A shadowy new militant group is blowing up the country's oil infrastructure.
While all operators, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, Total, ENI, and Agip, contribute to the problem, locals say that by far the worst actor is Shell. Asked why they don't clean up their mess or upgrade their infrastructure, Shell blames pushback from their Nigerian government partners, and security risks from militants.
The human development indicators that are beginning to improve in the Niger Delta appear to transcend short-term political cycles. Of course, there is still no room to be sanguine about Southeast Nigeria.
My first trip to Timbuktu occurred in 2003, long before this current conflict. I arrived in Timbuktu and the air emitted a certain respect for history. The architectural structure reminded me that I was in the midst of a city of knowledge that had existed for hundreds of years.
Nigeria suffers the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez oil spill every year, as it has each of the last 50 years of oil exploitation.