The growing kidnappings in the south
has become another source of corruption. Some of the kidnappers are complaining
that government officials, who usually negotiate the ransoms, are taking too
large a cut for themselves, leaving the kidnappers with too little. There is
even competition among government and military officials to become the
negotiator, because of the easy money. Thus corruption even gets to
rebels fighting to free their people from corrupt rule.
July 17, 2007: Five former governors have been
jailed, and are being prosecuted for corruption. Several dozen lesser officials
are also accused. The anti-corruption force is under great pressure from
corrupt officials still in office (and thus immune from prosecution) to back
off. So far, the prosecutions are moving forward.
July 16, 2007: AIDS is spreading rapidly
through the armed forces. This is as a result of East African peacekeepers,
infected with AIDs, serving with Nigerian troops, in Liberia. All the soldiers
used the same prostitutes, and soon everyone had AIDS. Nigerian soldiers are
dismayed at this aftereffect of peacekeeping duty, and blame their commanders
for allowing it to happen. About four percent of Nigerian adults have AIDS, but
the rate in the military is believed to be over ten percent. It's much worse,
often over 50 percent, in other African armies. Only Uganda has managed to
bring its military AIDS rate down below ten percent, and that involved more
discipline among the troops than most African armies are capable of.
July 13, 2007: The latest three year old
kidnap victim was released. A $390,000 ransom was demanded. The
kidnappings are not slowing down, despite government efforts to stop it. Oil
companies are hiring their own security, and offering bonuses to soldiers and
police assigned to guard company facilities. If the security forces keep the
kidnappers out, they get their bonus. Otherwise, the soldiers and cops will
often run away if a kidnapping gang shows up.
July 11, 2007: For the fourth time in two
months, kidnappers have grabbed a three year old child in the south. This time,
it's the son of a local chief.
July 9, 2007: Kidnappers were repulsed by
soldiers guarding an oil installation, with one killed and two arrested.
July 8, 2007: After four days, and a public
uproar, kidnappers released a three year old British girl. The parents insisted
that no ransom was paid, although money was sought. Meanwhile, two more oil
installations were attacked, and two more foreigners (and two Nigerians)