Monday, March 13, 2006

Nigeria: worse than Iraq?

A rather alarmist article in the monthly magazine The Atlantic speculates on the possible implosion of Nigeria and the possible reaction of the US government in the world's sixth largest oil producer.

I'd like to think Nigeria's collapse is unthinkable. Since President Olesegun Obasanjo took power in 1999, the facade of stability has returned to Nigeria. The country has regular elections. Obasanjo's Nigeria is no doubt significantly freer politically than under his monstrous predecessor Gen. Sani Abacha. Or for that matter, under nearly any of his predcessors since independence.

However, it seems there is something fundamentally rotten at the core of Nigeria, something that isn't glossed over simply by regular elections. By all accounts, corruption and cronyism have thoroughly saturated not just government and politics, but business and society as a whole. Nigeria is not the only country with massive corruption at the top, but when corruption as a culture (as opposed to limited incidents of malfeasence) permeates all levels of society, it is a parasite that comprehensively weakens the health of a nation and makes it more vulnerable to diseases like ethnocentrism and religious extremism. The question is this: to what degree is corruption still seen as an unacceptable deviancy and to what degree has it become a way of life?

And if Obasanjo tries to make himself president-for-life (or uses the facade of allowing his allies to engineer that outcome), it could be a serious blow to creaky Nigeria. Already, the country's Catholic bishops has come out against constitutional changes that would allow the life presidency.


At 5:57 AM, Blogger sokari said...

Definately something fundamentally rotten at the core of the geographical space called Nigeria but I do not think it is on the verge of imploding just yet. A third term my Obasanjo will in my opinion push it more in that direction so we will see what happens in the next 18 months or so.

At 10:27 AM, Blogger Imnakoya said...

I haven't read the full article on The Atlantic yet (it appears its open to subscribers only); however, to think that Nigeria is not already imploding given the state of the nation after 7 years of president Obasanjo is a wrong call.

The heart of the nation (Niger Delta) has been engulfed in escalating violence, sabotage and kidnapping since he resumed office and nothing has been done to curb this.
Oil exportation has reduced significantly, assasinations and armed banditry are the order of the day, political manipulation by the executive arm of government seem to be the norm now in Nigeria...yet this is not alarming?

What is happening in Nigeria is the prelude to civil war; it has been unfolding for decades and has continued unabatted during President obasanjo's regime.

Nigeria is not imploding?...By the time the bang of implosion is audible it will be too late.

"The country has regular elections"... what do you mean by regular elections? The one in 1999 or 2003?

At 10:35 AM, Blogger Brian said...

I knew things were creaky and not really changing in any fundamental way under Obasanjo. I figured other observers could say more definitively if it was actually imploding or not. Given what I've observed, that you say that it is, I do not doubt.

I am very disturbed by the increasing spiral of violence in Nigeria. I'm sorry that you misinterpreted what I wrote as me not being alarmed.

"what do you mean by regular elections? "

I mean regular in their frequency, not necessarily in their conduct.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger TheMalau said...

I am very concerned about Nigeria. I have not written about it yet, because I am still reading up, so I figure I may let others handle that. I am scared because the corruption levels are so high, that they have become the accepted norm... and this Niger Delta situation with Shell trying to be greedier than it really needs to be... Something is roten in the State of Nigeria!


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