Sunday, June 18, 2006

Nigeria roundup, 6/18

  • HUGE NEWS (sorry it took me so long to report on it): President Obasanjo may pardon the playright Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others (all from Ogoniland) who were convicted and executed under the late General Sani Abacha's regime for what amounted to trumped up murder charges. Royal Dutch Shell has been broadly criticized as having had a part in their execution.
  • An AP retrospective by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo on his last seven years in power. It's very favorable to the president -- Mr. Obasanjo blames all current problems on 45 years of military rule.
  • The Tide (Nigeria) published an "op-ed" by a Rivers State official backing common-sense economic development in the most impoverished, yet ironically wealthiest region in Nigeria: the Niger Delta (Rivers State is in the Delta region.) Obasanjo has taken the lead in meeting with Niger Delta officials toward this end, but his efforts will be in vain without the involvement and commitment of petroleum industry majors such as Royal Dutch Shell. Shell recently refused to obey a Nigerian court order to pay $1.5 billion in environmental cleanup fees to Niger Delta residents. Reinvigorating the Niger Delta is critical to Nigeria and to global oil markets. This Vanguard (Nigeria) "viewpoint" gets the gist. Quote [emphasis mine]:
    In a day and time when the multinational oil companies are applying 4D techniques in the exploration and production of oil, one would have expected that the Federal Government and the multinationals in all their wisdom and experience upgrade their techniques in human relations and profit sharing by getting the third partner involved who happens to be the host area. Instead a flood of words rather than deeds has inundated the dry desert of expectations.
  • The South African Broadcasting Corporation reports that President Obasanjo's PDP party has split over the party's attempt to institute a change to the Nigerian constitution that would have permitted Obasanjo to run for a third term. This Day (Lagos) reports that Obasanjo has set up reconciliation committees in response. There is no doubt the Third Term saga severely weakened the President. Yet last weekend, armed police shut down the headquarters of the breakaway PDP faction. The different factions are now suing each other over control of the party. The potential seriousness of this split for elections next year should not be underestimated. It could be that the PDP's efforts to change the constitution will be perceived as one of the greatest disasters in post-military Nigerian history.
  • AP Photo/George OsodiInventor of the Kalashnikov rifle regrets his invention.
  • Prolonged instability in the Middle East is making Africa, and especially Nigeria, the new "Mecca" of oil exploration (forgive the terrible pun).
  • A cogent risk analysis for foreign investors in Nigeria by the Economist's Intelligence Unit (via calls Nigeria one of the riskiest places in the world. Quote:
    It is estimated that at least 50,000 people have been killed in various incidents of ethnic, religious and communal violence since the return to civilian rule in May 1999. This gives Nigeria a casualty rate from internal conflict that is one of the highest in the world--and the country is not fighting a civil war.
  • Nigeria prepares to hand over the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon, following an agreement on Monday in New York that ironed out disagreements over an October 2002 ruling by the International Court of Justice.
  • A Nigerian television presenter, Mike Gbenga Arubela, was arrested Wednesday (6/14) after the day before hosting a program on next year's presidential elections in which "a guest criticised President Olusegun Obasanjo."
  • The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports on the US Navy's increasing involvement in African waters:
    "Where there are rich resources and a lack of governance and a lack of rule of law, people who are terrorists or wannabe terrorists or would wish to do bad things gravitate," Navy Adm. Harry Ulrich said after a speech to the Military Affairs Council of Western Pennsylvania in Moon. "And that area is defined by rich resources, lack of governance and the lack of rule of law."
  • Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka blames "the emergence of godfatherism and the havoc it has wreaked on the country" on President Obasanjo.
  • The Daily Trust (Abuja) reports that Nigerian marijuana growers are increasingly making "the best in the world."
[Gunboat/AP Photo/George Osodi and Ulrich/Tribune Review/Michael Henninger]

No comments: