The Pentagon moves to keep Nigeria locked down
The African country of Nigeria supplies nearly 3% of the world’s oil, and is currently the top producer in Africa. Despite the country’s vast natural wealth and exports, the average person in Nigeria does not live so well.
According to the CIA World Factbook, the average life expectancy is only 52.6 years. Only 61.3% of the population is literate. 29% of Nigerians between the age of 5 and 14 are child laborers.
The government of Nigeria has long been a tool of European and US corporations. In 2013, the Nigerian regime received $652 million in US foreign aid. Protests were launched all over the world, when Ken Saro Wiwa, an environmental activist, was executed by a military tribunal in 1995. The execution was blatantly done on behalf of Shell Oil, so much so that in 2009 $15.5 million was paid to the families of Wiwa and Shell’s other victims in order to prevent a trial in a United States District Court.
When Nigerians held a general strike, demanding better economic conditions on January 9th, 2012, the result was brutal repression. Roads were blocked, curfews imposed, with at least 16 Nigerians killed. By the time the strike ended on January 15th, the military was patrolling the country, enforcing a ban on all protests of any kind.
The continuing reality for long has been that Nigerians are suffering and poor, and brutally repressed when they rebel, while US and European corporations make billions from their oil.
China enters the picture
As the global economic landscape changes, the United States and Europe are not the only centers of economic power. The People’s Republic of China, which was almost immune of the financial crash of 2008, due to heavy state intervention in its economy, is a rising competitor to the United States. Nigeria’s ruling circles, though they have long been loyal clients of US and Europe, seem to realize this.
A new program has been established, subsidizing Nigerians who wish to study in Chinese Universities. Chinese officials, including former President Hu Jintao, often visit Nigeria. China has pushed for Nigeria to be part of the UN Security Council. All of this is occurring, as Nigeria begins to purchase more and more Chinese manufactured products.
The official enemy of the Nigerian regime is The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad, also known as Boko Haram. The insurgents blame the country’s poverty on the West, and call for the transformation of Nigeria into a strict, non-westernized Islamic state.
Chinese officials have made endless amounts of statements declaring support for the government of Nigeria in its efforts to fight Boko Haram. The Chinese government has even supplied Nigeria with a warship for its Navy.
“Bring back our girls” charade
Interestingly, the US government has kept Boko Haram off the official list of foreign terrorist organizations for years. Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari pointed out that Boko Haram-aligned forces are receiving US weapons and funding as they bomb, torture, kidnap, and murder people in the hopes of overthrowing the Syrian Arab Republic.
Yet, suddenly, “Bring Back Our Girls” became the latest social-media campaign. Like “Invisible Children” and “Kony 2012”, or the call to “Save Darfur”, Facebook, Twitter, CNN, and MSNBC were buzzing with emotional calls for US intervention in Nigeria, in response to Boko Haram kidnapping a number of young Nigerian women. The emotional frenzy comes while US-aligned terrorists kidnap children in Syria all the time, with no coverage or concern from the mainstream press.
The shrill, high pitched, emotional rhetoric surrounding “Bring Back Our Girls” painted a bizarre, simplistic narrative of Nigerian society. It was as if Western colonialism, oil markets, China-US rivalry, and all other factors did not exist. Michele Obama and various celebrities acted as spokespeople. The US needed to move in and rescue the poor innocent girls, and all were supposed to celebrate and jump with glee as US drones were unleashed on the African continent.
The US has now dramatically increased its military presence in Nigeria. US troops and US drones have joined the military advisers and Pentagon contractors already in the country.
The alleged reason for this dramatic western move into Nigeria is to fight Boko Haram, the latest villains in the 24 hour CNN melodrama, who have oddly never been declared a foreign terrorist organization by US officials.
In reality, these troops are there to keep Nigeria under US dominion. They are there to make sure that Nigeria’s oil continues to flow westward, not to the east. They are there to threaten the People’s Republic of China, already being surrounded by the Asian pivot, as it expands its role in international markets.
In addition, if the workers of Nigeria rise up and rebel, as they did in 2012 with their general strike, the repressive Nigerian oil state will not be patrolling the streets and killing protesters alone. There will be plenty of western military forces to help keep the regime and the colonial relations behind it intact.
As poverty and austerity grow rapidly in the western sphere of the economy, the explosion is coming. The billionaires in Wall Street and London are preparing for the fight ahead as they move in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. The battle that is coming could be struggle for their very existence. From Nigeria to Kiev, many are asking “Is a new world war about to break out?”
Caleb Maupin is a political analyst who lives in New York City, and is an activist with the International Action Center and Workers World Party. He was part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.