Nigeria: November 17, 2003

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A dozen oil workers were released by Ijaw tribesmen who had seized last week. The oil companies paid off the tribesmen with cash and jobs (some real, some just make-work). The oil companies in the Niger delta spend over $60 million a year on bribes and social welfare programs to try and keep the peace in an area that gets little attention from the federal or state government. The locals know that the oil brings much wealth to someone, and that they don't get any of the benefit, but do have to put up with the smell and disruption of oil drilling. But even the social spending has not been able to buy protection for oil workers. So about 140,000 barrels a day of production has been halted for four months so far with no resumption in sight. Police and troops have not been able to insure peace, for the tribesmen operate in the jungles and marshes that security forces from outside the area are unfamiliar with. Another problem is that the corruption is so widespread that even  government efforts to spend more of the oil money on local needs doesn't work. Most of the money is stolen before it can get to the villages, and the people who are carrying out the attacks against the oil operations. 

 

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