Nigeria: Misery


February 15, 2013: Four years of growing Boko Haram terrorism has hurt the economy in the north. Fear of going to markets, bars, and cinema plus the curfews and periods of closed borders with Niger, Cameroon, and Chad have cut GDP in some northern cities, like Kano, by over ten percent. All this is causing increasing economic and emotional distress for many northerners. Business has also been disrupted by the departure of many Christians from the north. The violence is not that common in the north as a whole but the shootings and bombings that do occur get a lot of publicity and this creates fear in some major cities. While people are angry at Boko Haram for all of this, there remains much of the older dissatisfaction with the corrupt and inefficient government.

There are a growing number of pirate attacks in the south, against the many cargo and oil-industry ships operating off the Niger River Delta. In one eight day period this month there were three attacks that left three dead. The gunfire is largely the result of many ships having armed guards while operating near the Nigerian coast. Otherwise there would be a lot more robberies and kidnappings. So far the armed guards have largely worked, with many pirate attacks prevented or repulsed because of the presence of armed security.

February 9, 2013:  In the north (Kaduna state) police arrested eight Boko Haram suspects at a checkpoint when bomb building materials were found in their vehicle.

February 8, 2013: In the north three attacks on Polio vaccination operations left ten dead, including three North Korean and six Nigerian vaccination workers. The three North Korean doctors were working as medical contractors supplied by the North Korean government and spent only part of their time on polio matters. North Korea supplies cheap labor all over the world, keeping most of the pay for these people. There are few defections by their overseas workers because the North Korean government holds family members of the workers hostage back in North Korea. If the worker flees, their family goes to prison.

Decades of effort to eradicate polio are still being compromised by Islamic radicals in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. There are only small populations in India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria where polio is still found. In Nigeria Islamic conservatives up north have been preaching against polio vaccinations for years (on the assumption that the medicine is actually a Christian plot to poison Moslems). Polio can be wiped out, like smallpox was back in the 1970s, if you can vaccinate everyone in areas where the disease still exists (as polio and smallpox are diseases that can only live in human hosts). But the Islamic conservatives have been a major barrier to eliminating polio. The current wave of Islamic conservatism was only getting started back in the 1970s, and it continues to grow. The government is making yet another effort to wipe out polio in the Moslem north. Boko Haram is actively opposing this because some in Boko Haram do see the polio vaccinations as part of a war against Islam. Some members of Boko Haram understand that the polio vaccination campaign actually reduces the number of children getting polio but are unwilling to get into a fight over this with their more fanatical fellow Islamic radicals.




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