Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Nigeria is an East African nation that does not have a famous leader like Mubarak or Qaddafi. Therefore, much of what has been going on in this country has not made the American media.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, the seventh most populous country in the world, and the most populous country in the world in which the majority of the population is black. The economy of Nigeria is one of the fastest growing in the world, with the International Monetary Fund projecting a growth of 9% in 2008 and 8.3% in 2009.
Last summer, Americans watched in disbelief as the Deep Water Horizon oil spill poured 10,000 gallons of oil an hour into the Gulf of Mexico. BP attempted several botched attempts to cap the well. The threat to the environment, fishing and tourism were thought to be some of the worst in the world. Those comments show just how little we know about the rest of the world. In fact, more oil is spilled from the delta's network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico
Oil was discovered in Nigeria and pipelines were laid 40 years ago to pump the oil out to the ships in the harbor. As is the case in most African nations, the oil is owned by a Western petroleum company (Royal Dutch Shell) and Nigerians receive only a fraction (less than 10%) of the value. The pipelines crisscross the farmlands leaking oil into the ground and aquifers. Much of the land is covered with the telltale iridescent sheen of oil. Water tastes of oil and causes sickness and death.
President Goodluck John comes from the oil producing delta region and won Monday's presidential poll. The south of Nigeria is primarily Christian. He defeated Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler from the Muslim north. John's victory sparked riots in northern Nigeria which is primarily Muslim.
Authorities in the northern state of Kaduna imposed a 24-hour curfew after protesters set fire to the residence of Vice President Namadi Sambo in the town of Zaria and forced their way into the central prison, releasing inmates.
Stability in Nigeria is critical as Libyan oil production continues to be shutdown. A Muslim rebellion, as has been the case in most of Northern African, could have detrimental effects on Nigerian oil production and global supply. If Muslims do revolt, expect to see UN or other forces being dispatched to keep oil production flowing.