NBC quotes Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham on Nigerian oil exports to the United States:
“Nigeria is facing a sea change in relations with the United States, a sea change in its geopolitical position in the world,” says Peter Pham, director of the Africa Program at the Atlantic Council, searching for words to capture the magnitude of the moment.
As a result of the shift, U.S. relations with oil exporters will grow far more complicated as the haves become economic have-nots. It’s already happening with Nigeria, says Pham.
The comments were posted on the front page of the embassy’s website, which Pham said wouldn’t have happened without approval from the Nigerian goverment. And the angry rejoinder itself wouldn’t have happened at all in the past, when relations between the countries were considered too important to risk ruffling feathers in Washington.
Pham suggested that the lack of oil trade also could lead the U.S. to step back or even away from Nigeria.
Six years ago, he noted the U.S. played a key role in negotiations between the Nigerian government and a group of insurgents known as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), who felt they had been left out of the economic boom fueled by oil production in the delta. When they rose up, a third of the nation’s oil production was cut off.
“The U.S. coaxed Nigeria into peace talks with amnesty payments, training, etc., (and) successive U.S. ambassadors were involved,” noted Pham. “Would they be involved again? Although U.S. companies, like Chevron would be affected, the U.S. oil supply would not. Would it be easier for a U.S. administration to not make it a priority?”