Helping Nigeria help us

From the Los Angeles Times

EDITORIALS: THE SATURDAY PAGE

Helping Nigeria help us


April 29, 2006

NOTHING FOCUSES THE MIND like the prospect of being hanged - or paying $4 a gallon for gas. If a decade of fervent international calls for the United States to devote more resources and attention to the suffering of Africa for humanitarian reasons went largely unheeded, maybe self-interest will give the U.S. a prod. Instability in Nigeria has played a big role in the recent run-up in oil prices. The lesson is that Africa is becoming increasingly important to U.S. economic and strategic interests, particularly as Al Qaeda shows signs of turning African countries into its next recruiting ground and China continues signing deals for African oil reserves.

That should provide the impetus for a concerted effort to treat the problems gnawing away at Nigeria, which undoubtedly would do more to lower gas prices than most of the absurd cosmetic fixes being proposed by Congress and President Bush. Crushing poverty, disease, corruption and the wildly unfair distribution of oil wealth have left the nation in a state of low-level rebellion that has prompted attacks on Nigeria's oil infrastructure, cutting production by about 20% from the fifth-biggest oil supplier to the U.S. But the problems are nothing an infusion of U.S. know-how and political pressure couldn't help.

The first order of business should be persuading Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to pledge not to seek or accept a third term in office. Obasanjo's supporters are trying to amend the nation's constitution to allow three terms, a disastrous move in a country torn by a history of military dictators who refused to surrender power. Obasanjo hasn't endorsed the amendment, but he hasn't opposed it either. He should know that democracy in Nigeria is far too fragile to allow this charade to continue.

More difficult will be addressing the problems that have prompted rebels in the Niger Delta to attack oil facilities and kidnap workers. Their methods are reprehensible, and the U.S. must be careful not to leave the impression that thugs get results. The best way to fight them is to work against the conditions that allow them to thrive. The people of the Niger Delta are some of the poorest in the world, living in villages that have been severely polluted by oil operations while enjoying none of the wealth being produced. With some pressure and assistance from the United States, the oil companies should speed their cleanup while the government builds up more services and infrastructure for the region.

For all its troubles, Nigeria is actually one of Africa's success stories. It's critical that its progress under seven years of Obasanjo's rule continue.


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Re: .Helping Nigeria help us
Emj posted on 04-30-2006, 14:08:36 PM
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More difficult will be addressing the problems that have prompted rebels in the Niger Delta to attack oil facilities and kidnap workers. Their methods are reprehensible, and the U.S. must be careful not to leave the impression that thugs get results. The best way to fight them is to work against the conditions that allow them to thrive. The people of the Niger Delta are some of the poorest in the world, living in villages that have been severely polluted by oil operations while enjoying none of the wealth being produced. With some pressure and assistance from the United States, the oil companies should speed their cleanup while the government builds up more services and infrastructure for the region.

The so call people referred to as thugs are simply militants who have studied and located the weak point------and they are indeed getting results for their people. I just pray that the govt will build up the region and not repress the people. We don't want to witness another Darfur, Somali, iraq etc etc in Nigeria
Re: .Helping Nigeria help us
Elaa posted on 04-30-2006, 20:25:10 PM
Now that the chicken has come home to roost, I see that the problem in Nigeria is set to become an international issue.

The Niger-Delta is populated with foreign oil-workers, many of them Americans. Before the world became aware of what is going on in the Niger-Delta, they have known. True, nobody sent them there to reform the communities. And they may have been unaware of having a role to play - afterall they are most probably used to social issues being addressed by the government. But over all these years, they should have known something was wrong. Even if they didn't stay for extreme long periods, they should have compared notes with those before them and after them. Now that their safety has become an issue, I bet they will be comparing notes now, and seeking ways to get their representatives to let the US government know the appalling conditions under which the oil-producing communities exist.

And now, it's no longer just those who work in the Niger-Delta, its all Americans who have to buy gas. The Obasanjo's administration have not been ruling from outer space. Yet, the US government has conveniently turned its eye of the atrocities of the government. I bet you, if the Taylor saga hadn't happened on the eve of Obasanjo's visit to the US so that the President was about to enter 'soup', Taylor would have conveniently disappeared!

The catastrophe of a third term for Obasanjo not only spells doom for Nigerians, but for West Africans, for the whole of Africa and indeed for the US. He that hath ears, let him hear.
Re: .Helping Nigeria help us
DoubleWahala posted on 04-30-2006, 20:30:43 PM
Hmmmm.... the U.S. is finally beginning to come out of the fox hole. Hight gas prices, no doubt.
Re: .Helping Nigeria help us
Joseph posted on 05-01-2006, 11:59:36 AM
That we still have some Nigerians who fall for the antics of the Americans is something that never fails to amaze me.

How long will it take some guys to realize that the Americans don't give a damn about Nigerians or any group or nation of people? They are only interested in their own interest. And the interest we are talking about here is Oil! Just because the gas prices in the United States are making a steady climb up the economic index, these people, the American politicians, the media etc are getting jittery. And their way of countering the consequential economic crunch is to concentrate their collective energy on Nigeria.

We do have our political and economic problems just as they have theirs. And we shall resolve our problems among ourselves just as they (the Americans always want to take care of their problems without external interference).

But what are the Americans (the politicians and the media) doing about the genocide rampaging the Darfur region of Sudan? They don't care about the catastrophy because there is nothing in Darfur that will benefit them. But wait till many more hundreds of thousands, if not millions, are slaughtered in Darfur just like in Rwanda, then there will be a shedding of crocodile tears all over Washington DC. Afterwards, there will be a big movie depicting the atrocities again, just like the "Hotel Rwanda", and there will be more crying all over America after the head has been cut off. In the meantime, they are blind to everything else around the world---it's this Oil problem and the rising cost of gas that are of paramount interests to them.
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