Nigeria ‘Rendition’ Shows How Britain’s Colonial Past (and Present?) is Making COP26 Leadership Tricky Indeed (5)

–Nigerian successionist’s family accuse the U.K. of not helping enough

OPINION BY MATHEW CARR

July 25-31, 2021 (LONDON): An apparent rendition of a successionist leader in Nigeria from Kenya showcases just how tricky Britain’s leadership of global climate talks is.

Ideally, the UN climate talks in November will install global(ish) minimum carbon prices, cut fossil-fuel subsidies and limit coal, oil and natural gas exploration and expansion.

The Paris climate deal, struck in 2015, is still without a rule book that would give it at least a few teeth. Its voluntary nature means the Paris deal probably won’t force any country to do anything it does not want to do. Emissions are rebounding strongly amid the global pandemic.

Britain’s enormous challenge is that UN decisions on the climate have to be agreed by all countries. After two years in office, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing not only the biggest test of his career, but one of the biggest tests ever of any Prime Minister. The next 100 days or so leading up to the talks are crucial.

Meanwhile, Britain’s conflicts of interest are threatening the process.

England colonised the world using “divide and conquer” tactics. Now, it’s apparently seeking to deploy “collaborate and conquer” to defeat the climate crisis.

It’s quite a switch.

The situation in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, is just one example of why this is proving tricky.

The Anglo Dutch oil major Royal Dutch Shell and its shareholders have made big profits from Nigeria. Some Nigerians have benefited, but mostly not so much. Now, Shell is selling some of its onshore assets because of security concerns (see note 3).

Others say the country could fall into another civil war (see note 7)… and as the International Energy Agency says, there’s no room for any more fossil fuel expansion globally (if the world is to meet the Paris climate targets) … and on top of that, this is happening:

The Biafra separatist leader, who is also a British citizen, was arrested (last month) by Nigerian authorities in Kenya and taken to Nigeria in an act of extraordinary rendition, his family and lawyers have claimed, according to the Guardian (see note 1).

Nnamdi Kanu, a British-Nigerian citizen, fled Nigeria in 2017 while on bail facing charges of terrorism and incitement, the newspaper said. He was arrested and brought to Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

There’s a BBC Pidgin language story out July 26, 2021 (see Note 8… that also includes a video interview with Kanu’s lawyer).

July 17, a website linked to Kanu accused Britain, oil revenue and the media of being complicit in Nigeria’s tension and poverty:

“The Fulani rogue government of British-Nigeria with the help of Britain suborns every influential entity on earth with the oil revenues from Biafra; hence, bribing and corrupting the international community as it commits genocide against Biafrans and other entrapped ethnicities forcibly agglomerated into British-Nigeria by Britain.” (see note 2 — I’m not endorsing the comments but I’m highlighting the very real tension. See the links below and others online if you want to read more.)

Kanu was meant to be appearing in court July 26:

This Tweet below apparently was wrong. Kanu didn’t arrive in court July 26 as expected, according to reports.

The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, has raised the alarm over the state of its leader Kanu, in custody of the Nigerian Department of State Services, DSS, according to the Daily Post (see note 9).

IPOB’s mouthpiece, Emma Powerful, alleged that Kanu may have been killed in DSS custody, according to the report. Powerful said the failure of the secret police to produce the Biafra agitator points to the fact that he may be dead.

Apparently this was a false accusation.

The family of Kanu on Thursday accused Britain of failing to provide him with consular assistance, via its London lawyers, Reuters reported (see note 10).

Last week also saw this news break:

The history:

Biafra in 1967

Wikipedia

Nigeria became independent of the U.K. in 1960. As with many other new African states, the borders of the country did not reflect earlier ethnic, cultural, religious, or political boundaries (divide and conquer). Biafra, officially the Republic of Biafra, was a secessionist state in West Africa that existed from May 1967 to January 1970, according to Wikipedia.[2] Nigeria declared war on Biafra shortly after its declaration of independence, eventually defeating it and reuniting the two states after more than two million people died.

The region has since become one of Nigeria’s fossil-fuel power houses.

