Hawking Nigeria

Jun 28, 2004 02:00 AM

“If you want to rule the world, you need to control oil. All the oil. Anywhere."
These words by Belgian writer and journalist Michel Collon in his book Monopoly capture the essence of what drives the engines of global strategic planning among the world economic powers. The politics of domestic security and foreign policy in the West revolve around a desire for easy access to and control of the world's energy resources to further consolidate Western dominance of global affairs.
America and Britain have been engaged in a policy of military imperialism for centuries. The American revolution itself was essentially an effort to bring the United States under new, non-British rulers, with the new regime sold to the public with nationalistic fervour as a democracy.

In the twentieth century, the American ruling class consisted of the Rockefellers, Browns, Harrimans, and Morgans. More recently, this “oligarchy” has found incarnation through, amongst others, the Bush clan that,beginning with Prescott Bush (G.W.'s grandfather), have served as satraps of the Rockefeller, Brown, and Harriman interests.
To overcome the problem of his oil holdings being broken apart by the US government in 1911, John Rockefeller set out to control the world's energy reserves. World War I was the strategy of the then world oil cartel comprised of Standard Oil (now ExxonMobil), Shell, and British Petroleum to take over the colonies of France, The Netherlands, Spain and Portugal. The engines of war now ran on petroleum-based products, so ownership of oil could determine who won or lost a war -- therefore who would rule the world.

To get an idea of how the politics of oil affects strategic thinking consider that the United States was brought into the second world war when in July 1941, President Roosevelt signed an embargo to stop all shipping to Japan. Ostensibly to retaliate for the Japanese invasion of French Indo-China, Roosevelt's US embargo cut off the Japanese oil supply and would quickly haveshut down Japan's economy.
So, in late November 1941 the Japanese sent a written "war warning" through diplomatic channels to Washington, demanding that the embargo be stopped, or else American sites in the Pacific would be attacked in retaliation. That formal diplomatic warning was ignored and the US made no reply. Just two weeks later the Japanese bombed the American embargo ships located in Pearl Harbour. After World War II and General MacArthur became military Governor over Japan, his assistant, Laurence Rockefeller (John Rockefeller's grandson) promoted the selling of munitions to Ho Chi Minh, the leader of Vietnam.

One of the world's largest oil fields ran along the coast of the South China Sea right off French Indo-China (now known as Vietnam). Laurence Rockefeller provided weapons to Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam (then a French colony) with the expectation that Vietnam would expel the French so that Standard Oil would take over the undeveloped offshore fields.
In 1954, the Vietnamese defeated and expelled the French at Dien Bien Phu with weaponry provided by the US. But Ho Chi Minh reneged on the deal after his discovery of the vast supply of oil off the Vietnamese coast. He deduced correctly that this was the reason for America's overtures towards him.
In 1964, after the contrived Gulf of Tonkin incident (the US government cited unfounded, and indeed non-existent, aggression from the North Vietnamese as “provocation”), several US aircraft carriers were stationed offshore of Vietnam and the 'war' was started. Standard Oil then began its ten year oil survey of the oil resources along the coast of the South China Sea.

Some 57,000 dead Americans and half a million dead Vietnamese later, Standard Oil concluded its business and the war in Vietnam could end. Nelson Rockefeller's personal assistant, Henry Kissinger, represented the US at the Vietnam/Paris Peace talks and won a Nobel Peace Prize in the bargain.
And after the dust had settled from the war, Vietnam divided their offshore coastal areainto numerous oil lots and allowed foreign companies to bid on the lots, with the proviso that Vietnam got a percentage of the action. Norway's Statoil, British Petroleum, Shell, Russia, Germany and Australia all won bids and began drilling within their areas.

Western greed has not abated a whit. The Americans and the British have a new imperialistic strategy by which they hope to gain total control of the world's energy supplies and the strategic Eurasian land mass.
First, they sell armaments to a regime (for example, Panama, Iraq, Yugoslavia/Kosovo, Afghan/Pakistan/Taliban Mujaheddin, Saudi Arabia). Then, they demonise the regime to which they sold the armaments and declare war on it (e.g. Panama Invasion, Gulf War, UN Kosovo war, Afghanistan war, Iraq War).
After the war, they station permanent military bases in the country and use the military bases to control the energy resources in the surrounding countries. Current US foreign policy is governed by the doctrine of "full-spectrum dominance": the US must control military, economic and political developments everywhere.

This new strategy began with the Panama invasion, and then orchestrated the so-called Gulf War, continued with the UN-sanctioned war in the Balkans, and now expands with the new wars against terrorism (Afghanistan, the Philippines, Iraq, and beyond).
On January 20, 2001, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that he was willing to deploy US military forces in "another 15 countries" if that is what it takes to combat terrorism. The reason the so-called "war against terrorism" began in Afghanistan is because it is critical to the US-British rulers' plans to control the Caspian Sea area oil and gas.

