Note: This update has links. Click them to reference some of the terms I have used that you may not understand or be familiar with.
If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, Then how can you contend with horses? – Jeremiah 12:5
It is a common occurrence for a group of people living together at a certain time, or within a certain period to be completely oblivious of the significance of the times upon which they live. As events and incidents gradually unfold before their eyes, they are caught up in the mundane interpretations of the moment, unaware of the bigger picture – that a series of seemingly uncoordinated occurrences are adding up to forever change their destiny.
And as titanic interests line up against each other, those that will be most affected by the epic struggle continue to trudge on in blissful ignorance – blissful until they inadvertently end up as collateral damage.
Sometimes, what you think are your biggest problems are actually no problem at all. And in the time of need, you might actually realize that it is that which you despised that would have saved your skin.
I’m pretty sure that in the 1800s, the people who lived in what would eventually become the Federal Republic of Nigeria had many problems. From the small community issues to even larger inter-tribal skirmishes. There were little empires trying to expand, some kingdoms getting greedy. Your greatest fear was that the kingdom next door will suddenly attack you at night, kill your young men and steal your wives and goats.
They were oblivious of the fact that in far away Europe, there were bigger problems brewing. Powers that they had never encountered and did not anticipate had begun to decide their fate. Their land was being divided, the price for their young was being set and our destiny was being changed forever.
The horses are coming…
There have always been larger and titanic interests in the world – Principalities, endowed with the resources and the will to overrun any number of territories and plunder them. The ways and manner in which this has been done have varied, but from generation to generation these principalities have perpetuated and have locked horns with each other – and the grass has suffered.
In literature, news and history, these struggles have been chronicled in different forms: East vs West, Free men versus Slaves, Communism vs Capitalism, the Nazis vs everyone else. In each chronicle, one interest seeks the liberty and freedom of men whilst the other seeks to overrun their established order and impose on them constraints to the benefit of only a few.
Over the course of history, these epic struggles have had several turning points. Each turning point coming when a small group of seeming “insignificants” take a stand, realizing the true value of the assets committed to their stewardship. The cultured resistance of the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae in 480 BC was one of such moments – a combination of resolve, intellect and providence – capable of grinding the juggernaut that was the Persian Empire to a halt. The 300 Spartans did not win the battle – they were all killed – but their spirited resistance had demystified the Persian god king, creating a wave of motivation for other, hitherto despondent, opposition to take pot-shots.
In recent history, these enormous interests have played their roles again. It was over commodities like palm oil, gold, tin,cocoa and slaves that the scramble for Africa happened. It is no secret that the African conflicts that raged in the 80’s and 90’s in places like Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, DR Congo, Congo Brazzaville and later in Cote D’Ivoire were fueled by the desires of a few powerful interests to establish and maintain a global monopoly on the sale of diamonds. Although, in each of the specific instances, domestic differences and conflicts were escalated and exploited to create the semblance of local disputes. Yet the belligerents in the above mentioned conflicts continued to show up on the battle field with weapons too sophisticated for them to manufacture or otherwise afford.
In 1928, Sir John Cadman of British Petroleum, Sir Henry Deterding of Royal Dutch/Shell, Walter Teagle of Exxon and William Mellon of Gulf met at Cadman’s castle near Achnacarry, Scotland. Here an agreement was reached that would divide up the world’s oil reserves and markets.
The Achnacarry Agreement became known to oil industry insiders as the “As Is Agreement” because its aim was to maintain a status quo under which the Seven Sisters controlled the world’s oil through market share agreements, sharing of refining and storage facilities, and by agreeing to limit production to keep prices high.
One of the best ways to limit the production of natural resources is conflict. If there is conflict in the area where the resource is being produced, production will drop and prices will soar. The graph below shows the relationship between some recent conflicts and the price of oil:
In April, 2011, Dean Henderson in an article for the Center for Research on Globalization (http://www.globalresearch.ca) describes how the Seven Sisters transformed into Four Horsemen behind the oil wars.
Nigeria is responsible for 12-15% of US oil imports – the 5th largest exporter of oil to the US behind Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The strategic importance of Nigeria’s oil exports is often underplayed, yet even in the worst days of the Abacha dictatorship, it was impossible for the US to impose tough sanctions on Nigeria because such an action would have hurt the US more than it would hurt the late dictator.
Hence, if there are “Four Horsemen” seeking to dominate oil production in the world, then Nigeria will be very important. The strategic interests would have to be protected from the sudden whims of whoever it is that emerges as leader or local tin god in Nigeria… and some times, radical action will be required to ensure all ducks are in a row.
Nigeria has experienced problems in the oil-producing Niger Delta since the 1990s. However, following the emergence of Democracy in Nigeria, the conflicts escalated significantly with henchmen in the region suddenly gaining access to sophisticated battle technologies that they could neither manufacture or otherwise afford. It is worthy of note that the oil prices soared during this period, at one point reaching the dizzying heights of $100 per barrel. Oil majors were declaring record profits.
As the Boko Haram threat reaches dizzying heights, and while Nigerians are pre-occupied with mundane issues like blaming security agencies and government establishments – who we have all watched go completely rotten over three decades – the case is being gradually orchestrated for the need to introduce a stabilizing force of foreign source to secure the integrity and borders of the Nigerian enterprise.
To illustrate Nigeria’s predicament, I tell my friends a story about a small village located somewhere in a jungle, terrorized by man-eating lions. From time to time, the lions would strike and take either a goat, cattle or even children. And with each attack, the villagers would turn on each other to blame either the man who was supposed to be on guard (but fell asleep) or the youth who left the door open through which the lions crept in to inflict damage. Yet, night after night, the village was at the mercy of these marauders.
Then one day, in clear noon, the villagers saw the lions running towards the village. At first, they were scared and scrambled, but soon they noticed something strange… the lions were not running towards the village to attack it, they were seeking shelter!
And as the villagers looked in the direction of the jungle where the lions were running from… they beheld a horde Tyrannosaurs!
The CIA factbook lists the countries in the world with oil reserves ranked in the order of the volume of those reserves. Nigeria occupies an “enviable” 10th position in this ranking with about 37.5 billion barrels of proven reserves.
Just on top of Nigeria in that ranking, in 9th position is Libya.
Disclaimer: The rants on this blog update are covered by the Bubusian Blog Law I proposed in the beginning.