Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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Press Releases

Nigeria Faces Growing Hurdles
Nigeria seems to be constantly on the brink of implosion. The recent elections, badly marred by fraud and a distinct lack of transparency, moved the nation on step closer to a conflict that would have direct security implications for the United States, as well as opportunity for Islamist terrorists and other non-state actors seeking to destabilize the region.

The most vocal and militant of the armed groups now waging a campaign of kidnapping and mayhem in the oil rich Niger Delta, has announced plans to step up its actions to pressure the government-elect of Umaru Yar'Adua, successor to president Obasanjo and of the same People's Democratic Party (PDP).

Yar'Adua has chosen Goodluck Jonathan, a state governor from the delta, as his vice president and the new government is due to be inaugurated on May 29. But that does not sit well with the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), who view him as another crooked politician.

The almost-daily kidnappings of foreign oil workers (though most are let go in a matter of days) and destruction of the oil pipelines and the ensuing ecological damage, are among the most visible challenges to the new government.

There is also the growing militancy of the Taliban in Nigeria, in the north, the Saudi-funded mosque-building and _wahhabi_ outreach efforts, and the spread southward of Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (former GSPC).

The message of these groups is likely to find an echo as the social and economic situation of most of the Nigerians, especially those in the Muslim north, continue to deteriorate.

Yar'Adua faces formidable challenges across the board.

Under elected governments, the average life expectancy has dropped and most other indicators of well being have plummeted. This include access to health care, infant mortality and access to potable water.

Hardly a way to win the hearts and minds of a population that has spent most of the past 30 years under brutal regimes that have raised kleptocracy to a new art form.

There is no indication that the Niger Delta armed groups have made contact with or are allied with the Islamist radicals in the north. But the twin pressures will make it extremely difficult for the new government, whose legitimacy has been questioned at home and abroad, to move forward on virtually any front.

Unfortunately, as the largest economy in West Africa and the largest oil producer, what happens there is more than just a humanitarian concern. Nigeria is constantly teetering on the edge of disaster. It if finally plunges over, we will all pay a price.

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