Inequality in Nigeria

On the radio Friday morning, I learned about a car bombing in Nigeria.  The NPR story I heard caught my attention because the people claiming responsibility for the bombing were protesting that Nigeria’s oil revenues are not going to the poorer people in the country.

It surprised me that Nigeria’s capital was not identified in the article, as though everyone knew Nigeria’s capital (do you know what it is?  Would a typical US 9th grader know?)

I looked up Nigeria to learn that its capital is Abuja.

abuja  

Then I went looking for “Eagle Square,” since that’s where the car bombing happened.  I found its GPS coordinates, plugged them into Google Earth and found this:

The mosque on the left reminded me that Nigeria is on the line between where Muslims and Christians have come into Africa

muslim-christian africa

I also figured out that the square, with a yellow push-pin in it in the picture below, is called “Eagle Square” because of the eagle shape in front of the square.

My eye was also drawn to “Independence Ave,” circled in red at the bottom of the screen clipping above.  Nigeria, like many African nations, only gained its independence from European colonists in the 1960s.  And 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of that independence.

As I zoomed out to see a broader view of Abuja, I saw that the road that parallels Independence Ave is Constitution.

From my time living in Washington, DC, those names were quite familiar to me:


(trust me — the circled red avenues are Constitution on top and Independence on the bottom — the green area between them is known as “The Mall”)

It occurred to me that when Abuja laid out its capital (I wonder when that happened), it seems to have copied the layout of Washington, DC.

In any case, I’m left with a number of questions:

How big of an oil producer is Nigeria?
Where does it export its oil?
How many Nigerians live on less than a dollar a day?  The NPR piece said that “most” live on less than a dollar a day.  “Most” could be 51% or it could be 75% or 99% — which is it?  Inquiring minds want to know.  Do the people who blew up the cars have a point?  If so, is there a better way to make a point than by blowing things up?

SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE:

The Washington Post now has an article about the bombing, which contained some pictures of the bomb aftermath (pasted below), as well as this additional context, pasted in italics:

The bombings raise new questions about political stability and security in Africa’s most populous nation as it approaches a critical presidential election WHEN IS THE ELECTION?  IF SO MANY PEOPLE ARE UPSET THAT OIL REVENUES ARE NOT BEING SHARED EQUALLY, CAN THOSE PEOPLE COME TOGETHER TO ELECT A LEADER?  WOULD THE CURRENT RULING PARTY ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN? and remains one of the world’s top crude oil suppliers.

The militant group issued a warning to journalists about an hour before the attacks, telling people to stay away from festivities at Eagle Square in the nation’s capital of Abuja. It blamed Nigeria’s government for doing nothing to end the unceasing poverty in the delta as the nation receives billions of dollars from oil revenue.

“There is nothing worth celebrating after 50 years of failure,” the group’s statement read. “For 50 years, the people of the Niger Delta have had their land and resources stolen from them.”

The group said the explosive devices had been planted by “operatives working inside the government security services.”

Police Minister Adamu Waziri said that eight people had been killed and 18 others wounded in the attacks.

 

The car bombings seemed designed to lure first-responders and then kill them with a second blast. THIS IS REALLY TROUBLING —INTENDING TO KILL POLICE AND FIRE WORKERS Five minutes after the first vehicle exploded, the second went off, a police officer told an Associated Press reporter at the scene. At least one of the dead was a policeman, the officer said. The officer spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

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About Steve Goldberg

I teach U.S. History at Research Triangle High School, a public charter school in Durham, NC, whose mission is to incubate, prove and scale innovative models of teaching and learning.
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