The collapse of the strategic oil relationship between the U.S and the Middle East suppliers brought the Gulf of Guinea and the Niger Delta into a high profile global energy partnership. The strategic shift had developed as a form of buffer or counter weight against the insecurity of supply in the Persian Gulf. This study, therefore explores the rise of the Gulf of Guinea and Niger Delta as strategic partners. It illustrates the character of strategic or resource – rich region and the security challenges orchestrated by the attempts to protect and subsequently explore these resources. Predicated on Immanuel Wallerstein World System Theory which reveals that the direct consequences of capitalist drive for raw materials such as oil, market and profit often engender violence, the study illustrates the character of strategic oil resource – rich region and the security challenges orchestrated by attempts to protect and explore these resources. Our method of data collection is qualitative technique. We made use of secondary sources of data. In our method of data analysis we adopt the qualitative descriptive analysis. The study hypothesizes a causal relationship between crisis in the Niger Delta and the increase in U.S military presence or deployment in the region. It concludes that the resort to naked force for the protection of oil infrastructure and installations by the Nigerian State and the U.S has ignited crises and attendant deaths in the region. Finally, the study suggests
addressing observable contradictions in the system engendered by oil wealth and distributive politics. This calls for the strengthening of the security institutions and policies of the Nigerian State to ensure strict adherence to global best practices in security considerations, good governance and the development of a comprehensive national security strategic plan that would holistically address the main security challenges facing the country and the region.
1.1 Background of the Study
Nigeria has vast oil reserves and oil is currently seen as a “strategic commodity”. As a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and the sixth highest oil exporting nation in the world, Nigeria has long perceived itself and by others as a potential force for regional stability and development in Africa ( Nwackukwu, 1960). During the Cold War, the United States viewed Africa as a major battle ground with the Soviet Union. As a result, it poured billions of dollars in economic and military aid into the continent. After the collapse of communism, American interest in Africa waned. In 1995, a Pentagon report concluded that the United States had “very little traditional strategic interest in Africa”. Incidentally, as the Middle East region becomes more volatile, the Nigeria oil industry gained increasing attention of the Bush Administration as it aimed to diversify the U.S oil imports.
The Bush Administration’s national energy policy, released on May 2005, predicted that West Africa would become “one of the fastest growing sources of oil and gas for the American market (Onuoha, 2005). Paul
Michael Wihbey of Washington Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies described West Africa as “an area of vital US interest” in his testimony before Congress. He proposed the creation of a new South
Atlantic military command that would “permit the US Navy and Armed Forces to more easily project power to defend America’s interests and allies in West Africa” (Klare, 2006). The September 11 attack on the World Trade
Centre heightened American attention to Africa, with national security
planners urging that the United States should diversify her strategic oil
interest in the Middle East.