The Niger Delta Avengers Declare War On Western Oil Giants

Roughly 70 percent of Nigerians -- particularly those in the oil-rich Niger Delta region -- live in poverty. That’s because Western oil giants like Shell and Chevron, not the Nigerian people, own and exploit the country’s lucrative resources.
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    The Niger Delta Militants have been targeting Western oil interests in Nigeria, drawing the ire of US media outlets, quick to dismiss their actions as terrorism.

    The Niger Delta Militants have been targeting Western oil interests in Nigeria, drawing the ire of US media outlets, who are quick to dismiss their actions as terrorism.

    WASHINGTON — (Analysis) On May 26, Chevron announced that it was shutting down its onshore operations in Nigeria due to “terrorism.” In the third assault targeting a Chevron facility in the country last month, the main electricity pipeline to one of Chevron’s facilities had been blown up.

    The “Niger Delta Avengers” are claiming responsibility for that incident and others in an ongoing wave of attacks this year that have targeted Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron, Western oil giants operating in the country.

    Yet many important facts about Nigeria, its history and its economy, are being left out of the media coverage of these events. The harsh living conditions of the 30 million people who live in the Niger Delta are the direct result of actions of foreign-headquartered oil giants operating in the region.

    There is a long history of armed conflict and separatist movements in the Niger Delta, and the horrific conditions, and the international community’s failure to address them, are a primary factor in the continued unrest and rising violence in the region.

     

    Nigeria is resource-rich, Nigerians are poor

    In the aftermath of the destruction of Libya, Nigeria is now the top oil-producing country in Africa. It’s also home to vast natural gas and mineral reserves.

    However, despite all these lucrative resources, Nigeria’s 173 million people are some of the poorest on Earth. According to the CIA World Factbook, Nigerians have an average life expectancy of just 53. Illiteracy is rampant, infant mortality rates run high, and roughly 70 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Of Nigerians ages 5 to 14, 29 percent work as child laborers.

    So why is it that Nigerians, who live in a country with such an abundance of human labor and natural resources, live in such horrific conditions? The reason is that these economic assets do not belong to them and they are not controlled by them. Western corporations like Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron — not the Nigerian people — have control of the country’s wealth.

    According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Niger Delta region itself contains “20 billion of Africa’s proven 66 billion barrels of oil reserves and more than 3 trillion cubic meters of gas reserves.” The region accounts for some 70 percent of Nigeria’s national income. Though Nigerian oil production is dropping, the exports continue to rise. U.S. imports of Nigerian crude oil are currently rising. In mid-March, the U.S. was importing an average of 559,000 barrels per day, up from just 52,000 barrels for all of 2015.

    Yet the people of the Niger Delta region live in shacks. Photographs published by the Daily Mail in 2013 showed Niger Delta residents drying their clothes on the oil and gas pipelines that crisscross their neighborhoods. Niger Delta residents feed themselves by slaying wild animals, and fishing from heavily contaminated ocean waters. Children play on beaches blackened by crude oil spills.

    Residents of the Niger Delta region live under the gun, not just of the Nigerian military and police, but also by Shell’s private militia, which has over 1,200 active soldiers. According to internal financial data leaked to The Guardian, Shell has spent tens of millions of dollars on “a 1,200-strong internal police force in Nigeria, plus a network of plainclothes informants.”

    “The documents show that nearly 40% of Shell’s total security expenditure over the three year period [2007-2009] – $383m (£244m) – was spent on protecting its staff and installations in Nigeria’s volatile Niger delta region,” Afua Hirsch and John Vidal reported in 2012. “In 2009, $65m was spent on Nigerian government forces and $75m on ‘other’ security costs – believed to be a mixture of private security firms and payments to individuals.”

    Meanwhile, while the oil giant shells out billions to bolster security, the environmental conditions of the Niger Delta are widely decried. Oil spills and fires are an everyday occurrence. The air is heavily polluted and dangerous to breathe. Water contamination in the Delta Region has reached alarming levels. Tens of millions of barrels of oil have been spilled in the Niger Delta over the last few decades. Shell has been caught deliberately fabricating the extent of environmental damage and the health impact on the population, and not fulfilling its obligations to clean up oil spills.

    Nigeria only recently became Africa’s top oil exporting country. For most of the past few decades, Libya was the continent’s top oil exporter, exporting as many as 1.2 million barrels of oil per day. Prior to the NATO intervention in 2011, Libya had the highest life expectancy on the entire continent. It boasted universal housing and literacy, along with free healthcare and education for the entire population. The “Islamic Socialist” government that ruled Libya from 1969 to 2011, nationalized the country’s oil resources and used the proceeds to fund the development of the country.

    When the foreign-backed uprising broke out in 2011, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was floating the idea of establishing a new currency for the African Union. Libya convened two international conferences to discuss the idea of establishing the “Gold Dinar,” and selling Libyan oil with a currency based in Africa that could rival to the dollar and the euro.

    The reason behind the divergence in the standard of living in Libya and Nigeria is clear: Libya controlled and exported its own oil resources, while Nigeria’s economy was left at the mercy of international conglomerates based in the West.

