Nigeria: July 1, 2002


In the first three months of the year, 19.3 billion barrels of oil were exported. Royalties and fees on these exports brought the government 402 million dollars. But little of this money finds its way to the Nigerians living in the coastal region where the oil wells and pumping facilities are. For decades, this money has been used, by whichever military or elected leader of the country was in power, as patronage. The money was paid out to the leaders of the many ethnic and religious factions that make up the nation, in an attempt to keep everyone happy. This sort of works on a national scale, but does little locally. Not much of the oil money gets down to the average Nigerian. This has led to an ongoing shake down racket in the oil producing regions, where the locals compete to think up forms of demonstration that the local police and army troops can't stop and will force the oil companies to pay up. The local government will only offer police violence, but the oil companies will pay, and write it off as a cost of doing business in a place like Africa. 


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