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Vol 47 No 2

Published 20th January 2006


Nigeria

A New Year offensive

Oil prices rise as hardline militia groups demand the release of Delta leaders and the exit of foreign companies

The main puzzle about the latest wave of attacks and kidnappings to sweep the Niger Delta is why it took so long this time. Local leaders had been predicting big trouble for the past six months. Tensions had been simmering in the lead up to next year's national elections amid a succession of security crackdowns in the Delta, while the underlying causes of the violence - 80 per cent youth unemployment, environmental despoliation and the rampant trade in stolen oil and small arms - continued to fester. There was no sign that the state governments, increasingly under scrutiny for grand corruption, were seriously addressing any of these problems. After a quietish and immensely profitable 2005, the oil majors look as if they're caught in Nigeria's headlights again.

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