     

    A repressive, U.S.-backed regime

    The impoverished, oil-rich Nigerian nation is presided over by a government that has shocked the world with its human rights violations.

    The current president of Nigeria is Muhammadu Buhari, who served as the country’s military dictator from 1983 to 1985 after seizing power in a coup d’etat. He armed his police with whips, executed people for petty crimes like counterfeiting, and sent university students to prison for 21 years for cheating on their exams.

    Buhari routinely imprisoned and executed his political opponents, attempting to establish credibility as a “strong man” before being removed by one of his generals in 1985.

    Buhari assumed office as president of Nigeria last May, bringing the lengthy, corruption-laced presidency of Goodluck Jonathan to an end.

    Nigeria’s problems with human rights were highlighted in 1995, when Ken Saro-Wiwa was convicted of murder and summarily executed. The Nigerian activist, who led a peaceful movement for recognition of Nigerians’ environmental and human rights, was a recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize and the Right Livelihood Award.

    In 2009, Shell was forced to pay millions of dollars of reparations to Wiwa’s family. It was made apparent in U.S. Federal Courts that Shell had manipulated Nigeria’s legal system in order to have a prominent critic of their environmental policies killed.

    On Jan. 9, 2012 the U.S.-backed Nigerian government once again demonstrated its knack for repression when Nigerians held a general strike opposing the cuts in fuel subsidies. The response of the government to the peaceful, country-wide work stoppage was a brutal crackdown in which live ammunition was fired at protesters, and several people were killed. Roaming armed squads were deployed to forcibly end the general strike.

    In December of 2015 the Nigerian military perpetrated the Zaria massacre. The Nigerian military stormed the neighborhood where the Islamic Movement in Nigeria was headquartered, killing many unarmed residents. Amnesty International estimates that at least 350 people were killed, while others estimate that it could have been nearly 1,000. Ibrahim Al-Zakzaky, a Shiite cleric who had been working to bring Christians and Muslims in Nigeria together and to oppose the terrorism of Boko Haram, has been held in military detention ever since.

    Today, the Salafist terrorist organization called Boko Haram, which calls itself the African affiliate of Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the extremist group commonly known as ISIS or ISIL in the West), continues to wage a campaign of terrorism across Nigeria. A growing body of evidence suggests that local government officials in Nigeria support Boko Haram.

    Interestingly, Hillary Clinton, the current Democratic presidential frontrunner, refused to list Boko Haram as a terrorist organization when she served as U.S. Secretary of State. Her reasons were unclear.

    Even despite its frequent human rights violations, Nigeria is among the top recipients of U.S. foreign aid. U.S. military advisors are in Nigeria, working with the government in anti-terrorism efforts. After being elected, the former dictator Buhari visited the U.S. and met with President Barack Obama. Obama described Buhari, who tortured and repressed his people as a military dictator from 1983 to 1985, as having a “reputation for integrity and a very clear agenda.”

     

    ‘Terrorism’ after years of plunder

    The Niger Delta Avengers blew up the Chevron Valve Platform located on the high sea near Escravos in Warri, Delta State in a renewed attack on western oil installations.

    The Niger Delta Avengers blew up the Chevron Valve Platform located on the high sea near Escravos in Warri, Delta State in a renewed attack on western oil installations.

    U.S. media reports about the “terrorism” of the Niger Delta Avengers are ignoring the context. Nigeria, an oil-producing country, has been subjected to the theft of its natural resources — robbery that’s enforced by foreign-backed governments that violate human rights.

    The people of Nigeria, especially those of the Niger Delta region, have been subjected to great suffering at the hands of international oil companies and their allies.

    Peaceful movements such as Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky’s “Islamic Movement in Nigeria” have been ruthlessly crushed.

    A statement from the Niger Delta Avengers describes their intention with attacking Chevron facilities. It says:

    “To international Oil Companies, this is just the beginning and you have not seen anything yet. We will make you suffer as you have been made the people of Niger deltans suffered over the years from environmental degradation, and environment pollution.”

    The statement goes on to demand change and justice for their region:

    “We want a country that will turn the creeks of the Niger delta to a tourism heaven, a country that will achieve its full potentials, a country that will make health care system accessible by everyone. With Niger delta still under the country Nigeria we can’t make it possible. So we are calling on the Ban Ki-Moon Secretary General United Nations and all Heads of the government of the five Permanent Security Council members to come to the aid of Niger delta people. We are calling on world leaders to come to the Niger delta to see the atrocities committed by the Nigeria government.”

    The people of Nigeria, especially the oil- and natural gas-rich Niger Delta, have plenty to avenge. If the international media and the leaders of the world bothered to highlight the scandalous reality of everyday life in an oil-rich country, and if world leaders bothers to do something to improve these conditions, it’s likely that the violence unfolding in the Niger Delta would not be happening. Of course, these details are ignored in continued sensationalist coverage about “terrorists.”

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    • Rumpled

      Hard to sympathize with these petroleum producers. They knew they were dealing with strong-man crooks simply enriching themselves at the expense of the people.

