20 Jun. 2007

Nigerian Grinds To A Bloody Halt


And it's all the unions' fault, obviously:
Streets in the main cities were deserted, but this was partly due to a five-day-old strike by road tanker drivers which has left most of Nigeria without fuel.

Very few buses were operating. Banks, schools and most government offices were closed. Unionists barricaded streets in many cities and ejected some workers who turned up at government offices in the capital Abuja.

Some international and domestic flights were cancelled because of a shortage of jet fuel and general shipping ports were shut. Nigeria is also the world's fourth largest producer of cocoa.

"There are no marine services so there are no vessels coming in or going out," a shipping line manager in Lagos said.

Many Nigerians support the strike because the majority lives below the poverty line. Fuel subsidies are seen as one of the few benefits they receive from a government that has failed to deliver power, water, healthcare or schools.

Nigeria's four oil refineries have been shut for months because of sabotage and mismanagement, and Africa's largest producer of crude oil is entirely dependent on imports to meet its fuel needs.
In fact, the problems driving poverty, violence and despair in Nigeria are identical to those in the Middle East: corruption at the highest levels, and Big Oil corporate executives happily greasing the palms of dictators and autocrats.