Nigeria: Oil Gangsters Get Political


December 25, 2005: A new terrorist group, calling itself the the Martyrs' Brigade, has taken credit for at least one of the recent bombings of oil pipelines in the Niger delta area. The twenty million people living in the delta have long resented the damage the oil operations have done, and the lack of benefit from the oil sales. But there has been economic benefit. Over a billion dollars a year flows into the area via illegal tapping of the oil pipelines, and selling the oil to smugglers. That has created dozens of powerful gangs, and thousands of well armed, and wealthy, oil gangsters. These are local guys, and all the money and power has led some of the lads to think big. As in revolution, and taking control of the oil. The government has brought in thousands of additional troops and police. But all those well paid, well armed and determined gangsters are not easily cowed, or pushed aside.

December 24, 2005: Both of the bombed oil pipelines, in the Niger delta region, have been repaired and put back into service. About eight percent of the country's oil production was interfered with while the two pipelines (one 24 inch, the other 28 inch) were repaired.

December 23, 2005: Several airliner crashes over the last few months has reminded Nigerians that the aircraft are often maintained with counterfeit parts and bribed safety inspectors. Corruption is common in Nigeria, and people cope by looking the other way. But it's hard to avoid all those airplane crashes. As a result, the normally heavy use of air travel during the Christmas season is down by more than half. Those aircraft that are operating, are taking off mostly empty. This makes the corruption an open issue once more. Everyone will talk about it, but so far, no one has been able to do much about it.

December 19, 2005: The government has grounded most of its civil aviation fleet, because of concerns over flight safety.

December 21, 2005: An oil pipeline in the Niger delta area was dynamited, killing eight people in the process.


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