The first installment of this article focused on the relationship between Boko Haram and the domestic politics of Nigeria, as well as the regional resource war that has developed around the Lake Chad Basin. It exposed the connections between individuals and networks both in Nigeria and Chad that are actively supporting and/or facilitating Boko Haram, and in doing so, participating in a dangerous game of regional destabilization. Naturally, the question becomes: why? In whose interests is this destabilization being carried out? What is the larger economic and geopolitical calculus at work? It is to these questions that we must now turn.
For at least the last 500 years, Europeans have looked to Africa as a potential source of wealth and power. From the earliest Portuguese expeditions up through the present day, the West has seen in Africa vast, and seemingly unlimited, riches. From gold, diamonds, and other precious materials, to energy and, impossible not to mention, human labor, the Europeans (and in recent times Americans) have swarmed Africa as the locusts of capitalism, stripping it of its wealth and then asking why Africa is so chaotic. Such cynical, and blatantly imperialist, ambitions have always lain at the center of Western strategy on the so-called “Dark Continent.” So too are they at the heart of the current situation in Nigeria, and West Africa generally.
In examining the complex web of relations connecting events in West Africa, a disturbing, though hardly surprising, trend appears: as Western geopolitical and economic interest in the region increases, so too does instability grow. While it may seem counter-intuitive, in fact this trend makes perfect sense. While the US and Europe invoke ad nauseam the term “stability,” the reality is that chaos and instability are perfectly suited for their neocolonial objectives.