Nigeria: War On Corruption Heats Up

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October 27, 2007: Some serious moves are being made against corrupt politicians. In the last week, judges have annulled the recent elections of two state governors, in addition to two more removed earlier. State politics is the most corrupt, with politicians forming their own armies and fixing the elections any way they can. All this is pretty blatant, and the federal government is finally cracking down on it. That has caused some problems at the national level. The national legislature is paralyzed by corruption charges against senior members. The problem is that the corruption is so pervasive that nearly everyone is tainted to some degree. Thus the policy is to go after the worst offenders, and try real hard to ignore the lesser thieves.

Corruption also causes major problems at the grass roots. For example, a group of soldiers in the Niger Delta, recently went to a fuel depot and demanded fuel for their vehicles. The attendants told them to see the manager, because there was paperwork associated with providing the military with "free" fuel. The soldiers were incensed, and began beating the attendants. Fuel truck drivers came to the aid of the attendants and the soldiers started shooting. Nine fuel trucks were destroyed by fire, and several civilians shot. In retaliation, fuel truck drivers throughout the region then went on strike, causing a fuel shortage at the gas stations. The fuel truck drivers are demanding restitution and punishment of the soldiers.

In the Niger Delta oil region, the local separatist groups are back to kidnapping. Family members, and even pets, of corrupt, but wealthy, politicians are a favorite target. But attacks on oil facilities have increased as well. The U.S. embassy warned Americans that oil facilities were going to be attack by MEND, the largest tribal separatist group in the delta. And this is exactly what happened, with boats full of armed men overpowering security at two offshore oil rigs, and taking away foreigners. Oddly enough, seven who were taken on the 21st, were freed on the 23rd. It's unclear why the men were freed so quickly. The army and navy have been quick to go after kidnappers, and they may have caught some of this particular crew, and quickly cut a deal.

In the Moslem north, famine and religious violence is added to the political corruption. Drought has destroyed much of the current crop, requiring food to be imported. Corrupt politicians usually grab much of the aid in situations like this, and everyone is watching to see what will happen. Islamic militants are attacking, and even killing, Christians in the north. It's not widespread, but it is happening, and happening more frequently.

 

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