Friday, July 18, 2008

Britain's next war zone? Nigeria

You don't often hear much from Nigeria in the main stream news do you? It's probably a very insignificant African country of little importance in the global economy which ticks along quietly not being a bother to anybody. Yes?

Well, get ready for the media to get suddenly interested with more and more reports fed to them by the UK government of murder and mayhem from the region. Which in no way would be connected to the fact that Gordon Brown is planning on sending a bunch of military advisors to help train the Nigerian army how to put down those who oppose them. Which is in no way connected to British economic interests in the country. Which in no way is connected to the fact that Nigeria is the eighth biggest producer of oil in the world.

President Yar'Adua (pictured), who came to power in a rigged and completely meaningless vote last year, is visiting the UK at the moment to sort out the deal literally guaranteeing the supply of oil through murder.

Oil is 40% of Nigeria's GDP and I think it would be fair to say that the government is not particularly interested in running the country at all - only in keeping the supply of oil, and their backhanders, flowing. Which is precisely why those displaced from their homes or disenfranchised by a violent, murderous corrupt regime have felt they have no other option that to take up arms, to resist violently, and even to resort to kidnappings (effecting even Everton).

There is no democratic route to justice in Nigeria and the world does not give a toss what happens to some black peasant living in the back of beyond. If a family gets shot because they refuse to be displced by an oil company - well you wont hear it reported in the UK press, especially becuase we're talking about UK oil companies here.

Ironically it is this very policy of prioritising the oil over all other things that has created such a backlash - if there were some schools, civil rights and a bit of job creation there'd actually be less disruption to the flow - but that would not suit the personal interests of those most tied to the oil industry.

Brown should be intervening - but to arrest those UK citizens who have been complicit in the social and ecological disasters - not to send in troops to prop up a violent and anti-democratic regime. Still the British government tries to send those fleeing the political violence and poverty back. Poverty so bad that recently 12 unemployed people were killed in a stampede over the announcement of jobs. "After struggling through school, you have unemployment staring you in the face, and when you finally think succour has come to provide you with employment, the recruitment leads you to your grave,"

Of course there are voices from Nigeria getting through that are asking why the UK should be supporting a corrupt government that acts against the people in the interests of the oil corporations. It's also claimed that this will lead to more violence rather than less and increase the number of attacks - now where would we have seen that before?

The government is one big militia. Better armed, more ruthless, more organised than those resistance groups that have sprung up across the Niger Delta. But whilst those groups arose as a reaction to displacement, repression and poverty the government is the author of those woes.

Oil has only brought misery to the vast majority of the people of Nigeria. The jobs it brings go to foreign nationals, the wealth it produces goes into the pockets of the Western and Nigerian elites, it arms the people's oppressors, displaces the poor from their homes, distorts the economy and national life until those who are not part of the oil better not be in its way. And due to the strategic importance of oil if it ever looks like they might be able to throw off their government the West will step in to shore up their corrupt business partners.

Even Gordon Brown will have heard of the name Ken Saro Wiwa, surely. Well through these actions Brown is complicit in the fact that Ken Saro Wiwa will not be alone in his shallow grave. I've given up hope of an ethical foreign policy by now, I'm sure we all have, but that's no reason to turn a blind eye to our government's bloody support for yet another oil dictatorship.

Craig Murray on the same story.
Militia pledges to call off cease fire due to Brown's offer of military support.


Frank Partisan said...

Very good post.

I will mention this post at some Nigerian blogs.

Unknown said...

Bit more info over at schnews -