Emmanuel Ogebe writes on Why Nigeria Should not let the US Push It to War in Niger Part 6
Recently Nigerians are discovering things they didn’t know about the complex relationship of their country with its neighbors.
Uranium is the most popular nuclear fuel and Niger is the seventh-largest producer in the world generating electricity in France – but only 14% of Nigeriens have access to electricity with more than ¾ of the country without power supply.
Rather Niger relies on Nigeria, which lacks power itself, for 70% of its electricity under an agreement not to dam a river that runs from Niger into Nigeria.
Niger owes Nigeria N40Billion in electricity over the years but still built a dam blocking the river flow into Nigeria.
However Nigeria cut the power supply only after the coup in Niger recently. Yet a Nigerian official in charge of the program based in Niger said while the people there are not used to power shortage, he’s used to it from living in Nigeria. In other words, the power situation was better in Niger than Nigeria which supplied them electricity!
France and US are trying to dislodge the coupists using Nigeria and ECOWAS, by war even, to protect recondite interests.
Now let’s turn to the grave Cameroun situation. In the ‘80s, Nigeria entered a similar agreement with Cameroun. However it was to do the opposite and build a dam to block a river from flooding into Nigeria.
Nigeria was to build its own dam so that if Cameroun’s hydropower dam ever exceeded capacity and needed to be opened, Nigeria’s dam downstream would absorb the excess water and rechannel it to irrigation and power generation.
However, Buhari overthrew the government and canceled the project. Despite promises by various governments since, it has never been built and every once in a while, Cameroun will open its floodgates which overrun Nigeria killing Nigerians and destroying their livelihoods. For decades.
I learnt of this situation a couple of years ago from my adopted son. The sole survivor of a massacre of Christian workers at his employment place in Yobe a dozen years ago, I had helped him with multiple continuing surgeries to recover from five gunshots including two – point blank in his head.
He relocated to Taraba state for safety and began successful farming to survive having lost his construction job in Yobe due to the insurgency. Then a couple years ago, he lost everything again when Cameroun opened the dam and devastated numerous farms in the region. Now he’s reduced to zero, suffered a second stroke last year and needing money for his medication not to mention maintaining his family.
Nigeria happened to him after he survived Boko Haram and it is unclear if he can survive Nigeria.
One must ask the question, what kind of country provides electricity to Niger for free while depriving its own paying citizens of electricity even though Niger blocked the river that would have helped Nigeria generate more electricity? And also what country would refuse to build a dam that would create employment, generate electricity and protect its citizens’ lives even after a poorer country did so?
It appears that Nigeria’s love for Niger is greater than it’s love for Nigerians. Portions of Cameroun even used to be part of Nigeria showing just how close the affinity is but while Niger violated its part of the agreement, Nigeria kept its own side and spends billions building roads, rail, schools and mansions in Niger. And while Cameroun kept its own part and built a hydroelectric dam for its people some of whom were formerly Nigerian, Nigeria has failed to obey its own side of the agreement which was to empower its own citizens! Just how evil is that?
Nigeria is a crime against humanity.
Cameroun has consistently forewarned Nigeria of the impending invasion of water across the borders. When it’s dam reaches 91% capacity, they communicate with Nigeria. Nigeria fails to prepare and evacuate its citizens or even compensate them after the avoidable disaster. Reportedly over 500 Nigerians have been killed and 1.4Million displaced in the last flooding per intrepid investigative journalist David Hundeyin.
Nigeria is a man-made disaster.
So what is Nigeria doing about a known recurring threat across its borders? It’s building a $10Billion gas Pipeline passing through Niger in partnership with Morocco to supply gas to Europe while it is unable to harness gas itself to provide electricity to Nigerians.
In other words, just like the parasitic French extra-colonialists are forcefully extracting uranium from Niger to electrify France without electrifying Niger, Nigerian misrulers are extracting gas to power Europe without electrifying Nigeria!
Nigeria did not partner with Morocco to replicate its massive solar farm power infrastructure to resurrect Nigeria’s standby “generator-powered“ economy but rather a wild-goose-chase pipeline, to get more income for looting, which the coupists have suspended.
If Nigeria had used the $4Billion loan for a railway line to Niger (which the govt didn’t approve) for a nuclear power plant instead, it would have benefited both countries economies more significantly.
The issues of the River tributary into Nigeria which has been dammed would have been mitigated as well as Nigeria’s power supply to Niger for which they owe N40Billion.
Niger would have been exporting electricity to Nigeria, which Nigeria lacks, instead of exporting oil to Nigeria which Nigeria does not lack. Nigeria wouldn’t be wasting billions on the refinery being built in Katsina to process Niger crude instead of fixing its four refineries purpose-built for its own Bonny light sweet crude.
If Nigeria had a joint Uranium nuclear power production project with Niger, it would not have been as negatively impacted as it has now with the suspended pipeline pass-through project or the endangered Katsina refinery.
Rather than waste resources on a war with Niger or these other poorly-conceived projects, Nigeria needs to spend money protecting itself from the perennial Camerounian flood invasion by urgently building the hydropower dam and thereby do some good for its own citizens.
The coup in Gabon has been called the latest in “Africa’s Summer” akin to the “Arab spring”. While there is a populist anti-colonialist trend in the Francophone region, countries like Nigeria, under internal colonialism, need to reprioritize the essential needs of their citizens (instead of self-looting resources abroad) or risk facing similar upheavals.
Ironically, the National Orientation Agency which has announced that Nigerians should “move to higher ground” to avoid the coming flood, is also celebrating the anniversary of its establishment. It was set up long after the dam was supposed to have been built and has consumed billions since as merely a propaganda agency.
– Emmanuel Ogebe is a US-based lawyer and Nigeria international affairs expert with the U.S. Nigeria Law Group, Washington DC.