Strikes by oil workers has halted
more oil production than years of theft and attacks by gangsters and tribal
separatists. An eight day strike shut down 800,000 barrels a day, while years
of efforts by gangs and militants cut about 500,000 barrels. The strike ended
after the workers, already the highest paid group in the oil region (except possibly
or the oil thieves) got a raise.
dangerous losses are the 100-200,000 barrels a day stolen by gangs that tap
into pipelines and sell the crude to brokers who smuggle the stuff out of the
country. Some of the oil gangs have branched out into politics, using their
tribal connections to claim the status of political activists (to get more of
the oil money for the local Ijaw tribes.) That aspect of the unrest in the oil
region is more posturing for the media (as the MEND organization), than actions
that actually halt oil production. The government has sent thousands of
soldiers, sailors and police to the Niger Delta region to guard oil facilities.
elected national government has accused former president Olusegun Obasanjo's government
of being corrupt, lawless and inept. Obasanjo's daughter, Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello,
has been indicted for corruption, and many other instances of government funds
disappearing have come to light. Olusegun Obasanjo was elected in 1999 to
revive the country after decades of corrupt military rule. He left office last
year. Obasanjo did have to deal with a lot of corrupt politicians, and a
culture of corruption, that is now starting to fade under pressure from reformers.
problem is the lawlessness and inability of elected officials, or government
employees, to deliver services. Too much, if not most, of the oil revenue is
stolen, creating family fortunes that fund gangs of armed men, lawyers and
publicists who will fight to defend the corrupt system. The
anti-corruption/good-government crowd is making progress, but there is
resistance, and the corrupt practices are still in place.