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    • James Wherry

      Once again, this website tries the Cry of the Far, Far Left: “It’s America’s Fault.”

      The oil companies pay for access to the oil. The people defrauding the Nigerians are their own government. “As the government officials siphon off all the money generated from oil sales the infrastructure suffers. Most of the villages do not have electricity or even running water.[40] They do not have good access to schools or medical clinics. For many, even clean drinking water is difficult to come by.[36] The deterioration of the infrastructure in the delta states is so severe it is even a problem in the more urban areas. One example of this is the airport at Port Harcourt. Part of a fence was not properly maintained and an Air France flight hit a herd of cattle on the runway in 2005. The airport was closed and still had not reopened by 2007.[36]

      “The leadership of the Niger Delta region appears responsible for most of the underdevelopment in the region. There is large-scale corruption amongst the elected leaders especially governors,[41][42] and the leaders have helped sponsor the militant groups kidnapping innocent people and sabotaging efforts by the federal government for infrastructure development.[43] Indicted corrupt leaders are also cheered by the Niger Delta people.[44]”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum_industry_in_Nigeria

      The “blame America” crowd can start by “blaming black African leaders.”

      • Robin

        And I suppose the locals are supposed to clean up after ShellI? I suppose you take having clean water to drink and shower in for granted, how about if you trade places if you feel this is also the responsibility of their government. Corruption runs rampant in so many countries including America, actually one of the most corrupt people around is about to become president of America, she’s the reason Libya is a mess and had they been left alone, then this haphazard oil development in Niger wouldn’t be a concern because Libya was supplying enough but thanks to America’s next president, through the lies and corruption, Libya was destroyed and for what? Greed. The result has been hastily developed pipelines, contaminated water, polluted oceans, and major health concerns from the environmental pollution. It is not America’s fault that these poor desperate people are living in poverty but She’ll being an American Corp. they are responsible for the environmental disaster

        • James Wherry

          Your Strawman arguments are amusing. Shell, by the way, is Royal DUTCH Shell, right???? Again, another Leftist who wants to “Blame America” for everything so they can try and manipulate the rest of us into doing what you want.
          1. I’ll say it again and talk real slow: the leaders of African nations are responsible for their nations. They set the economic and environmental standards. They are busy looting their nations and shoveling the money into Swiss and Bahama bank accounts. Blame them, not me. “Blame America” won’t work. All you do is to SHILL for dictators in third world nations and exonerate them.

          2. As to Hillary, I’m a conservative Republican with a Libertarian “military isolationist” bent. Regardless of whether Rand Paul can say the phrase or not, our Founding Fathers told us to stay away from Foreign Entanglements and Military Adventurism. Anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes on tis website knows both my disgust for Mummar Qadafi AND my utter contempt for our military intervention in a civil war WITHOUT Congressional approval OR United Nations approval. Same for Yemen. Same for Syria. However, it was the BRITISH and the FRENCH who fought over Libyan oil rights in their cables about the intervention in Libya, not Americans.

          • DuelPistols

            And so why did America take part in ousting Gaddafi?

          • Lance Verner

            “Again, another Leftist who wants to “Blame America” for everything so they can try and manipulate the rest of us into doing what you want. ”
            No, its another rational “leftist” understanding that the world is not black and white, and that simply pointing the finger at corrupt African governments (Nigeria is one of them) while pretending that Western multinational corporations have very little to do with destabilization and deterioration of said countries is foolish and naïve.

        • TecumsehUnfaced

          You could point out to Wherry that Shell belongs to the same elite vampires that the U.S. government belongs to.

      • Lance Verner

        Typical idiotic American conservative lmao. First off genius Wikipedia is not a reliable source. So to quote it as much as you did is sad and pathetic.
        As for a Nigerian government being corrupt, nobody is denying or excusing that. What the article is highlighting is the DECADES of pollution and human rights neglect of the oil companies in the Niger Delta. Royal Dutch Shell as well as other oil companies have repeatedly spilled oil which lead to environmental issues.
        Google search Niger Delta Oil Crisis and Ken Sarowiwa. You may learn a thing or two. Oh and stop watching Fox news as well. Moron

        • James Wherry

          Of course, the fact that “Royal Dutch Shell” is a “Dutch” company probably hasn’t crossed your tiny little mind.

    • TecumsehUnfaced

      Hillary refused to list Boko Haram as a terrorist organization? Probably because they were good proxies for her spreading chaos.

      • Slingerss

        They have been listed on the Foreign Terrorist List since 2013. But, go ahead and spill that political hate.

        • TecumsehUnfaced

          Political hate you call it? I call it horror at bankster-corrupt war pig and country wrecker getting to be president.

          Note that Hillary left office February 1, 2013, and Boko Haram wasn’t put on Terrorist List until November.

          • Slingerss

            I’m not a H fan either. But now you’ve made me laugh out loud. Hilary has not done much for any of us!

    • TecumsehUnfaced

      Great article! Thanks for some filling that the mockingbirds of the MSM never gives us.