Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta region has seen little benefit from the billions of dollars earned from oil over the last four decades, prompting a growing but disorganized insurgency across the region. Irresponsible oil companies and government officials have reduced the Niger Delta to one of the most polluted environments on earth. Corrupt local and national politicians, many of whom came to power through rigged elections, have colluded to manipulate ethnic divisions amid poverty to loot the region’s wealth. Consequently, the people of the Niger Delta have no formal political voice in Nigeria’s nascent democratic system, increasing the appeal of militias as alternatives for political influence and economic sustenance. A new Nigerian president takes office in May 2007, and he will likely have a brief window of opportunity to undertake measures to reverse the governance crisis in the Niger Delta.



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