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Vol 38 No 2

Published 17th January 1997


Nigeria

Booming and bombing

The coming oil boom has upped the stakes in the escalating confrontation between the government and its opponents

There is no grand design to the violence that is wracking the country. Government supporters and oppositionists are pursuing vendettas against each other and a shadowy third force is emerging with a lethal capacity to attack military and civilian targets. There seems to be no one set of culprits behind the dozen or so bombings of the past year: some devices are crude 'chemistry lab' jobs but others are professional, remote-controlled and strategically placed. The bombers are confusing and worrying almost everyone, especially Lagosians and foreign diplomats. For those who believe that General Sani Abacha wants to shore up his popularity before standing for the presidency in October 1998, this is a critical year: the start of his transition from remote military strongman to civilianised leader. Most concerned is his military constituency, which fears it will be left behind if its chief goes in search of civilian votes. The government's myriad security networks will be busy.

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