So, I said I was going to finish the Nigerian Learn-A-Thon with what I could learn from quick perusal of the internet on the issues of the ethnic unrest in Jos and/or the Nigerian oil industry. What I realized is these are very big topics.
OIL, OIL EVERYWHERE, BUT….
When it comes to oil, it seems to me that something is just plain wrong when a country has an industry in the billions and a population that is so impoverished. Is it government corruption? Is it western exploitation? I’m pretty sure it’s both. It just seems like this is a recurring theme in Africa. Western companies — and China – and a few elites in a nation seem to get all the spoils while the labor sometimes isn’t even paid. I don’t know the ins and outs, obviously. I just know, there are gangs/militias in the delta who are fighting for a piece of the pie and, as you may see in the news from time to time, oil workers are often kidnapped and held for ransom.
I did learn something interesting. The provisional president, Goodluck Jonathan, just today fired the head of the state-run oil company and also appointed the first female oil minister. She is apparently from the oil industry and the daughter of a Shell (as in yeah, the gas station) company man. The oil companies are against a reform bill and are lobbying hard against it (what is this, America?) and — well, here, read this article and see what the different sides of the issue are. I don’t care what the investment is in infrastructure- I have no tolerance for any company making billions in a country where so many people are living on a dollar a day. There’s something wrong in the way they’re doing business. There has to be.
I’m going to reserve comment that an exec from Goldman Sachs has just been appointed finance minister. Maybe it’s a good thing- he probably knows money if he’s an exec with Goldman Sachs. Or then again…
Nigeria is a our fifth biggest source of oil.
JOS: BEYOND RELIGION
So, I learned geography plays a role in the “unrest” in Jos. It’s a central Nigerian city, between the Muslim north and Christian south. What I’ve read in a variety of articles, including some pretty clear ones at Time.com, the issue isn’t totally ‘religious war” but rather, it’s about two groups fighting over land, resources, and political rights. There is a system, for instance, where Muslims are considered “Settlers’ (second class citizens) even though they have lived in the region for decades. There is also a difference between nomads and farmers. Scarcity and poverty play a role. Well, read the article and see the details. Wow, I’m passing the buck a lot tonight!
It’s complicated, it seems. The violence in early March was apparently a Muslim retaliation for a Christian attack late in January. It doesn’t seem like this has been going on for all that long (there were other attacks in 2008) but it’s become a cycle- a horrible cycle where hundreds of people, including kids, are being murdered. There was even some violence in the last 24 hours. (This reminded me that the “underwear” bomber was from Nigeria.)
So, I’ll end the Learn-A-Thon here, but I’ll keeping reading and hopefully keep learning more about Nigeria. I think the main thing I learned was how much more there is to know about a nation of significant size and strategic importance.
Here’s one final interesting video.
Thanks for stopping by.