17 July 2008

Another Vietnam?

What is all this talk of Britain sending "advisers" to the Niger Delta? What is all this talk from the Nigerian President about "Blood Oil"?

At the most recent G8 summit in Japan the President Yar'Adua reached out to Gordon Brown to ask for assistance in quelling the violence in the Niger Delta, and creating an orderly environment for the oil industry. His requests were quickly answered by the UK leader. That government will be sending "a training and advisory support package which could help improve Nigerian capability to improve security in the Delta." In other words, military advisers. Last I remembered, this usually constitutes and connotes some sort of shadowy counter-insurgency force.

Nevertheless, Yar'Adua confirmed to his UK counterparts, "his commitment to a peace process in the Niger Delta, which addresses the need for reconciliation between all parties and can deliver improved developments across the region."

How can this be possible when you are attempting to further militarize the Delta? How can a Nigerian president allow the British, of all people, former colonizers and exploiters of the country, to come in and "protect" natural resources? This is disgraceful. We all know what this military advice is about, and Mr. Brown even said it himself when he stated, "the security arrangements that we're discussing to be done jointly are very important to the future not just of Nigeria and peace there but also to the world energy market."

While Yar'Adua was at the G8 summit, he also urged the world community to create a vetting system, similar for that which exists for African diamonds, to ensure that oil coming from Nigeria is not the product of bunkering or hijacking. Putting the words Blood and Oil next to one another seems to be a pretty fitting description of the entire oil industry in Nigeria since its inception. People are dying in the Niger Delta, whether directly or indirectly, not because of the insurgency but because of militarization and environmental degradation. All of the oil from the Niger Delta is "Blood Oil", not just that which has been bunkered and illegally sold.

Once the UK arrives with its "advisers" there is going to be quite a bit more blood in Nigeria's oil. We must demand that this stop immediately.

reference articles

10 July 2008

MEND to lift ceasefire due to British PM statements

In a communique issued early this morning, the MEND called off its most recent ceasefire and strongly criticized British PM Gordon Brown, for his offer of support to Nigeria. The Prime Minister is quoted as saying, "We stand ready to give help to the Nigerians to deal with lawlessness that exists in this area and to achieve the levels of production that Nigeria is capable of, but because of the law and order problems has not been able to achieve." While those around Mr. Brown are denying that Britain means to supply military support, it does not seem outside the realm of possibility, considering that one of the major oil players in the Delta is Royal Dutch Shell, a partly British company. That company has lost hundreds of thousands of barrels of output over the last two years and increasingly since April. It also now appears that the sham peace summit is even more unlikely since UN Under-Secretary-General Ibrahim Gambari, who was strongly criticized by most in the Niger Delta, has decided not to participate. There is no peace summit. There is no peace. It seems fairly reasonable, for lack of any other viable option from their point of view, that Britain will support its interests quietly through military support to Abuja. This will only mean more violence and chaos in the Delta.


The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) wishes to sound a stern warning to the British Prime Minister, Mr Gordon Brown over his recent statement offering to provide military support to the illegal government of Umaru Yar'Adua in further oppressing the impoverished people of the Niger Delta.

To demonstrate our seriousness to the UK support of an injustice, MEND will be calling off its unilateral ceasefire with effect from midnight, saturday July 12, 2008.

Mr Yar'Adua in a fraudulent appeal to the G8 leaders in Japan, misled the international community into believing that the unrest and agitation in the region is due to oil theft which encourages "blood oil".

The international community and independent researchers are very well aware that the unrest in the region is as a result of over five decades of oil exploration that has developed other parts of Nigeria to the detriment of the environment and people of the Niger Delta.

The United Kingdom is part of this problem with the politics it played pre- independence that gave leverage to some sections of the country which has helped in marginalizing and exploiting the region today.

Should Gordon Brown make good his threat to support this criminality for the sake of oil, UK citizens and interests in Nigeria will suffer the consequences.

Jomo Gbomo

04 July 2008

Increased attention in the media

Read the story "One Reason Gas Is Emptying Your Wallet: Nigeria", from this past Sunday's New York Times. Although the story doesn't pierce beyond the surface issues, it is a reasonably good sign that people are beginning to pay attention to what is happening in the Delta. If we wish to see justice there, it will be up to activists and others to begin framing the issues in such a way as to spur international support and continue weakening the legitimacy of the regime.