|U.S. Rejects FG’s Request For Marines In Niger Delta
By Chinedu Offor, Correspondent, Washington D.C.
Washington does not believe military force can resolve the Niger Delta question and has rejected Abuja’s request to deploy American marines in the region.
Such a deployment would have been part of an Africa Military Command approved by President George Bush, as mooted by the Pentagon to enable African countries break the backs of terrorism and Islamic militancy.
America plans to send thousands of forces to "strategic staging areas" on the continent to strengthen the hands of government forces.
It believes that Africa is becoming an attractive haven for terrorists dislodged from other parts of the world by the global war on terror.
Defence officials had called on countries to send in recommendations of how the new command can assist them to handle local or sub regional security problems.
Abuja requested "the presence of American marines in the Niger Delta to counter growing threats by militants on vital oil facilities."
Nigerian defense officials think that the presence of American troops would help restore the confidence of oil firms who are worried about disruption of operations and the abduction of their staff.
"The administration would provide security assistance to Nigeria, but we do not want to be bogged down and be drawn into what is essentially an internal Nigerian issue," an official stated.
Washington is, however, reluctant to dismiss the request entirely because of the interest of China to provide "advisers and amphibious military hardware to Nigeria.
"We are aware of the Chinese interest," the source added, "but that would not be in the interest of Nigeria as the Delta problem cannot be solved militarily."