Thursday, December 4, 2008

Whazzup in Nigeria? News!

The Bench front page... NIGERIA NEWS ROUNDUP - Just when you thought your country might be screwed up, we getting refreshing reassurance that our own home turf ain't so bad. It could be a lot worse. It could be Nigeria. Scanning the news last night for updates about the insane rioting in the Nigerian city of Jos, the following unrelated stories jumped out at me. So, whazzup in Nigeria? Nigerian 'witchdoctor' claims to have killed 110 children 'possessed by evil spirits' (The Telegraph) - Rights campaigners say “witch doctors” in some parts of the country convince parents that their children are possessed and will bring misfortune such as divorce or disease. That's a disheartening story. Here, in the US, rights campaigners (some call them "liberals") would take a more efficient approach and advocate either killing the children before they are born (some call that "abortion"), or abandoning their children at the nearest manned fire station. Why Nigeria hasn't adopted (no pun intended) that approach is a mystery. That witch doctor thing involves too much ritual and there's not as much profit in it as there is in, say, a busy "family planning" clinic. It's politically correct these days to say "developing nations" rather than "third world." Nigeria, however, hardly seems to be developing. They are stalled, perhaps slightly developmentally stunted. Nigeria is devo, not progressing; it's more like regressing. In fact, it was reported today by Africasia that "President Umaru Yar'Adua says his government plans to spend 2.87 trillion naira in the coming year -- more than its projected revenue of 1.778 trillion naira." That's very devo. Perhaps the US Congress is taking its cues from President Umaru lately. Nevertheless, the US has a long way to go - even with its high murder rate - before we reach the spectacular scale of Nigeria's religious and political rioting. Babies die in Nigeria from more than just witch doctors. Bad baby formula kills, too. The Nigerians are not nearly as efficient at killing babies, as indicated above, as other nations. AP reports this week that "Nigerian food and drug regulators on Tuesday updated the death toll to 34 in an outbreak of fatalities among infants given a locally-made teething formula tainted with a toxic thickening agent." That's nothing! China, for example, says 300000 babies have been sickened by tainted milk, and many have died. China may be a "developing nation," but they're way ahead of Nigeria in poisoning their own infants. Nigeria, like every "developing nation," stinks of official corruption. Bloomberg reports that Human Rights Watch says "the former head of Nigeria’s anti- corruption agency is the target of a campaign of harassment, threats and an attempt on his life after investigating politicians during his tenure." See, this one is tricky. It's true that Nigerian corruption is flashier than corruption in the US, but that's only because the corrupt officials over there are not as slick as the one's here. Take Chicago Alderman Joe Moore, for example, who has yet to be charged with any of the many alleged crimes he has allegedly committed during his alleged service as an alleged alderman. He's slicker than the average Nigerian politician. Not necessarily less corrupt, just slicker. According to that Bloomberg report, "Nigeria lost some $380 billion to corruption between independence in 1960 and the end of military rule in 1999, according to a separate HRW report published in October 2007." That's a lot of money, but a drop in the bucket compared to the trillions that the US federal government has misplaced in same period. I understand that the US has/had more to begin with. Still, we don't have investigators begging corrupt presidents for protection. Instead, we have corrupt investigators in cahoots with corrupt presidents. And Congressmen. And Senators. And aldermen. See? We're slicker. Finally, some good news out of Nigeria: The Sofia News Agency reports that Nigerian kidnappers freed a Bulgarian engineer. That's good for the engineer, but indicates a lack of sophistication on the part of Nigerian kidnapping professionals. Mexico, another "developing nation," has a world class expertise in the fine art of holding people against their will. In August, 2008, CNN reported that kidnappings in Mexico "topped 700 in 2007. Authorities say the real figures may be even greater because victims often don't report crimes to a police force they don't trust." Now that's kidnapping expertise, something the Nigerians apparently lack. Even with all of its child-killing witch doctors, poisonous baby formula, sectarian riots and massacres, the occasional outbreak of some weird African plague, corrupt politicians, and poisonous creepy-crawlies, the Nigerian government insists that you should come visit this beautiful hell hole. From Nigerian Tourism (NTDC), we get this load of crap: Besides the many natural features of Nigeria, the cultural assets of the nation are of universal recognition. The richness and diversity of the Nigerian culture is a manifestation of the socio-cultural differences of the over 250 ethnic groups that inhabit the land for ages. These, couple with hospitality of the over 110 million people, make Nigeria one of the richly endowed potential tourist destinations in the globe. "Cultural assets." "Diversity of Nigerian culture." Yep, without that, there would be no sporadic massacres of Muslims killing Christians killing Muslims killing Christians. Diversity, in spite of the facts on the ground, is probably touted as a strength there. "Diversity" is a magical word, you know. It can make reality disappear and dreams manifest themselves in vivid color. The part of the quote that calls Nigeria "one of the richly endowed potential tourist destinations in the globe" tragically and unintentionally funny. Richly endowed, yes, with natural resources. But their use of the phrase "potential tourist destinations" just might be a Freudian admission that they aren't a tourist destination yet, not a significant one at any rate. Potential. Nigeria, like any nation, has potential. Some nations just have less potential than others. Ahmed Saka, writing for Associated Press, reported that over "10,000 Nigerians have died in sectarian violence since civilian leaders took over from a former military junta in 1999....Few Nigerian elections have been deemed free and fair since independence from Britain in 1960, and military takeovers have periodically interrupted civilian rule." It's okay, though. The violence there? It's diverse, multicultural violence. RELATED: Nigeria Christian / Muslim Conflict