Buhari: Nigeria has no business with D-8

President Muhammadu Buhari

…Nigeria’s oil sales suffer, US exports rise***

President Muhammadu Buhari’s attendance, late last month, at the ninth summit of the D-8 Organisation for Economic Cooperation, entrenched the Nigerian government’s disconcerting penchant for mixing governance with religion at all levels. Though couching its goals in economic aspirations, the D-8 remains an exclusive club of Islamic countries.

Since Nigeria’s constitution expressly forbids the promotion of any faith, it is time Nigeria reconsidered its membership of this and other overtly religious bodies.

The meeting was held in Istanbul, Turkey, with ministerial conferences scheduled for Nigeria this week. The summit’s theme, Expanding Opportunities through Cooperation, focused on mutual cooperation in agriculture, trade, transport, energy, and promotion of private sector activities in member countries.

Buhari reminded member heads of government at the event of the need to establish “integrated manufacturing structures” and attracting investment.

Even the official nomenclature of the group alluringly speaks of economic cooperation. For a country like Nigeria that seeks economic links, partners and investments wherever it can obtain favourable terms, it is tempting to view the D-8 as a laudable part of the country’s economic diplomacy.

But it is not. Past and contemporary realities tell a more nuanced story and dictate that we disengage from such organisations. Nigeria is not an Islamic state, nor is it tied to any other faith. Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution declares: “The Government of the Federation or of a State shall not adopt any religion as State Religion.”

The identity of the D-8 is not in doubt. It was the Sani Abacha military junta that dragged Nigeria into D-8, an organisation that expressly declared itself as “cooperation among major Muslim developing countries.”

The first step towards the establishment of D-8 was the “Conference on Cooperation for Development” organised in Istanbul on October, 22 1996 with the participation of Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt and Nigeria upon the invitation of Turkey. All these countries, except Nigeria, are Islamic republics.

It was officially established by the Summit of Heads of State/Government in Istanbul on 15 June 1997. It lists among its objectives “to improve developing countries’ positions in the world economy, diversify and create new opportunities in trade relations, enhance participation in decision-making at the international level, and provide better standard of living.

” It seeks to allay any apprehension by declaring: “D-8 is an economic-grouping with no adverse impact on bilateral and multilateral commitments of the member countries, emanating from their membership to other international or regional organisations.”

Certainly, whatever may be its declared objectives, the fact that it runs contrary to the Constitution renders Nigeria’s membership indefensible. According to the Pew Research Centre, a United States think tank, Bangladesh’s population of 163 million is 90 per cent Muslim, the same percentage as Egypt’s 95.69 million people; Indonesia’s 261.1 million people boast a Muslim majority of 87 per cent; Iran’s 80.28 million 98 per cent; Malaysia’s 31.19 million 61 per cent; Pakistan’s 193.2 million 97 per cent; and Turkey’s 79.51 million 99 per cent.

They are decidedly Muslim countries. Nigeria is the odd one in this group. Citing United Nations estimates (2011), the Global Christianity Index puts Nigeria’s population at 50.8 per cent Christian and 48 per cent Muslim.

The impunity started with the surreptitious ascension to full membership of the OIC in 1986 that provoked acrimony across the land. Nigeria has no business in a 57-member organisation that bills itself as “the collective voice of the Muslim world” with a mission to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world…” Continued membership of these two bodies is a gross violation of the rights of the over 90 million Nigerians who are not Muslims.

In the meantime, more than two dozen Nigerian crude oil cargoes were left unsold on Monday amid a supply glut of light sweet crude in the market.

Reuters reported that tenders to buy oil from companies in India and Indonesia helped to absorb some excess, but there were roughly 30 unsold Nigerian cargoes and a handful from Angola.

While Qua Iboe, Nigeria’s largest export grade, was offered at dated Brent plus $1.30, buyers said traded levels were likely to be lower because of an overall excess of light sweet oil.

There were also at least five cargoes of Forcados left, though several were partial cargoes.

Bonny Light, which had struggled with loading delays owing to pipeline issues, was offered at a premium of closer to $1 a barrel above dated Brent.

There were several cargoes of Agbami and Bonga left.

Meanwhile, US crude oil is flooding into Asia and may continue to do so as the arbitrage window that was initially created by Hurricane Harvey remains open, even though the disruption from the costliest storm to hit the Gulf of Mexico has faded, a columnist for Reuters, Clyde Russell, wrote on Monday.

A record amount of US crude is scheduled to arrive in Asia in November, according to vessel-tracking and port data compiled by Thomson Reuters Oil Research and Forecasts.

The data show 19.7 million barrels of US oil is due to arrive across Asia in November, equivalent to about 657,000 barrels per day.

This is more than a 50 per cent jump on the 427,000 bpd that was offloaded in Asia in October, and also above the previous record-high month for US crude shipments to Asia of 541,000 bpd from June.

The Energy Information Administration, the statistics arm of the US Energy Department, said the crude oil exports in the first half of 2017 increased by more than 300,000 bpd from the first half of 2016, reaching a record high of 900,000 bpd.

It said following the removal of restrictions on exporting US crude oil in December 2015, total volumes of crude oil exports and the number of destinations for those exports both increased. The US exported crude oil to 27 countries in the first half of 2017 compared with 19 countries in the first half of 2016.

Canada remained the largest recipient of US crude oil exports at 307,000 bpd, but imported an average of 63,000 bpd less compared with the first half of 2016. China increased its crude imports from the US by 178,000 bpd and became the second largest importer of US crude oil, averaging 186,000 bpd in the first half of the year.