Nigeria: "President-For-Life" versus the Oil Bandits



April 8, 2006: President Obasanjo is trying to amend the constitution so that he can run for a third term. The constitution limits a president to two terms because of the tendency of presidents to want to be "president-for-life." Opponents to Obasanjo's plan are threatening civil war over it. Obasanjo was elected in 1999 as a reform candidate, after 15 years of military dictatorship.

April 7, 2006: The Niger Delta oil gangs have threatened to kill anyone returning to oil facilities that have been recently abandoned because of the violence. About a quarter of Nigerian oil production is shut down because of the violence, and the armed forces say they will protect the closed facilities, and the oil companies are going to reoccupy one oil rig to see if that security guarantee is worth anything. Everyone is waiting for word from the capital that a deal has been struck.

April 6, 2006: The new commander of troops in the Niger delta has backed off from having his men fire on sight when encountering rebels. The problem is that the army and navy are outnumbered. Years of oil theft have left the local gangs well armed, and equipped with fast boats and plenty of land transportation. With nearly 500,000 barrels of production halted because the gangs have seized the facilities, the government appears willing to cut a deal, to give local officials, and gang leaders, part of the oil revenue, if the gangs will let full production resume. It's extortion, but that sort of thing is a common occurrence in Nigeria.

April 3, 2006: In the Niger Delta, troops and rebels fought a day long gun battle over possession of an oil pumping station.

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