Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

Nigeria's Relationship with the United Kingdom and Its Allies in the Light of Oil Theft in the Niger Delta and Piracy in Gulf of Guinea: A Geopolitical Perspective

Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

Nigeria's Relationship with the United Kingdom and Its Allies in the Light of Oil Theft in the Niger Delta and Piracy in Gulf of Guinea: A Geopolitical Perspective

Article excerpt

Introduction

Despite possessing the best quality of petroleum crude that requires very little refining in the world, Nigeria's revenue generation capability, which has for over six decades depended on this one commodity for its financial needs, has come up against several challenges. Recently, Nigeria lost one of its largest crude oil markets (the USA) due to the latter's decision to opt for unconventional fossil fuels (shale oil and shale gas, among others). Unconventional fossil fuels are derived by applying horizontal drilling technologies that are different from vertical drilling technologies that could not access such fuels. With commercially viable deposits of the unconventional fuels being discovered in many countries, it is believed that such drilling would, sooner than later, spread from the USA to other countries possessing these fuels. Nigeria has been facing the challenge of oil theft and piracy that have been posing considerable threats to the country's (sub)national economy. International responses to the latter challenges are being received by Nigeria's government. The UK Chamber of Shipping (UKCS) says that "Nigeria loses over £7 bn1 (described here as 'Terra-theft') a year to the oil theft in the Niger Delta...."2 One implication of the UKCS report is that Britain is suggesting that Nigeria's government has for over half of the duration of its political independence from colonial Britain (i.e., 30 of 54 years) has failed to institutionalize and manage a reliable security system covering its oil producing infrastructure and seaways. Economists consider annual losses of an average of £7 bn a year over the past 30 years as one of the explanations of mass poverty that has characterized Nigeria. Over 90% of Nigeria's population (projected at nearly 1 70 million) have been unable to earn/spend over US$2 a day. Estimated at ft2 tn, the amount lost by Nigeria to oil theft represents about half of Nigeria's annual budget (valued in Nigeria's currency, Naira (ft) 4.69 tn being the 2014 budget) as was approved by Nigeria's legislators.3 8,4

Economists have missed other vital points/issues contained in the UKCS Report (especially, veiled warning) regarding revenue losses to Nigeria, UK and West African countries as well as the source of the information (UKCS). The matter that economists are likely to ignore simultaneously attracts the keen interests of geopolitics. The matter is of even more importance to geopolitics for another reason: the UKCS also mentions in the same report that Nigeria's (Abuja) failure to deal decisively with mega oil theft over 30 years has been affecting (undermining) energy supplies as well as revenue generation in the UK and environs. One of the most important reasons why the UKCS report and its specific contents matter is the well-known hypersensitivity of countries (especially those who originated geopolitics, e.g., Germany, UK, USA and The Netherlands), since World War I up to the present, to issues in the nexus of energy: oil deposits, endowment, supplies, and related matters.5

One interesting question that this study and other studies related to this subject have to grapple with is the issue of damages inflicted on Nigeria following the colonization of the country by the British6 and how such damages ought to be incorporated into the current issues as oil-theft, piracy and insecurity that adversely affect the former colonial power (UK).

To highlight the significance of the UKCS report, this paper used principles of geopolitics analyzing and showing how the report's content represents enormous feedstock for policymaking in Nigeria's major revenue source (oil has contributed an average of about 90% of national revenue since the 1970s to the present), and beyond that international engagement with the UK, the US, among others, within the UK's influence concerning this matter. The latter policy implications of the details of this report would be immediately understood by specialists familiar with the subfield (geopolitics) that is a combination of geography and political science and practices of empire building and related processes and actions. …

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