© Stratfor 2015
Western-backed Boko Haram militants have nestled themselves conveniently near oil-rich Lake Chad. (Click to enlarge.)
On Tuesday July 25th, Nigeria's northeastern province of Borno was attacked by Boko Haram terrorists. The ambush attack against a convoy of specialists from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) left more than 50 people dead and 83 others injured.

Interestingly, this attack occurred shortly after Nigeria announced it is reviving its search for oil - aided by China - in the northeast. Two days after the attack, the Nigerian Federal Government said it would halt oil exploration in the lake Chad basin.

This area, and other northern parts, have been a target of terrorists since 2009. The country has however dealt with attacks on oil (pipelines and exploration teams) before Boko Haram 'officially' started carrying out attacks in 2009 after its founding in 2002.

Nigeria has been an important source of oil and petroleum for China for decades, and both countries have cooperated on oil exploration since at least 2006. Oil exploration has however been difficult with the presence of Boko Haram, and militant groups in the oil-rich region in the south.

When 'Giant of Africa' Nigeria handed licenses to China's National Petroleum Corporation in 2006 to explore four blocks - two areas in Niger Delta (southern Nigeria) and two in the Borno Lake Chad basin - attacks by militant groups increased. Six years later, in 2012, oil reserves in the Lake Chad Basin were discovered, but was followed by a strong resurgence of attacks by Boko Haram making it difficult for geologists and others to access the area.

Dr. Peregrino Brimah notes the following in an article from Every Nigerian Do Something:
[I]n 2012 oil was found in the Borno Lake Chad basin.

But as is the curse of all regions in the third world where oil is found, perhaps not by pure coincidence, a new Boko Haram II terror group reappeared in Borno and was powerfully sponsored to take over from where the defunct Yusufiyyah initial Boko Haram I group that was destroyed by late Umaru Yar'Adua, used to function. This new Boko Haram II was more brutal and determined to kill or expel all indigenous people from the oil endowed northern state. [...]

The Association of Petroleum Inland Basins States of Northern Nigeria (APIBONN) has been fighting to fast-track the exploration of oil and gas in basins in the north of the nation; however the terror situation conveniently prevents any serious efforts at exploration. [...]

It is time to ask many, many questions. Is someone stopping exploration? Does someone wish to annex Borno? Does someone wish to carve out oil-rich Borno as his new nation? There is no question that the find of oil reserves in 2012 potentially puts the entire conflict in the north in a different light. Blood oil?
Attacks in Niger Delta's Main Oil-producing Areas

The oil-rich region of the Niger River delta in southern Nigeria has also endured many attacks. In April, 2006, for example, a bomb exploded near an oil refinery in the Niger Delta region by a militant group called 'the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta' (MEND).

This explosion coincided with the visit of the former Chinese President Hu Jintao to Nigeria, and the earlier mentioned granting of four oil drilling licenses valued at $4 billion to Chinese oil companies. It was agreed upon that China will buy a controlling stake in Nigeria's 110,000 barrel-a-day Kaduna oil refinery and build a railroad system along with power stations.

The attack was MEND's warning against Chinese expansion in the region. They stated: "We wish to warn the Chinese government and its oil companies to steer well clear of the Niger Delta. The Chinese government by investing in stolen crude places its citizens in our line of fire." Similar attacks have come and gone since.

'Soldiers for Emancipation', 'Avengers', 'Greenland Justice Warriors', and other silly-named terrorist militant groups have attacked this oil-rich region.
Fast forward to last year, at a time when oil hit a 13 year low, the region came under serious fire. According to Reuters the attacks had driven Nigerian oil output to near a 22-year low at 1.69 million bpd, leading to Nigeria falling behind Angola as Africa's largest oil producer.

Those attacks were however carried out by a 'formerly unknown' group of terrorists, the 'Niger Delta Avengers', that emerged in March 2016. They described themselves as being "young, educated, well traveled and most of [them educated] in east Europe", and they tend to parrot their fellow terrorists words, claiming that "by October 2016 we will display our Currency, Flag, Passport, our ruling Council and our Territory to the world."

As author Tyler Durden of Zerohedge wrote at the time:
What is odd is how unexpectedly this group of African "freedom fighters" emerged, and created a website no less, just as oil hit a 13 year low. One almost wonders if there was not certain western financial and military backing behind said group of "freedom fighters", perhaps backing that has an interest in the price of oil going higher, and thus any sunk costs to fund and arm the NDA would be promptly recovered once oil jumped... as it has in the past week as a result of none other than Goldman highlighting Nigeria's oil supply problems and making it the basis for their "bullish" (if only in the shorter-term) oil call.
As a response to these attacks, President of Nigeria, Buhari, commented during a visit in China on April 12, 2016, that he will deal with them "the way we dealt with Boko Haram," adding that he hopes "this message will reach the vandals and saboteurs who are blowing up pipelines and installations."

Around the time these militants agreed to a ceasefire on August 27th, 2016 (though their latest attack took place on November 15th 2016) a new group emerged by the name of 'The Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate' (NDGJM). In other words, the 'Avengers' simply changed their 'name'. This group carried out more attacks on gas and oil pipelines until the end of 2016.

In response to Buhari's comment above, the 'Avengers' said the following: "President Buhari and his Northern brothers-led government sees the oil in the Niger Delta as far more important than the lives of the Niger Deltans." While these 'patriotic' militant groups claim to stand for Niger Deltans and Nigerians in general, and sabotage attempts made by China to strengthen its economic relations with Nigeria, it is interesting to note that Nigerians do not share the militants' opinion that China is a force of evil.

