Nigeria: Colonialism Returns By Popular Acclaim

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April 7, 2007: There are a growing number of stories in the Nigerian media expressing doubts about the ability of Nigerians to solve their political and economic problems. The major problem is corruption, and the eagerness of even the best regarded elected leaders, to shirk their responsibilities and concentrate on stealing the wealth they have been entrusted with. A recent example of this can be seen in the provincial and national elections scheduled for April 14 and 21. Preparations are apparently poorly organized. This is believed the result of incumbent politicians trying to insure they will be reelected. There is a growing use of heavily armed gangs to coerce people to vote for the guy who sponsors the gang with stolen public money. Public utilities don't work, the most noticeable being the electricity supply, which regularly goes off for hours at a time. Crime is rampant, and many of the police are more interested in stealing, than in catching crooks. There are efforts to curb the corruption, and each successful move in that direction is big news. But overall, the crooks appear to be winning.

April 5, 2007: In the Niger Delta, the oil companies, particularly Shell, have reached agreement with tribal, political and criminal organizations, so that they can resume production in the western part of the Niger Delta. Over the last year, 500,000 barrels a day of production has been halted. This was mainly because of attacks on oil facilities by political organizations like MEND. But the halt in production did not help the locals, or MEND. Thousands of locals lost their jobs because of the suspended oil extraction and pumping to the coastal terminal, where tankers pick it up. MEND supports itself through oil theft (by punching holes in the pipelines, and stealing the leaking oil), as do many purely criminal gangs. But with no oil being pumped, there was none to steal. The lost production also meant that the oil companies and the government were losing $30 million a day in revenue. The government was unable to must sufficient military, police or political power to pacify the area. So the oil companies went and negotiated their own deals. The pitch was pretty blunt, if you want the oil flow turned back on, the tribes, rebel organizations and gangs will have to agree to allow that to happen. How much money this is costing the oil companies is not known. The oil companies believe it will take about five months to repair damage and get full production going again. What is ominous here is that the government had little to do with this deal. In the past, the oil companies have made many similar, but smaller, deals with unhappy locals. But now the oil companies are doing this sort of thing on a much larger scale. The locals prefer to work with the foreign oil companies because the company executives are not corrupt, as well as being more efficient that government officials.

April 4, 2007: Four kidnapped foreigners were released after ransoms were paid.

April 2, 2007: Two more foreign workers were kidnapped in the Niger Delta. Over 70 have been grabbed so far this year.

March 31, 2007: Gunmen in speedboats boarded an off shore oil rig and kidnapped a British oil worker. This one was not political, but for ransom. This makes four foreign oil workers (two Chinese and one Dutch) held captive in the Niger Delta.

 

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