despair of ever having honest and efficient government. After decades of trying
to get honest leaders, the murderous
response of so many senior politicians, to anti-corruption efforts, is
demoralizing. While many politicians are being prosecuted, too many are
successfully using bribes, threats or violence to avoid conviction or
punishment. Then there was the recent dismissal of eleven members of the
anti-corruption commission (the EFCC, or Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission), for corruption.
In the Niger river delta oil region, the oil theft gangs have become
more violent, and are demonstrating their wealth by using more advanced weapons
(machine-guns, RPGs and anti-tank missiles). Apparently the gunrunners have
established lucrative connections with the gangs, and business is brisk. Casualties
are up as well, with some days seeing several dozen dead and wounded because of
clashes between security forces and oil gangs.
Christians, who comprise about half the population, are pressing the
government to do something about Islamic militants, who have recently burned
down another church in Kwara State. There, more Moslems are converting to
Christianity, angering Islamic conservatives. In this case, Islamic militants
complained that a new Christian church was too close (about 500 meters) to a
The recent kidnapping of an Israeli businessman in the delta got a lot
of publicity, because of the possible Islamic terrorist connection. But this
was one of some 200 kidnappings of foreign workers in the delta in the last two
years. Foreign business are less eager to operate in Nigeria, because of the
growing crime rate, and the higher costs of dealing with it.
September 2, 2008: Police
arrested an American film maker in the Niger river delta oil region, and
accused him of spying. The government is hostile to foreign journalists and
film makers who want to publicize what is going on in the delta. The American was
later released after U.S. diplomats raised a stink.
August 29, 2008: A tenth former
state governor has been arrested for corruption while he was in office (from
August 28, 2008: The new
commander of the armed forces has pledged to restore the discipline in the
military. This was lost in the 1990s, during the military dictatorship. The
army was used to keep the generals in power, and given the authority to do
whatever it took. Many soldiers became little different than bandits. They took
what they wanted, and were above the law. It was hard to re-adjust after
democracy returned in 1999. Now, nine years later, the army is trying to get
its act together.
August 26, 2008: An Israeli businessman
was kidnapped in Port Harcourt (in the delta). Such kidnappings are common
enough, but the Israeli embassy is all over this because Islamic terrorists
have been seeking to kill or kidnap Israelis overseas. So the Israeli
government is interested in finding out who did the kidnapping, as well as
getting the victim released. The kidnappers soon demanded a $12 million ransom.
The victim was released a week later, after a ransom was apparently paid. Hezbollah
was not involved.
August 25, 2008: In the Niger
river delta, rebels seized an oil company supply ship, and its eight man crew.
Much of the transportation needs of the oil industry in the delta is by ship.