Shell in Nigeria

Shell: https://www.shell.com.ng/promos/the-2021-nigeria-briefing-notes/_jcr_content.stream/1624529072672/1c8cbb007747372e1681b0f076659c245e5b81f4/shell-nigeria-briefing-notes-2021-v2.pdf

Britain will have to dance more delicately and show what’s in it for the region’s less wealthy people if it wants to get Nigeria (and other developing countries) on board with its global climate plans.

That’s being made more difficult because Britain is seeking to use even more than its fair share of the remaining global carbon budget on new coal, natural gas and oil projects. This is highly controversial given the lack of space left in the atmosphere for heat-trapping gas, yet it’s not being addressed by Johnson or his officials, not in public anyhow.

Don’t the COP26 leaders and Shell realise the likes of people of Nigeria/Biafra want to use their fair share of space for heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, or otherwise be granted compensation? (See notes 4, 5, 6)

With barely any space left for greenhouse gas, Shell is still expanding in the U.K. North Sea via its minority holding in the planned Cambo field — as it scales back in Nigeria.

The next three months are going to see more politicians debate how to carve up the remaining Paris carbon budget. Can COP26 come up with a way to change markets that will reward those countries who have not used their fair share of that budget?

Does Shell or should the likes of Shell take into account “fair share” of the global carbon budget as they choose countries in which to make their final fossil fuel investments?

I’ve asked and I will let you know if I find out.

“We were clear at our strategy day back in February of this year that our oil production has already peaked, that we would gradually year on year be reducing our oil production through to 2030, and that we were high-grading our global portfolio – i.e. focusing on a much smaller number of upstream hub areas, of which the U.K. North Sea is one,” Shell said by email.

I’ve also asked the British government for commentary and will update if possible. There are meetings being held last weekend in London between environment ministers, following the G20 meetings last week in Italy and ahead of COP26.

This is what he said after the two days:

There are also related conflicts in legal realms:

Shell has abandoned its final attempt to argue that a major lawsuit brought by thousands of Nigerians over an oil spill in the West African country should be heard in Nigeria, rather than the U.K., according to Energy Voice (see note 3).

Shell’s legal team declined to return to England’s High Court with arguments that the five-year-old case would be better heard in Nigeria, according to the parties in the case, conceding that the Nigerian subsidiary will now be joined to claims made in England against the parent company, it said.

Better markets and distributed clean energy would help the world dodge a lot of this oil-fueled political and legal tension in the future, but it’s still no sure thing and it’s a long way off.

Nigeria’s poor won’t be supportive of anything that smacks of further colonialism — the U.K. needs to be much more convincing on how the Paris rulebook can help deliver global climate justice.

~~~~~~~~~~

Note these planned protests in London from July 25:

IPOB is Indigenous People of Biafra

(Updates with Reuters story, Glencore Tweet, earlier Kanu failing to arrive in court; smoother language, BBC link, Alok Sharma Tweet. More to come.)

NOTES

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/09/biafra-separatist-leader-abducted-nigeria-kenya-family-alleges-nnamdi-kanu
  2. https://radiobiafra.co/buharis-terrorism-and-how-kanu-jumped-bail-setting-the-records-straight
  3. https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/natural-gas/051921-nigeria-confirms-it-is-in-talks-with-shell-over-sale-of-onshore-oil-assets
  4. https://uk.news.yahoo.com/cambo-drilling-plans-incompatible-climate-104507763.html?fr=sycsrp_catchall
  5. https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/columnists/climate-change-allowing-shell-to-drill-cambo-oil-field-off-shetland-is-like-opening-18-coal-fired-power-stations-dr-richard-dixon-3306913
  6. Greenpeace view: https://uk.news.yahoo.com/stop-cambo-oil-field-ll-061152815.html?fr=sycsrp_catchall
  7. Turkish Radio & Television: https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/nigeria-risks-descending-into-another-civil-war-48587
  8. https://www.bbc.com/pidgin/tori-57965218
  9. https://dailypost.ng/2021/07/26/biafra-dss-may-have-killed-nnamdi-kanu-ipob-alleges/
  10. https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/detained-biafra-separatists-family-complain-uk-over-lack-assistance-2021-07-29/
UK Government as at July 2021

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