Nigeria: Snatching Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory


October 13, 2009: The amnesty program is having an effect on oil production, with it increasing each week. Officials soon expect to be able to ship Nigeria's current OPEC allocation of 1.8 million barrels a day. This would mean several hundred million dollars of additional revenue to the government each month.

The amnesty program brought in over 14,000 fighters. The government was not prepared for that many (10,000 was the official goal). Only 35-40 percent of those surrendering, brings along a weapon, indicating that many of the amnesty seekers are very recent recruits for the rebels. The larger number of people surrendering will mean delays, of up to six months, in processing them and paying the benefits.

While some MEND factions refused to surrender, and threaten to resume attacks when the ceasefire ends on the 15th, the rebels will be at a big disadvantage. The amnesty brought in a lot of fighters, along with nearly 3,000 guns and dozens of speedboats. Meanwhile, the military has brought in reinforcements, and is stronger than ever. Thus any MEND resumption of attacks would lead to even more damaging military operations in response. But that may not last, as the usual ineptitude of the government is manifesting itself in how the amnesty and rehabilitation program is being run. The former rebels are not all being provided with the housing and cash they were promised, and many are already muttering about going back to "the creeks" (of the Niger Delta) and resuming their precarious life of stealing oil and crime in general. While a major resumption of MEND violence would see the rebels operating at a disadvantage because of the amnesty, there are still millions of unemployed young men in the Delta, who might see the gangster life as a viable option. If the government does manage to screw up the amnesty program, it will be another case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

October 6, 2009:  Customs officials discovered and seized a 40 foot cargo container full of weapons. It was apparently intended for some politician, so he could arm the criminal gangs that are used to coerce voters to elect corrupt politicians. The cargo container came from the United States. Four months ago, two small cargo ships full of weapons were seized off the coast, while a third ship escaped. There's big money to be made smuggling weapons into Nigeria, as a large chunk of the oil money stolen goes to buy weapons, so the thieves can hang on to their loot.




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