During a meeting with US officials and Nigeria’s vice-president in the aftermath of the Lekki tollgate shooting incident, the American government condemned “the use of excessive force by military forces who fired on unarmed demonstrators in Lagos”.
Anyone expecting such strong words, specifically about the Lekki tollgate incident, from the British government may be disappointed as the Boris Johnson administration cannot afford to dish out such strong rebuke about an incident the Nigerian government is not even publicly acknowledging.
The Foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, merely issued the most tepid and vague of responses shortly after the incident and only after Shadow Minister for Africa, Stephen Doughty, brought up the issue, specifically the horrific killings at Lekki tollgate during a committee meeting on Wednesday.
In his statement, Dominic Raab did not even mention the Lekki tollgate incident and there is no evidence that his statement will be followed up with the Nigerian government.
Apart from the fact that both Boris Johnson and his Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, don’t care about Nigerians dying on the streets of Lagos, judging from utterances they made during the BLM protests last summer, there is further reason for them to thread carefully around the Buhari government for now: BREXIT.
It is no longer news that Boris Johnson’s attempt to circumvent a deal he signed with the EU in order to deliver on his Brexit promise to Northern Ireland is unacceptable to the world’s two largest economies, the EU and the US.
Even if his pal, Donald Trump, won the presidential election in the US, the Democrats will still retain the House of Representatives and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has warned that if Mr. Johnson went ahead with his plan to circumvent his agreement with the EU, there will be ‘absolutely no chance’ of a UK/US trade deal.
Boris Johnson will find himself in an even trickier situation if Biden won the election. Apparently, the former US vice-president is not a fan of either Brexit or Johnson himself.
Mr. Johnson has a different set of self-inflicted problems with the third largest economy, China.
Japan is the only one of the world’s five largest economies that the Johnson administration seems not to have issues with. A trade deal with Japan has only recently been signed.
There are proposals to open trade talks with Canada and the success of the talks may be hinged on who wins next month’s US presidential elections and his desire to influence trade relations between their closest neighbours and most reliable ally.
After Japan, India is the only major economy left to deal with and talks with India may not be that easy due to the fact that India’s economy has recently become larger than that of the UK coupled with deep anti-British sentiments going as far back as the days of the “Partition”.
With the Johnson administration at loggerheads with the countries controlling half of the world’s economy this is not the time to upset the leader of a mid-level economy and largest in Africa.
Unfortunately for those expecting any form of punitive measures against the Buhari administration from the UK, it’s probably never going to happen as the Nigerian president seems to have Johnson’s balls in his hands for now.