Nigeria: The Triumph of Crime, Corruption and Disease

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July 1, 2006: So far this year, about 20 percent of the nation's oil production (500,000 barrels a day) is off line because of rebel violence in the Delta region. This includes the kidnapping of 29 foreign oil workers, blowing up of pipelines and pumping stations and a bad attitude in general. The lost oil production is worth about $12 billion a year. Some 95 percent of the foreign exchange earned by Nigeria comes from oil exports. No other export even comes close.

June 30, 2006:Once again, international health organizations are launching a mass immunization campaign, in an effort to eliminate the last major pool of polio cases. If all children can be immunized, polio can be eliminated. But two years ago, when this was attempted, Islamic clerics halted the immunizations, by claiming that the effort was an attempt to poison Moslems with Western medicines. Paranoia and suspicion are common in the Moslem north, and in this case enormously self-destructive as well. Immunizations were halted for eleven months, and during that time there were several outbreaks of polio. The disease then spread to other Moslem countries, where successful immunization programs had eliminated polio. Hundreds of children were killed, or paralyzed for life by polio, as a result. There was some backlash against the Islamic clergy in the north, but in the largely Christian south, there was much anger. Eventually, government officials convinced the Moslem clerics to shut up (some still believe that the immunizations are an attack on Islam).

June 28, 2006: MEND (The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) has declared war on the Delta region police. The MEND separatists are angry because the police killed three armed robbers last week, men that MEND considers members of MEND, at least on a part time basis (when they aren't engaged in armed robbery activities).

June 28, 2006:Opinion surveys indicate that 78 percent of Nigerians believe that corruption has increased since democracy was restored six years ago. Everywhere you turn, someone wants a bribe, or is willing to break the law for a price. While Nigerians recognize the problem, there has not been a massive movement to actually deal with it. Too many people talk of ridding the nation of corruption, but too few will take a stand and refuse to participate in these crimes.

June 26, 2006:The corruption and ineptitude of the police has made it possible for criminal gangs to take over and loot hospitals and colleges. While these institutions have security personnel, the gangsters arrive in overwhelming numbers, intimidate or kill security personnel, then loot the place, robbing students, patients and anyone else on the premises. This sort of thing only adds to the general lack of respect for government.

June 25, 2006:Two Filipino oil workers were released after being held for five days. Negotiations with tribal elders, who represented the kidnappers, led to an agreement on how much would be paid for the release of the two men.

 

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