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The newly elected government is
generally considered illegitimate, because of the rigged recent elections. No
one expects the corruption and weak economic growth to go away. But the corrupt
leaders believe they can keep the game going, by buying the support of some,
and using violence to keep everyone else in line. This works in Africa, except
in places where the opposition get enough money to buy lots of guns. The Niger
delta bandits, however, are piling up lots of cash from kidnapping and theft
(mainly of oil). A lot of that money goes into buying guns, cars and speed
boats. That might seem scary for the politicians, except that the oil producing
region only contains fifteen percent of the nations population. The rest of the
country would meet violence with violence is it came to a fight over the oil.
This is not speculation. There have been civil wars in Nigeria before, and the outnumbered
May 19, 2007: Despite increased security,
kidnappers grabbed three more foreign oil workers. So far this month, 30
foreign oil workers have been kidnapped. This has been accompanied by more
attacks on the police, leaving several dozen dead this month alone, mostly in
the Delta region.
May 16, 2007: The newly elected
vice-president, Goodluck Jonathan, is from the Delta oil region, and a
large group of armed men attacked his mansion and blew it up. Jonathan, the
local governor, is considered one of the corrupt politicians responsible for
the sorry state of the country.
May 15, 2007: The continuing attacks and
kidnappings have caused the oil industry to keep increasing their security.
There are fewer supply boats going out to offshore rigs, but they are carrying
more stuff per trip, including more armed guards. This leaves it to the
kidnappers to come on in larger numbers, and with more firepower.
May 14, 2007: China launched a communications
satellite for Nigeria. China is a major supplier of launch services for other
nations satellites, but this is the first time that China supplied the
satellite as well. The NIGCOMSAT 1 satellite cost $311 million to build and launch and
provides expanded cell phone and Internet services in Africa.