The oil companies in the Niger River Delta, despite hiring thousands of
security guards, are still suffering attacks on their boats and having foreign
workers kidnapped. There are several attacks a week, and one or two foreign oil
workers is kidnapped for ransom each week. The oil stealing gangs are growing in size,
and that means more young men moving about the Delta in speedboats, armed with
AK-47s, machine-guns and RPGs. These guys are poorly trained as fighters, but
believe their own PR and are fearless, at least initially, when they run into military
or police patrol boats (which usually have more, and larger caliber, machine-guns,
and personnel better trained to use them.) The surviving gang members will
usually get away, but will not be discouraged. This aggressive attitude makes
it difficult for the security forces to control the gangs, who are also very
popular with the local population because the gangs spread their millions
around, and hire locally. Many of the military personnel are from other parts
of the country.
government talks of spending more money in the Delta, there has been no visible
evidence of increased spending over the last few years. These have been no more
arrests of senior government officials for embezzlement. There is also very
visible affluence among senior officials, in the form of luxurious new homes
being built, and new cars to move their guys, their families and bodyguards, around. But the
oil gangs can also afford new trucks and SUVs, and sometimes fill them with
gunmen, drive to some public event, put on a firepower display, and drive off
before the police can do anything about it.
become a major problem, with officials able to identify nearly 300 attacks in
the last five years. Many of the attacks are on the fishing trawlers that work
along the coast, and as a result, over 40 percent of these trawlers have gone
out of business (reducing the trawler fleet from 250 boats to 170). In the last
year, there have been some weeks in which there were over a dozen boat
attacked. The media makes much of attacks on oil industry boats, but the most
frequent targets have been the unarmed and unguarded fishing boats.
Ribadu, the highly successful anti-corruption official, who was removed from
his job by the newly elected government last year, has apparently fled the
country, fearing for his life. The influence of so many corrupt politicians,
and former politicians, was greater than the support of anti-corruption groups
inside and outside the government. This is a clear defeat for efforts to
prosecute corrupt officials, and use the oil wealth for useful purposes, rather
than just making a few thousand politicians rich. The corruption manifests itself
in so many ways, like the lack of good roads or irregular electricity supply.
Corruption in the educational sector results in most Nigerians being
illiterate, even though most, on paper, have access to school. But primary
school funds are often stolen, and the schools a sham. At the university level,
grades are for sale, and a third or more of the graduates are unqualified (as
foreign employers are constantly reminded.)
presidential elections were widely seen as dirty, with corrupt politicians
uniting to get Atiku Abubakar elected, and obligated to them. In the past week,
supreme court narrowly (4-3) defeated an attempt to nullify the election. Abubakar
says the right things, but his actions leave the major corrupt politicians
alone. But this means that no progress is being made it dealing with the unrest
in the Niger Delta, and that oil exports will continue to decline because the
security forces are unable to destroy the oil stealing gangs.
2008: In the central Nigerian city of Jos, recent tribal and religious violence
has left over a hundred thousand people short of food and other supplies.
That's because the fighting destroyed the major market in the town, and new
supplies have to be trucked in for the 7,000 refugees from the violence living
in camps outside the town, as well as for those who did not flee.