The UN-sanctioned war in the Balkans was all about oil and the pipeline easement for Caspian Sea oil to Western European markets through Kosovo to the Mediterranean Sea. When Yugoslavia refused to play ball with the International Monetary Fund, the US and Germany began a systematic campaign of destabilization, even using some of the veterans of Afghanistan in that "war."
Yugoslavia was broken up into compliant statelets, and the former Soviet Union was contained. The outcome: the de facto US occupation of Kosovo -- where America built its largest military base since the Vietnam War.

For a long time the oil and gas reserves of Central Asia had been controlled by Russia, and the Americans wanted to change all that. This is the reason that before the total collapse in unofficial relations and prior to the 9/11 attacks, the US government's initial policy towards Afghanistan was to consolidate the position of the Taliban regime to obtain access to the oil and gas reserves in Central Asia.
The US government saw the Taliban regime as a source of stability that would enable the construction of an oil pipeline across Central Asia, from the rich oilfields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean.

The former Soviet republics of Central Asia -- Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and especially "the new Kuwait", Kazakhstan -- have vast oil and gas reserves, but Russia had refused to allow for US extraction through Russian pipelines and Iran was considered a dangerous route. That left Afghanistan, and so through the major oil companies who fronted for the US administration, America attempted to establish a deal for the construction of a pipeline providing access to this black gold.
(The US oil company Chevron -- where Mr Bush's National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was a director throughout the 1990s -- is deeply involved in Kazakhstan. In 1995, another US company, Unocal (formerly Union Oil Company of California) signed a contract to export $ 8 bn worth of natural gas through a $ 3 bn pipeline which would go from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan. You connect the dots.)

How does Nigeria figure into all of this?
Nigeria's oil industry, for years plagued by inefficiency and corruption in official quarters is today at the mercy of Western manipulation through a crippling debt burden and the agency of oil multinationals, which are a proxy for direct Western control over Nigeria's social, political, and economic life.
At the height of the fuel crisis, Nigerian administration officials defended the indefensible spiralling costs of local energy prices by frothing out the antiphonal chant: "market forces, market forces." As if market forces are an act of God, like a tornado or hurricane, over which human beings do not have effective control. The fundamental question is do Western governments like, for example, America, leave their citizens totally at the mercy of market forces?

As the sun set on Bill Clinton's presidency world oil prices rose sharply, and that particular winter the administration was concerned that higher fuel prices at home would impact the consumer-driven economy negatively. Of particular concern were the costs of domestic heating gas for seniors on limited social security incomes.
America is in the vanguard of nations practicing free marketeconomics, but that notwithstanding Bill Clinton flooded the market with oil from the US strategic reserve in an effort to bring down oil prices and engender economic equalization and social security.

Over the past few months, George W. Bush has resisted pressure from his Democratic opponents to do the same and has instead employed the instrument of diplomacy to persuade OPEC, in particular Saudi Arabia, to boost production in the hopes that spiralling crude oil prices will fall -- again to provide equalization of the socio-economic framework that exists within their free market economy.
As at the time of the writing of this article, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is expected to rule in a case brought against the US by the EU and Brazil for its insistence on providing huge subsidies to America cotton farmers that boosts their competitiveness and viability, all despite America being the Apostolate of the doctrine of free market economics.

In our own backyard, John Kufuor of Ghana very recently said that to remove subsidies from petroleum products would mean for the Ghanaian people an erosion of the democratic gains made so far. Hear him: "If we abdicate our responsibility (by increasing fuel prices), all our gains of the last three years -- a stabilized currency, reduced inflation and lowered interest rate -- would be thrown into disarray and disaster will take over".
Well, disaster has taken over Nigeria for that very reason. For the Nigerian political elite the only reasonable mantra is: "market forces, market forces," while they engage in sharp practices and continue hawking Nigeria to the highest bidder.

It is no longer any secret (if ever it was) that the Obasanjo administration is following a script commissioned by the big economic powers, in particular the United States, that gives them effective control over the Nigerian economy to the detriment of the average Nigerian.
In his June 3, 2004, article "Continuing Fuel Crisis In Nigeria," Dr Gary Busch writes in the OCNUS Newsletter:"The NNPC no longer subsidizes the sale of crude to the domestic refineries, but charges the full OPEC price. That means that, down the line, the full price for refined products must be charged as part of the netback of refining high-priced crude. The fact that it is a domestic refinery theoretically refining the crude does not effectively reduce the price to the consumer.”

“Indeed, there are many analysts who say that if the domestic refineries have to pay world prices for crude it may actually be cheaper to continue to import refined products from efficient overseas refineries than the inefficient domestic refineries. The unions have picked up on this and have demanded that the government sell the crude to the domestic refineries at a subsidized price and to subsidize the price of imported fuels to the level at which it would be priced if the domestic refineries worked.”
“With the windfall profits of rising oil prices and the fact that Nigeria is pumping out about 800,000 bpd of crude over its OPEC quota, the government certainly has the funds for this."

