Nigeria: Stagger On


June 30, 2007: The mayhem in the Niger Delta is costing about $4.4 billion in damages and lost revenue each year. But the loss is just shrugged off as a cost of doing business. The corrupt leadership is nothing if not adaptable. The Nigerian people are still doing most of the suffering. The shut down oil production means there is less money to steal. The growing number of kidnappings means more jobs for bodyguards and security personnel. The tribe based gangs in the Niger Delta are evolving into businesses, based on intimidation, theft and corruption. The inability of anyone to get really organized means there is unlikely to be a unified and effective rebellion. The system just staggers, with individuals and small groups grabbing what they can.

June 29, 2007: The three year old son of a politician was released after a ransom of $102,000 was paid.

June 27, 2007: The NDMFS (Niger Delta Militant Force Squad) admitted it had kidnapped six Russians, and was demanding $471,000 for their release. Another group has grabbed the three year old son of a Niger Delta politician. The kidnappers invaded the nursery school the boy was attending.

June 26, 2007: It's all about money now. Alhaji Muhajeed Dokubo-Asari, leader of the NDPVF (Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force) demanded $1.1 million before his group would surrender their weapons. That sum would compensate the rebels for what it cost them to buy they weapons. The NDPVF has not gone into the kidnapping business, but insists on more corruption prosecutions.

June 24, 2007: The national strike ended after four days. There was a compromise, with the price of fuel going up only 8 percent (to about $2.15 a gallon.) The government oil price hike united the country like nothing else. But the national strike was even more unpopular, shutting down many essential services.

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