Nigeria: Bad Money Talks And Wins

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August 11, 2008:  For over two weeks, fighting between rival oil stealing gangs has raged in the Niger Delta. Eventually, the fighting, mainly a turf war, spread to Port Harcourt, the largest city in the region. Oil theft is big business, with several hundred million dollars a year reaching the gangs, and providing lucrative employment for thousands of young men. There's so much money involved, and so many competing gangs, that battles over lucrative pipeline locations (which are less guarded, and closer to roads or waterways for moving the stolen oil) are increasing. The current fighting has left dozens dead.

August 9, 2008: The number of polio cases tripled in the last year, to over 500. This is the result of a five year old effort by Islamic radicals in the north to halt polio vaccinations. The radicals insist that this is actually a Western plot to poison Moslem children. Religious and political leaders have denounced this, but many superstitious parents continue to prevent their kids from getting vaccinated. This is interfering with a decades old effort to totally eliminate polio (which only survives in a human host) from the planet, as was done to smallpox three decades ago.

August 8, 2008:   A top development official was arrested for stealing $4 million for an effort to use magic against a rival bureaucrat. Half the money was burned in a ceremony meant to insure that even more money would be obtained. Magic is very popular in Nigeria, despite the fact that the majority of the population are Christian or Moslem. People are regularly murdered because they are suspected of using black magic to harm others.

August 3, 2008: News that the government had paid $25 million to Niger Delta gangs, to assure the safety of oil pipelines, turned out to be a scam. Most of the money was stolen by security officials, who said they were handling the negotiations with the gangs (who insist they didn't get the money, and make a lot more just stealing oil.) Efforts to halt the corruption, that cripples the economy and impoverishes most of the population, are not going well. The corrupt politicians have money, and incentive, to defeat the anti-corruption forces. This is being done by bribing as many government officials as possible, in order to get anti-corruption officials harassed, demoted or fired. This is working. Money talks, even dirty money.

August 2, 2008: Two more foreign oil workers were kidnapped in the Niger Delta.

July 29, 2008: In the Niger Delta, fighting broke out between rival oil stealing gangs. At least two gangsters, and one policemen, have died so far. The police tried to break up the fighting, which involves a lot of shooting and threatens innocent civilians.

July 28, 2008: Two more attacks on Niger Delta oil pipelines, and MEND took credit, while promising more damage to the pipelines.

July 25, 2008: Eleven foreign oil workers were kidnapped in three incidents. Over 200 have been taken, for ransom, in the last two years.

For the second time in a week, an armed Nigerian nationalist group attacked Cameroonian troops in the Bakassi peninsula. This oil rich area used to be Nigerian, but an international court awarded it to Cameroon. Nigeria handed it over two years ago, but some Nigerian groups have continued to fight for a return to Nigerian rule.

 

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