With a population of 200 million people, a GDP of $1.07 trillion (PPP), the world's 10th proven largest oil reserve (40 billion barrels), the estimated value of $6 trillion, Nigeria is a top-tier nation by all accounts. It will be the 3rd largest nation on earth in 25 years. It will have more Christians and more Muslims than any other country in the world.
And if it can get its socioeconomic act together, it may also be the continent's first superpower. Nigeria's vulnerability stems from the fact that 90% of its oil is derived from offshore oil platforms out at sea. A country like Nigeria should have a modern blue-water navy. It is criminal negligence not to. Yes, the Navy is working towards reviving its capability, but looking at potential adversaries, that may not be enough.
Photo: Nigerian Navy frigate
Nigeria will never be able to match the Navies of potential adversaries like the French navy, who by the way is leading a multinational naval exercise right now in the Gulf of Guinea, giving them unfettered access to our naval bases, ports, organization, mode of operation, etc. If the unthinkable happens, Nigeria can be subject to naval blackmail. In a hypothetical scenario, let's say tensions with Cameroon escalate and a shooting war ensues, France is by treaty obligated to come to the aid of Cameroon.
Photo: Different ships own by Nigerian Navy
In such a scenario they need not exchange blows directly with Nigerian forces and risk global condemnation. All they need do is hold our oil infrastructure hostage. Forget about surface forces, a French submarine in the Gulf of Guinea is all it would take to force us to the negotiating table. It's a bitter pill to swallow but we are this vulnerable. The acquisition of the new Frigate and two OPVs will not change the tactical realities on the ground.
Photo: Oil rig
But it is not a hopeless situation. The first thing Nigeria can do to mitigate this nightmarish scenario is to stop pretending it is not a top-tie nation and relegate itself to the level of tiny insignificant states and as such maintain a military commensurate with a small insignificant state. We cannot hide a trillion-dollar economy, a demographic hammer, cultural influence, and the world's 10th largest oil reserve.
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