Nigeria. By mid-year, the country’s courts had rejected eleven of the 2007 governorship elections with reference to electoral fraud. Several dozens of elections by members of the federal parliament or state assemblies were also annulled.
However, a special court rejected the protests against the election of President Umaru Yar’Adua on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence of cheating in the presidential election. The rash was supposed to give the president greater confidence to pursue his own political line, including a sharp fight against corruption. In October, Yar’Adua announced that the state had withdrawn the equivalent of US $ 3.4 billion from ministries and government agencies. During the fall, he also carried out extensive government reform and replaced 20 ministers.
Disagreement over the result in local elections was said to have triggered riots with about 400 casualties between Christians and Muslims in the city of Jos in November.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Click to see the meanings of 2-letter acronym and abbreviation of NI in general and in geography as Nigeria in particular.
Nigeria’s dangerously unilateral dependence on oil as practically the only export product was clearly illustrated during the year. In June, the government announced that the high oil price made it possible to invest $ 10 billion on improved infrastructure, half of which was to strengthen the electricity supply. Only four months later, the oil price collapse forced the government into sharp budget cuts.
In February, the suspected leader of the MEND (Nigerian Liberation Liberation Movement) rebellion, Henry Okah, from Angola, where he was arrested, was expelled in 2007. He was charged with 62 counts of treason and terrorism and risking the death penalty. After the disclosure, MEND carried out a series of attacks on oil plants, which caused Shell and Chevron to temporarily shut down parts of its production. The British government offered to help Nigeria with training military in the fight against MEND, which was rejected by both the rebels and local human rights groups as a serious provocation.
President Yar’Adua appealed to the outside world not to trade stolen oil and compared the international ban on “blood diamonds” from the African civil war. The equivalent of at least 100,000 barrels of oil is estimated to be stolen every day in the Niger Delta. The thefts are considered to fund the activities of MEND and other armed groups.
After dismissing three of the country’s top military, the president announced in September that a new Niger Delta ministry would be formed. The ministry’s tasks would include creating jobs in the oil-rich area and expanding the civil infrastructure there. At the same time, MEND launched a series of new attacks following information about an army offensive against the rebels. The attacks were quenched after a week following appeals from local elders. Over the next few days, police arrested a few hundred suspected MEND members.
Despite widespread local protests and criticism from the government, Nigeria in August finally finalized the Bakassi Peninsula to neighboring Cameroon. In 2002, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the area belonged to Cameroon under a 19th-century agreement between the then colonial powers of Great Britain and Germany. Parts of the peninsula were handed over to Cameroon in 2006.
Conflicts in the Niger Delta
In addition to the religious and ethnic dimension, several peoples have risen in protest because they feel left out politically, socially and economically, not least in the Niger Delta, which for more than three decades has supplied a large portion of Nigeria’s state revenue through the production and export of oil and gas. The contention issues are the right to land and water, as well as claims for compensation for environmental damage.
Several armed groups have been formed in the oil fields of the Niger Delta, some of which are purely criminal gangs, while others are pursuing political goals; the latter demanding that a larger proportion of the oil wealth should be allocated to the local population. The groups, of which the best known are the Niger Delta’s People Volunteer Force (NDPVF) and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), are behind sabotage actions against oil installations and kidnappings of Nigerian and foreign citizens engaged in the money-laundering industry.
In 2004, Nigeria’s waters were ranked as the world’s most dangerous, with widespread piracy. In 2006, two Norwegians were kidnapped together with two Ukrainians from the Norwegian-owned utility ship “Northern Comrade”, but all four were released soon after. Bander is also responsible for an extensive theft of oil in an organized business of a very large scale and linked to international cartels. This theft is estimated to have a value of 4-18 billion dollars per year.
A program for economic development in the region was rejected in 2006 by Mend. Most rebels belong to the ijaw ethnic group, Nigeria’s fourth largest. The NDPVF has demanded self-government for the ijaw people. The actions against the oil industry in the Niger Delta have at times reduced Nigeria’s oil production and exports by up to 1/5, that is, to an extent that has raised questions about the country’s ability to act as a large and stable supplier of oil, including to the US; Nigeria is the United States fifth largest source of imported oil. The reduced supply from Nigeria, and the uncertainty caused by the actions of the Niger Delta, were a contributing factor to the strong increase in oil prices in 2007-2008.
In 2006, Nigeria and the United States signed a security agreement on joint patrol of the waters, while Nigeria sought assistance from China to strengthen security in the Niger Delta.
Critics of political developments in Nigeria have pointed out that the turmoil surrounding the 2007 elections, with some lack of legitimacy for Yar’Adua as president with limited national political experience, will make it more difficult to resolve the serious security problem in the Niger Delta, where there was a conflict that threatened the country’s oil industry, and thus also the economy. However, Yar’Adua just got through an extensive amnesty program in 2009, where militia groups were given political amnesty and opportunities for job training programs against handing in weapons. The violence and conflict in the Niger Delta has subsided significantly, but never completely disappeared.
The fight against corruption
President Obasanjo made the fight against corruption a major political issue, but succeeded only to a limited extent in bringing about widespread corruption. Nigeria is considered by Transparency International as one of the world’s most corrupt countries. In particular, the political elite is considered to be corrupt, and the struggle for political office, not least at the state level, is therefore very much about the possibility of personal enrichment, which in turn contributes to the widespread irregularities in the conduct of elections. According to official estimates, more than $ 400 billion has disappeared as a result of corruption.
An anti-corruption unit, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was established in 2003 and has appealed to several political leaders. A corruption case in 2004, called Nigeriagate, involved several large multinational corporations, and the Swiss government agreed to return Nigeria’s government nearly $ 500 million from accounts of former President Sani Abacha in the same year.
In 2007, the government announced its intention to look at all privatization agreements made during the previous regime, as privatization is a major source of corruption. President Yar’Adua also initiated a process of restructuring the oil industry and dissolving the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which has been scandalized through corruption.
At the same time as corruption has not succeeded, widespread human rights violations have persisted. Furthermore, Nigeria has become one of the central transit countries for drug trafficking, especially heroin from Afghanistan, but also cocaine from South America, to Europe. For several years, Nigerian gangs have become notorious for their scams through letters.
According to Countryaah reports, the population of Nigeria in 2008 was 158,503,086, ranking number 7 in the world. The population growth rate was 2.680% yearly, and the population density was 174.0321 people per km2.