigilantes
* PDP: People’s Democratic Party
* UAV: Unarmed Aerial Vehicle
* UN: United Nations
* USADF: United States African Development Foundation
* US AFRICOM: Africa Command
* WB: World Bank
* WTO: World Treaty Organisation
1. Terrorism — the systematic use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes; the state of fear and submission produced by terrorization. Youth are males aged c.15-35 years.
2. Declining Nigerian life expectancy (c. 62-65 years in 1960 45-50 in 2009; one of the highest world rates of maternal mortality; one of the highest world death rates in children under 5 years (UN Development Report 2008).
3. Clientelism — asymmetrical political relations between followers and leaders; a patron protects and ‘looks after’ less powerful men and their families, his clients. Patrimonialism — ‘big men’ (patrons) coordinate networks of accumulation to constitute a patrimony, fund, capital for family and clan benefit; lesser patrons and clients expect ‘shares’.
4. Dfid, Security, Justice and Growth Programme 2003-2008.
5. In the early 1990s Taiwan was more interested in Nigeria than China.
6. Abdulmutalab may have been planted on the plane by someone other than a fellow radical Muslim — but by whom?
7. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the Nigerian working class based in city factory production in Lagos, Aba, Jos, Kano and Kaduna was growing rapidly in numbers, trade union organisation and consciousness. 30% of today’s subalterns live in cities almost devoid of factories, 70% live in rural areas where kin-based support networks render meaningful symbols and practices of ethnicity, religion and clientelism that habituate the marginalised majority to ‘accept’/’endure’/’do’ every day violence.
8. AFRICOM’s Equipment: In 2009 US Air Forces Africa (AFA AFRICA, 17 th Air Force) flew a new C-1303 Super Hercules tactical airlifter aircraft from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to pick up seventeen troops assisting with training Malian forces. By 2010, AFA AFRICA will be able to call on 14 such aircraft in support of their mission in Africa (Torres 2010). Is the US command setting up a new West African regional military force (Scavetta 2009)? Will the US use private security companies (e.g., CSS Global Inc) as in Somalia, to establish a small but flexible military presence in selected states (ibid)? Will UAVs be awarded to favoured West African states?
NATO: France has about 7,000 troops in different West African countries from Senegal to Gabon; about 2,900 French troops are also stationed in Djibouti where the US command has leased Fort Lemonier as an AFRICOM naval base. Africa is a testing ground for NATO’s Rapid Response Force and the US’s 1,000 ship Navy and Global Fleet Station projects (Wikipedia 2009a).
9. Narcotic trafficking networks are backed by godfathers’ command of (illegal) physical force and ‘money bags’. Networks are reportedly informal, segmentary and non-centralised with levels of players, for example, lowly (under-class) ‘mules’ and above them ‘fixers’ who may not know much about the network’s principal bosses (Ellis 2009:185-191).
10. An early reference in published form to town unions and youth associations is by Smythe and Smythe (1962). Vigilantes flourished in Igbo communities during the turbulent build up to the Biafran Civil War (1967-70), and as armed robbers extracting money and goods as well as protecting their own people, on highways at night, and in neighbourhoods. Vigilantes or ‘youth’ organisations with ‘protective’ functions were absorbed into the Biafran army during the civil war, and subsequently reappeared as civilian organisations. Some of these organisations have strong roots in male secret societies with initiation rituals (Pratten and Sen 2005; Ifeka 2006).
11. For example, Maradi, southern Niger (Duval-Smith 2001); the Casamance, Senegal (Diallo 2010; HRW 2009b).
12. Hubs for development with peace and transparency across the region, achievements in governance broadcast by the visual, print, party and electronic media, could provide models of cleaner more equitable governance. As in Pro-Natura Nigeria’s successful community development foundation programmes in the Niger Delta, elected leaders representing the working and middle classes — vigilante organisations, farmers and graziers associations, trade unions, religious confederations, professional associations of doctors, teachers and lawyers — might be mobilised to provide the infra-structure and social services that alone convince the majority that the way of peaceful development is best. Such leaderships could largely bypass a despised and unpopular oligarchic West African Bonapartist class, mediating on behalf of its own pecuniary and self-serving financial gain between ‘people’ and Western/Asian institutions and banks
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