Nigeria: Religion and Corruption Fuel the Flames


September 24, 2006: Despite an effort to vaccinate all children against polio (and complete a worldwide campaign to destroy the disease), more cases of polio have appeared in the north. This is more a political and religious, than a medical problem. Moslem religious leaders have asserted that the vaccinations are a Christian plot to poison Moslems, and this delayed vaccinations for over a year, which allowed the disease to spread into areas where it had previously been eliminated. Despite government success in getting the major Moslem leaders to back the vaccinations, some clerics still believe the paranoid version of what the vaccinations are all about. Such attitudes fuel continued support of Islamic radicalism, including terrorism and hostility towards the Christian south.

September 23, 2006: Vigorous military and police efforts in the Delta region have reduced kidnappings and anti-government violence. But these actions have not captured many of the rebels, just chased them to new hiding places. The violence is expected to resume soon.

September 22, 2006: Over the last week, Moslem mobs have burned eleven Christian churches in the north, and caused thousands of Christians to flee their homes. Moslems were protesting alleged disrespect by Christians, and recent remarks by the pope, in which Islam was called a violent religion.

September 19, 2006: Government plans, to cut civil service jobs from 1.5 million to a million, are likely to cause some civil disorder. Government jobs have long been regarded as a source of patronage and corruption, and government reformers see the cuts as long overdue. This is likely to enflame many of those being dismissed, along with family members (which makes for several million unhappy people.)

September 18, 2006: An air force transport crashed in the south, killing 17, including eight major-generals and two brigadier-generals. This was a serious blow to the military, as the dead were among the most able officers in the armed forces. Poor discipline in the military has led to lower maintenance standards for military aircraft, than civilian aircraft.

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