Considering the unofficial and socio-cultural mood of the recent visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Nigeria, it will be analytically misleading to conclude that he came just to socialize with Nigerians.
This’ Macron’s first visit to Nigeria since his election in May 2017. Quartz Africa describes the visit as unconventional, anti-establishment and low in policy but high on culture.
This position is justified by the none inclusion of the visit on official government business and the absence of the regular pomp of a presidential welcome. Macron’s conspicuous trip to New Afrika Shrine, a concert venue in Lagos owned by the family of the Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, also explains this fact.
Why did Emmanuel Macron visit a Lagos nightclub? https://t.co/oZKryLE2rZ
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) July 10, 2018
But that visit has very much to do with French economic interests, which also depends on the security and politics around the Gulf of Guinea and the Sahelian zone.
Emmanuel Macron, notes that France cannot help Nigeria and Africa solve the problem of insecurity but will always intervene, in the fight against terrorism. In other words, France will only intervene in Nigeria or Africa on issues that threatens her interest and national security.
The question is, how is the Boko Haram terrorist activities a threat to French interests in Nigeria?
Emmanuel Macron Came to Lobby for French Economic Interest
Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO of TOTAL, one of the world’s leading energy companies attempts an answer to the above question. Prior to President Macron’s visit, Pouyanné, technically revealed the purpose of the visit through the tweet below;
🇫🇷🇳🇬 Heading to #Lagos where President @EmmanuelMacron will advocate for even stronger economic ties between #Nigeria & #France. Total will definitely be part of the momentum with our #Egina project! After start-up, @Total will operate 20% of the Nigerian #Oil production. pic.twitter.com/m0iNB56yRE
— Patrick Pouyanné (@PPouyanne) July 3, 2018
Nigeria has a maximum crude oil production capacity of 2.5 million barrels per day. In terms of ranking, she’s Africa’s largest producer of oil and the sixth largest global producer. It is equally a fact that Nigeria has more potentials in gas than in oil.
Consequently, TOTAL as an ambitious responsible Energy Major, has been very much present in the Nigerian oil industry. Nigeria, with its large market is also France’s largest trading partner in Africa. About 120 French businesses and companies are currently active in the country.
Statistics show that French investment in Nigeria in 2017 alone, amounts to more than N150 Billion. Nigerian businesses are increasingly seeking partnerships with these French businesses that add value to the diversification drive. The objective is to improve the quality of non-oil exports.
It’s obviously evident that these companies, including TOTAL have huge capital investments in Nigeria. These investments require protection amidst rising regional insecurity around the Gulf of Guinea.
Cameroon conflict threatens French Economic interest
Reports say Macron’s visit, was also to lobby the Buhari Administration for assistance to crush Anglophone Separatists in Cameroon. Cameroon, is in conflict with separatists in its two English-speaking regions, after mismanaging a civil unrest in late 2016.
French Secretary of state for Foreign Affairs visited the region under threatening security, before Macron traveled to Nigeria. Macron, on his part talked with the President Paul Biya of Cameroon on possible resolutions to the conflict.
The visit to Nigeria by President Emmanuel Macron (whether official or unofficial) was therefore very economically strategic. Intervening in regional security threats and not in internal issues like Fulani-Farmer clashes is purely for French economic interest.
France – Afrique … cette caricature qui n'en est même pas une… pic.twitter.com/WDlfotTh
— Feyz (@FeyzBelha) January 9, 2012
France is the only former colonialist with very strong neo-colonial influence on her former colonies. Not intervening in the anti-terrorism fight and insecurity in the sub-region will put her investments in Nigeria at stake. It will also destabilize her former colonies which serve as sources of economic stabilization for the home economy. This is true on the bases of the post-colonial France/Afrique arrangement.