Recently, the chairman of the Senate Committee on information, Senator Sanusi Dagash alerted Nigerians to the surrender of President Olusegun Obasanjo to the United States well orchestrated plan to render null the recently-established International Criminal Court (ICC). This Obasanjo did, by secretly signing the so-called non-surrender agreement with the United States. And as usual, this he did, without the mandatory constitutional approval of the Senate..
The United States has been aggressively opposed to the Hague-based International Criminal Court, because being the one country that illegally throws its weight around the world invading countries at will to remove leaders and impose puppets, most of the time employing lies as pretext, it was not going to allow its citizens to be brought to trial. It is also protecting the impunity with which its ill-disciplined soldiers have behaved in several parts of the world from Vietnam through Afghanistan to Iraq.
Therefore a so-called American Servicemen Protection Act (APSA) was passed with effect form July 1, 2003. The main issue in this act is to arm-twist and blackmail countries around the world, with threats to suspend military assistance for refusal to grant American citizens immunity from the jurisdiction of the international criminal court. From 1999, a sad aspect of the foreign policy of general Olusegun Obasanjo’s government has been an excessive toadying to the wishes of the United States. The Nigerian armed forces were literally surrendered to the Americans under a so-called military assistance program. In a bizarre twist of logic, the United States Army which has never recorded significant peace keeping successes was now handed the mandate to train the Nigerian army whose major credits over the years have been related to outstanding peace keeping efforts around the world. Similarly, economic policies that have the neoliberal imprimatur of the Breton woods institutions and the conservative Bush administration are being imposed on Nigeria with their disastrous consequences for the Nigerian people by the Obasanjo administration.
The decision to unilaterally sign the so-called non-surrender agreement with the United States without consulting with the Nigeria people, through their elected Senators, is a further testimony to the level which Obasanjo has carried impunity in his husbandry of both domestic and international affairs over the past four years.
The implication of Obasanjo’s surrender to the United States is that he has negated Nigeria’s obligations to the ICC and worse still, has extended protection to US citizens and soldiers who might be accused of war crimes from facing ICC prosecution as they continue their rampage in places like Afghanistan, Iraq or wherever the might decide again to impose their diktat.
It is therefore imperative for Nigerians to wake up to the fact that Obasanjo has signed an agreement in the name of our country that is clearly against our interest. He must be asked, just as Senator Dagash demanded to brief the National Assembly and the Nigerian people on the content of the agreement he signed with the Americans in secret, and for the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs to conduct a full-scale inquiry into the implications of the non-surrender treaty for Nigeria.
A one-man conduct of foreign policy, especially with a President who believes he alone has all the answers to the problems of nation-building is fraught with a lot of negative consequences. It is particularly serious where such a president enters into agreements with a country like the United States whose imperialist foreign policy tramples upon all norms of civilised conduct of contemporary international relations.
Our heroes past did not struggle to liberate our country from colonialism, only for an incumbent president to take us to the most unpatriotic form of neo-colonial surrender such as Obasanjo has done with the non-surrender agreement with the United States under the American Servicemen Protection Act (ASPA). It is an agreement that must be rejected in its entirety by Nigerians.