For over two
weeks, fighting between rival oil stealing gangs has raged in the Niger Delta. Eventually,
the fighting, mainly a turf war, spread to Port Harcourt, the largest city in
the region. Oil theft is big business, with several hundred million dollars a
year reaching the gangs, and providing lucrative employment for thousands of
young men. There's so much money involved, and so many competing gangs, that
battles over lucrative pipeline locations (which are less guarded, and closer
to roads or waterways for moving the stolen oil) are increasing. The current
fighting has left dozens dead.
August 9, 2008: The number of
polio cases tripled in the last year, to over 500. This is the result of a five
year old effort by Islamic radicals in the north to halt polio vaccinations.
The radicals insist that this is actually a Western plot to poison Moslem
children. Religious and political leaders have denounced this, but many
superstitious parents continue to prevent their kids from getting vaccinated. This
is interfering with a decades old effort to totally eliminate polio (which only
survives in a human host) from the planet, as was done to smallpox three
August 8, 2008: A top development
official was arrested for stealing $4 million for an effort to use magic against
a rival bureaucrat. Half the money was burned in a ceremony meant to insure
that even more money would be obtained. Magic is very popular in Nigeria,
despite the fact that the majority of the population are Christian or Moslem.
People are regularly murdered because they are suspected of using black magic
to harm others.
August 3, 2008: News that the
government had paid $25 million to Niger Delta gangs, to assure the safety of
oil pipelines, turned out to be a scam. Most of the money was stolen by
security officials, who said they were handling the negotiations with the gangs
(who insist they didn't get the money, and make a lot more just stealing oil.)
Efforts to halt the corruption, that cripples the economy and impoverishes most
of the population, are not going well. The corrupt politicians have money, and
incentive, to defeat the anti-corruption forces. This is being done by bribing
as many government officials as possible, in order to get anti-corruption
officials harassed, demoted or fired. This is working. Money talks, even dirty
August 2, 2008: Two more foreign
oil workers were kidnapped in the Niger Delta.
July 29, 2008: In the Niger
Delta, fighting broke out between rival oil stealing gangs. At least two
gangsters, and one policemen, have died so far. The police tried to break up
the fighting, which involves a lot of shooting and threatens innocent
July 28, 2008: Two more attacks
on Niger Delta oil pipelines, and MEND took credit, while promising more damage
to the pipelines.
July 25, 2008: Eleven foreign oil
workers were kidnapped in three incidents. Over 200 have been taken, for
ransom, in the last two years.
For the second time in a week, an armed Nigerian nationalist group
attacked Cameroonian troops in the Bakassi peninsula. This oil rich area used
to be Nigerian, but an international court awarded it to Cameroon. Nigeria
handed it over two years ago, but some Nigerian groups have continued to fight
for a return to Nigerian rule.