Monday, September 16, 2013

Collapsing Countries: Nigeria

Technology and science find a way to discover more oil in the Gulf of Mexico. The world needs the good news because the rest is pretty awful. This is exciting tech stuff for a variety of reasons in that it is a domestic or secure source of oil, it will cut US oil imports at a time when traditional imports are in fluid situations, it may set us up longer term to have a different view of Middle East issues, and it creates domestic jobs (thank you, roustabouts). The industrial problem of the last decade has been cheap oil, as that looks pretty well gone. Why else would anyone be drilling through 10,000 feet of water and then miles of crust? The problem the world faces today with oil is that so many sources are behind politically problematic borders (Iran, Venezuela, Mexico) with development hampered by relations with the West (yes, even Mexico) or nations ripe with turmoil (entire MENA region). Another major supplier is in turmoil and off the Western radar screen. One nation that gets less attention but matters is Nigeria, and Nigeria looks to be on the verge of another civil war.

Nigeria has already had a civil war that killed millions that the West ignores in the average high school history class historical parade of atrocities and horrors. That war was within a decade of the end of colonialism and a few years after the Western press deemed it a successful story of decolonialism. This one looks a little different as it is a very distinct religious split of Muslims in the north versus Christians of the south. The Atlantic is quick to reinforce the horrible legacy of colonialism, yet quietly skips over the fact that after the first civil war the entire nation rebounded quickly due to oil revenue. Nigeria's oil provides a high majority of government revenue and foreign reserves. Like other Western outlets, they do not want to admit that this is very much an arm of global Islamic expansion. None other than Col. Gaddafi funded the destabilization of Nigeria.

Security sources disclosed that they had been aware of the intention of Col. Gaddafi to instigate the destabilization of Nigeria with a view to bringing to fruition, his proclamation early this year, that Nigeria would disintegrate into several parts unless the country was divided into two, with North going their own way and the South forming their own country.

Saturday Vanguard was told that it was in his bid to make this happen, that Col Gaddafi massively funded the construction of Mosques and other Islamic Centers of worship in Kano and other cities of the North. He was also said to have embarked on several humanitarian donations and visits to Kano and these other Northern states, most times unannounced, after which he would journey back to his country.

Gaddafi was using mercenaries from Nigeria in his army, so it makes sense that there was a diplomatic or social connection between the two countries outside of traditional channels. Muslims have had political power in Nigeria since its independence. They did not push the Islamist line a generation or two ago. The Atlantic never cites Gaddafi's work, which would have far more direct impact on contemporary issues than the British who left over fifty years ago. One commenter even cites the drawing of borders on a map over a century ago, which does affect the current situation but not like the Muslim dictator who was pumping million into a restless region. The UPI wire headline says that Christians are the ones threatening the nation with a religious war despite the article's reported facts that the Christian are responding to Muslim atrocities. No matter how obvious the villains, the media still must drag out the same tired narratives: "colonialism = bad" and "Christians attack Muslims".

Nigerians themselves are openly asking if a secession or dissolution referendum is the safer and better long term option. Nigeria suffers from corruption and overcrowding has strained infrastructure to the brink, forcing citizens to consider all avenues for change. Articles on Nigeria facing a new civil war have been around for years, so the resolution of the last civil war was nowhere close to being satisfactory for all combatants. They do not have a solid foundation for avoiding such a conflict. Nigeria is considered on the verge of becoming or already a failed state. Nigeria does have immense natural wealth in natural resources. Most importantly, Nigeria is an oil wealthy nation, so control of those resources is a critical calculation in who pushes for what outcome. Like seemingly all sub-Saharan African nations, they have a high fertility rate. The nation is 50-50 Muslim-Christian yet total fertility for Muslim regions is roughly 7.0 versus the Christian south's 4.7. If the Muslims just inflame and agitate but wait, they can control the entire nation and the oil revenue. If the nation splits now, the southern regions reap the oil rewards.

Nigeria's position as an oil exporter to the US has diminished. There is still hungry China to their east, and Nigeria's 2.2 million bpd production itself has importance on pricing due to the margins of the market. China is definitely watching the situation as invesment in Nigeria grows. Oil is over $100 a barrel, and excess worldwide capacity is limited if present at all. With the Middle East on edge, and Libya's oil industry virtually shutdown, all producers, and more importantly, exporters matter. Maybe the Nigerians will work it out and get back to the uneasy but livable truce after their civil war. Probably not as it is a religious matter, and militant Islam and jihad is still on the move. Technology is a better savior for US concerns. It is a better bet that the US will find another Thunderhorse platform pumping out significant barrels per day before Nigerian Muslims and Christians peacefully settle things. Good luck and God speed oil workers. May you keep the precious juice flowing.

1 comment:

Joseph Moroco said...

Supporting Biafran secession would have been a smarter long term policy.

Of course, one should never expect intelligent foreign policy.