Nigeria: Stealing Peace And Prosperity


July 3, 2012: Before you can fix a problem you must admit it exists. Thus the growing mention of corruption in Nigerian media is a positive sign. On the down side, all that reporting of inept and thieving government officials is disheartening. But at least it's no longer popular to blame "foreign colonialists" for all the bad habits (which existed before the colonial period and were largely suppressed while the colonial officials were in charge). Thus the more honest and efficient colonial era government is now seen by many as something to be emulated: but how? No one is going to invite foreigners back to run the place. Finding enough honest and capable Nigerians to do it is proving to be a very difficult chore. Increasingly, Nigerians are taking a close look at their habits and customs and are not pleased at what they see.

Government and independent investigators find that oil theft is increasing and is now costing the government over a billion dollars a month in lost revenue. It was government efforts to halt oil thefts in the Niger River delta that led to the discovery that a lot of these oil thefts (from tapping into oil pipelines) are carried out under the protection of military and political leaders (who get a cut of the proceeds). All forms of oil theft are believed to be well protected by millions of dollars a month in bribes to police, military, and government officials. Oil theft is still a major activity for the criminal gangs in Niger Delta and their secret allies in the government are not happy with the publicity. 

A side effect of the growing oil thefts is the increased amount of oil spilled into the Niger Delta waters during the process of tapping the pipelines. This is causing more poverty (fisherman cannot work) and illness (from drinking tainted water) and corrupt local officials have found it impossible to suppress news of these problems. The oil stealing activity has more than doubled in the past year, making the activity more obvious and increasing public outcry and calls for the government to do something.

Military and police efforts against Boko Haram in the north are putting a lot of strain on the security forces. So the army is moving thousands of additional troops to the north. Supplying troops for all the additional checkpoints and patrols, plus the growing number of raids, is wearing down the troops and police already there.

July 2, 2012: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri, Boko Haram is suspected in the murder, at night, of nine construction workers at a mosque.

June 30, 2012: In the northeastern city of Damaturu, police raided a Boko Haram hideout and killed three Islamic terrorists and arrested another. In the central Nigerian city of Jos, police disabled and removed a large bomb on a major road bridge outside the city.

June 29, 2012: With great fanfare police in the Niger Delta arrested Seifa Gbereke, leader of a small oil stealing gang, who was responsible for several explosions that shut down oil pipelines. Gbereke and his gang of eight men did not play well with others and thus had to be taken down. Oil thieves that keep a low profile and pay their bribes on time are rarely arrested. The security forces in the Niger Delta are believed to be largely compromised and exist mainly to arrest those oil thieves who refuse to pay for protection from the police and military.

June 27, 2012: In the northeast two days of violence left four policemen, four civilians, and 19 Boko Haram members dead. Recently Boko Haram has taken to making larger attacks, employing several dozen gunmen to attack police stations.

June 26, 2012: President Goodluck Jonathan fired the head of the state-owned oil company and several other senior executives as well. Replacements were quickly appointed and warned that corruption would not be tolerated. The firings were mostly about the ability of the dismissed executives to eliminate the massive corruption that has always existed in the state owned oil operations.



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