The analysis by Dr Busch basically sums up the scenario that the Nigerian consumer faces: being at loggerheads with a government that is casting off all responsibility for providing for the well-being and happiness of the citizenry.
A statement signed by PENGASSAN (Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria) General Secretary, Dr Mojibayo Fadakinte, bears out the dubious intent of the Nigerian government to make fuel importation a fait accompli within the context of deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector: "We consider that selling the refineries in their current state will seriously distort the deregulation process as Nigerians would be subjected to the dollar import driven programme of the Federal Government because the buyers may not be obliged to repair the refineries as fuel import will be more profitable to them.”
"PENGASSAN, however, maintains that strategic national assets like the refineries can not be soldat the whims and caprices of a cabal without carrying the community and Nigerians along because the action may provoke communities to protest against such sale."

As observed by Dr Fadakinte, the Nigerian government appears bent on continuing the dollar driven manipulation of the Nigerian economy by the West through a sustained policy of importation of fuel. The evident eagerness of the Bureau of Public Enterprises to sell the refineries as scrap is in furtherance of the agenda to foreclose the resuscitation of local refining capacity to meet domestic fuel demand in preference for fuel importation -- without the element of subsidy.
Speaking of last strike, Dr Gary Busch writes (summing up the strategic thinking of the West): "The NLC has no right to do so under Nigerian law and is an unrepresentative body as far as democratic principles of elected government are concerned."

This insight into Western perception of Nigerian petroleum politics throws light on the reasons for our governments new-found faith in the judiciary in its attempt to curtail Labour's rights to call for national strikes, especially in view of the fact that a recent pronouncement of the Courts declared that Labour has the inalienable right to embark on strike to protest any policy of government that impacts on its well-being.
Hear Dr Busch again: "Things have not yet come to a head, but it is very likely that the Government will come down heavily against the strike call. The oil unions have a lot at stake in this strike. They know, or should know, that Nigeria's oil future lies in deepwater oil rigs. These can be easily operated by expatriate workers; indeed that is the trend they are fighting to control. If they strike they are adding to their long-term woes as it provides a further incentive to reduce Nigerian labour on the offshore platforms."

Another development which has not passed people's consciousness is that there are now two US strike force warships just outside Nigeria's waters, on a training operation in Sao Tome. If there is any unrest or attempted occupations of the deepwater rigs there is enough firepower in the area to put it down very quickly. That means Nigeria can still earn billions every day the strike goes on (indeed 95 % of the GNP) with deliveries from the FPSOs. The only sufferers will be, as usual, the Nigerian populace.
If there was any doubt that America's deployment of warships in the Gulf of Guinea was in keeping with its historic strategic doctrines of acting in furtherance of its national interests and influencing, to the maximum extent possible, the internal economic and political dynamics of the regions of their deployment that poser should erase them entirely.

The general area of the deployment is the JDZ or Joint Development Zone, an area jointly administered by Nigeria and Sao Tome for the vast oil blocks that exist in the overlapping maritime boundaries of the two countries. Is it mere coincidence that at a time of escalating American military involvement and interrelations with Nigeriaour country should at the same time be thrust into one of the fiercest socio-economic and political crises of its history, courtesy of the policies of the Obasanjo administration?
Even more scary is the thought that the Nigerian people can embark, or threaten to embark, on an industrial action to protest government policy in a critical industrial sector whose strategic operations are moving preponderantly to offshore facilities overrun by expatriate staff and safeguarded by foreign security forces to the extent that were the industrial actions effected they would not significantly impact the operations of those sectors?

It is business as usual in those sectors when Nigeria is burning. Is the economic security and well-being of the Western peoples of superior importance to the economic security and well-being of Nigerians when they are operating businesses in Nigeria and her territorial waters?
When President Obasanjo goes globetrotting in the name of seeking debt relief and FDI (foreign direct investments), what is he doing but hawking Nigeria's strategic interests to the highest bidder? The gusto with which this administration is ready to cannibalise the Nigerian economy in the name of privatisation may be in the interests of the Western creditor nations and in line with their doctrine, but the past five years of hardship, dislocation, and disruption that they have occasioned on the Nigerian citizenry have demonstrated that it is not in the overall interests of Nigeria. In a country of 130 mm people 70 % of whom live on less than a dollar a day, government cannot leave its citizens at the mercy of "market forces," which is simply a pseudonym for Western teleguidance and manipulation of our economy to bring it into conformance with Western indices and interests.

It is time the Nigerian people took back their country from those who have both stolen and put it up for sale. When General Victor Malu raised the alarm about Obasanjo hawking Nigeria's strategic secrets to the Americans, Nigerians probably thought he was talking nonsense. He was not.
It is time for all stakeholders in Nigeria to arraign this president before the court of public opinion and bring him to book before he destroys our country irreparably. As canvassed by other eminent Nigerians, among them Wole Soyinka, a government of National Unity is required to convene a truly sovereign national conference where Nigerians of all hues and shades can decide how they will co-exist and the method of governance that they will abide. If we do not act now tomorrow may be too late.

Source: Daily Champion
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