More than thirteenmillion Nigerians - about ten percent of the country's population - live in the Niger Delta, an area the size of Scotland which produces almost all its crude oil.Millions of homes are along creeks heavily polluted by the effluent of the oil industry, andmost do not have access to even basic infrastructure such as clean water, electricity, education and healthcare. [...] corruption and the flaunting of wealth by regional governors, who serve visiting journalists champagne and travel in private helicopters, has helped fill the ranks of The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) - the rebel group portrayed in Blood and Oil - with angry fighters.
THEWORLDTODAY.ORG DECEMBER 2009 PAGE 9 DRAMA IN THE NIGER DELTA Daniel Balint-Kurti, ASSOCIATE FELLOW, AFRICA PROGRAMME, CHATHAM HOUSE PredatorsCircle The story goes that Nigerian rebels have kidnapped three western expatriate workers and killed them in cold blood. It is the first time they have murdered hostages and the political and economic fall-out in one of the world’s top oil-producing nations could be huge. Oil companies are under attack from the media for putting their workers at risk. The Nigerian government is threatening an all-out offensive which could trigger full-scale civil war. t HE SITUATION IS FICTIONAL, BUT the issues raised about the Niger Delta in the upcoming prime-time television drama Blood and Oil are very real. Despite their relevance to Britain, these matters are rarely discussed here. This country is home to a Nigerian community estimated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at anywhere from eight hundred thousand to three million, and is also Shell, which produces over half of Nigeria’s oil. More than thirteen million Nigerians – about ten percent of the country’s population – live in the Niger Delta, an area the size of Scotland which produces almost all its crude oil. Millions of homes are along creeks heavily polluted by the effluent of the oil industry, and most do not have access to even basic infrastructure such as clean water, electricity, education and healthcare. Increasingly violent militia groups have thrived in this situation, drawing their footsoldiers from the ranks of the poor. the base, jointly with Holland, of Royal Dutch This is the world that Blood and Oil, to be B B C / T I G E R A S P EC T THEWORLDTODAY.ORG DECEMBER 2009 PAGE 10 screened on BBC2 early next year, explores, appeared to be blatant theft: for example, as its two female protagonists try to discover how a local government chairman spent who killed the oil workers and why. Claire vast sums on non-existent projects, ‘including Unwin, played by Jodhi May, is the distraught a “demonstration fish pond” with neither wife of Mark, one of the kidnapped men, water nor fish and a “football academy” that and she has travelled to Nigeria to try to push has never been built’. for her husband’s release. Such corruption and the flaunting of wealth Alice Omuka, played by Naomie Harris, by regional governors, who serve visiting is a British woman of Nigerian origin employed journalists champagne and travel in private
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