Nigeria: Less Violence, Not Peace


November 19, 2009: The end of the fighting has allowed oil shipments to increase from 1.8 million barrels a day, to 2.2 million. With a year or so of peace, that could be increased to 3.7 million barrels a day. The previous peak was 2.6 million barrels a day three years ago. It's going to be difficult to get back to 2.6 million, because many of the oil stealing gangs have not accepted the amnesty. These fellows have grown rich by stealing oil, and staying out of the revolution business.  While MEND and their ilk stole oil to finance their revolution, the hard core oil thieves stole oil to make lots of money. The military concentrated their efforts on the oil thefts by the rebel groups, giving the non-political oil stealing gangs an edge. So oil facilities are still being damaged, so the gangs can steal oil.

Despite several years of energetic anti-corruption efforts, the situation appears to be getting worse. The latest international corruption rankings show Nigeria falling from 121st least corrupt, to 142nd.

The war in the Delta will start up again if the government does not bring some economic improvements to the region real quick. So far, there has been little economic progress. If this continues for a few more months, there will be blood. Already, many of the former rebels are returning to crime. Kidnapping is way up, as are most other types of crimes.

Growing religious intolerance in the north, where Islamic conservatives are pushing the use Islamic law (Sharia), and insisting that it apply to non-Moslems as well. After independence in the 1960s, northern leaders stressed separation of church and state and tolerance for all. This led to millions of Christian and Moslem Nigerians migrating to parts of the country where they were a religious minority. But in the last decade, with the rise of Islamic radicalism, this has backfired. A dozen (all in the north) of Nigeria's 36 states have adopted Sharia. This was done by popular demand, as a way to deal with the corruption and government inefficiency. But Sharia did not solve those problems, and has created new ones. More people want to get rid of Sharia (as was done a century ago), but many still want to keep Islamic law.

October 25, 2009: MEND agreed to restore the ceasefire, and have peace talks with the government. Too many rebel groups accepted the amnesty program, thus sharply reducing the number of rebel gunmen. MEND realized that if they continued to fight, they would be at an even greater disadvantage versus the armed forces.





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