Predators Circle by ProQuest

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									                                                                     THEWORLDTODAY.ORG DECEMBER 2009
                                                                                                                                         PAGE 9
  DRAMA IN THE NIGER DELTA
  Daniel Balint-Kurti, ASSOCIATE FELLOW, AFRICA PROGRAMME, CHATHAM HOUSE




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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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