Nigeria: We Have Met the Enemy, And It Is Us


December25, 2006: Responding to the increased rebel violence in the Niger Delta, some oil companies are evacuating the families of foreign workers. Rebels attacks are, month by month, shutting down more production. MEND is getting more skillful and better organized in their attacks. The use of cell phone triggered car bombs, and the ability to get these vehicles into heavily guarded compounds, are examples of this. MEND is also refraining from killing innocent civilians, which means they remain popular, while still terrorizing the government. The bombs destroy the luxurious cars and facilities of the government and oil companies. Pictures of the bomb effects in the media make it clear where the oil money is going. The Ijaw tribes that MEND represents live in extreme poverty, amidst billions of dollars worth of oil production facilities. The government has a hard time addressing this problem, because local officials (often Ijaws) who get money for local projects, too often steal it. Corruption is a major problem, and MEND is no paragon of virtue either. The key people in MEND are leaders of criminal gangs (that steal oil) and politicians who, in most cases, would be as corrupt as the others, if they got into power. That's the real tragedy of Nigeria, the shortage of honest politicians. At least more Nigerians recognize this problem now, but getting enough honest politicians to show up and run the government efficiently, is another matter. Currently, corrupt politicians think nothing of just switching parties, or forming new ones, and running for office again, while they fight off weak prosecutions for past crimes. Nationwide, however, there is growing popular anger at the corruption and poverty, and the fact that, "we have met the enemy, and it is us."

December 23, 2006: A car bomb went off outside the governors office in the Niger Delta. There were no injuries, but this was the first time a government facility was attacked by MEND. A second bomb malfunctioned, according to an email from MEND.

December 22, 2006: MEND rebels will not accept ransom for the four foreign oil workers they are holding. This time, MEND wants its political demands ( release of two of their leaders, and aid projects for the Delta region) met. Negotiators are confident they can eventually buy the freedom of the four captives, because the government is very unlikely to release the imprisoned MEND leaders.

December 21, 2006: Three policemen died repulsing attacks on two oil facilities in the Niger Delta. As a result, the oil company closed the facilities, halting 96,000 barrels of daily production (about two billion dollars a year in oil sales.)

December 18, 2006: Car bombs, triggered by cell phone, went off in two oil company compounds in the Niger Delta region. There were no casualties, and that was on purpose, as the MEND rebel group said they did want to kill anyone. MEND said they called off a third bombing because of the possibility of fatalities. MEND wants more oil money going to the people in the Niger Delta.




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