According to a BBC World Service Poll in 2014, 85% of Nigerians approved of Chinese positive influence in the country, making Nigeria the most pro-Chinese nation in the world:
"The most favourable views of China are found in Africa where no surveyed country has less than 65 per cent of positive views. Positive views have increased in two of the three surveyed African nations, reaching 85 per cent in Nigeria (up 7 points, tying China itself in giving the highest percentage in the survey), and 65 per cent in Kenya (also up 7 points). Views have remained stable in Ghana, where two thirds of the opinion lean favourable (67%)." (BBC World Service Poll, p. 37)
It seems clear then that these Niger Delta militant groups are serving their own interests by extorting a monthly stipend from the government in exchange for a cessation of attacks. As a 'coincidental' knock-on effect, they serve the interests of the US deep state in sabotaging moves by China to strengthen its economic relations with Nigeria and thereby diversify its oil and gas supply.

As noted by 21st Century Wire: "One only need to read the strategic briefings in U.S. AFRICOM documents to realize the true endgame for Africa: the eviction of Chinese economic and political influence throughout the continent, and when it comes to achieving that goal, anything goes (including a theatric Boko Haram production it seems)."

Bilateral Cooperation Between China and Nigeria

Back in 2006, former Special Representative of the Chinese government on African Affairs, Liu Guijin, said that China is not only seeking imports of energy from the Middle East, but also from Africa:
"China has always depended heavily on the Middle East, and that still remains the main source of supply," said ambassador Guijin. "But China is diversifying to secure its supply, and now imports energy from countries in Africa such as Angola, Nigeria and Sudan. In these countries China is working hard to make sure that energy cooperation is win-win and mutually beneficial."
Which is what likely triggered Western jihadi factories to 'unleash' terrorists on Nigerian land.
© NAN
China's foreign Affairs minister Wang Yi and President Muhammadu Buhari on January 11th, 2017.
Regardless of the terrorist attacks in Nigeria, cooperation continues and deals have been made between the both countries. A sample of developments (including cooperation on other levels) between Nigeria and China, so far have been:
  • China Civil Engineering Construction Corp. will build a $5.8 billion hydroelectric power station in eastern Nigeria, with 85 percent of the funding to come from Beijing's Export-Import Bank.
  • Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, Li Keqiang, has said that China will import $8 trillion worth of goods from Nigeria, and other parts of the world in the next five years. Premier Keqiang stated: "This new round of industrial revolution is expected to give a strong boost to economic growth to Nigeria and countries across the globe, as well as targeted at delivering massive benefits to all countries, including Nigeria, to bring about new and better hope for citizens."
  • Chinese banks contributed $250m towards a Nigerian gas project.
  • Since 2005, Nigeria is one of the African countries that has been using more military exports supplied by China.
  • Nigeria signed provisional agreements worth $80bn with Chinese companies to upgrade its oil and gas infrastructure.
In addition, the Chinese have been contributing towards Nigeria's infrastructure development for more than four decades.

© Xinhua File Photo/Cheng Guangming
Chinese and local employees work at the construction site of a rail project linking Nigeria's capital city Abuja and its northwestern state of Kaduna, Nov. 25, 2014. The China Railway Construction Corporation carries out the work on the country's first standard gauge railway line.
Enter Russia

The fight against terrorists will undoubtedly have a higher chance of succeeding with Russian help. On August 22nd, 2017, during the Army-2017 international forum held in the Moscow region, Dan-Ali, Minister of Defence of Nigeria, met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, and discussed counterterrorism cooperation. Dan-Ali told Sputnik:
"[W]e discussed counterterrorism cooperation with Shoigu and I highlighted the role Russia has been playing across the globe. We know that insurgency is a global problem, and Russia has been assisting Afghanistan, Syria and Turkey in this regard. We are also looking for assistance from Russia in our sub-region since we have similar problem of insurgency. Russia is playing a very important role in the Middle East, especially, in fighting ISIL. All around the globe Russia has been doing very well fighting terrorism."
In May, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said that Russia "will continue to support steps taken by the Nigerian Government in the fight against Boko Haram." Nigeria is planning to purchase more military equipment from Russia, in particular MiG fighters and some artillery equipment. According to Russia Direct, Russia has already been training Nigerian troops in counter-terrorism.

Besides the military support from Russia, Russia is also helping Nigeria with oil and gas exploration. In addition, Nigeria is interested in Russia's help regarding nuclear power plants, petroleum pipelines, railways, home building and agricultural and food-processing technology.

Final Thoughts

Nigeria has been infected by Western-backed terrorists for many years. Evidence for US involvement with Niger Delta terrorists is circumstantial and is likely to remain so given the complex way in which weapons and money are transferred to such groups. The conflict in Nigeria has left at least 20,000 dead and displaced more than 2.6 million Nigerians. While terrorist attacks in the West have gained much coverage over the years, recent attacks in Nigeria are barely mentioned in mainstream media. Just a month ago, a triple suicide attack claimed the lives of at least 30 people, and similar attacks will likely occur in the future.

In February last year, Nigerian Senator Baba Kaka Garbai stated that Boko Haram controls half of Borno. Despite the fact that some progress has been made in dealing with the terror groups, many Borno villages are still being controlled by Boko Haram according to an article on Daily Post Nigeria published in July this year.

With Chinese and Russian military equipment and support, Nigeria may be better equipped to deal with Boko Haram and saboteurs in southern parts of the country. Despite efforts by Western governments to destabilize Nigeria in order to thwart attempts by China to strengthen its economic ties with Nigeria and vice versa, the bilateral cooperation between them continues, including cooperation on oil exploration, once the coast is clear, so to speak.