TEXT OF INTERVIEW
MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Nigerians go to the polls beginning this weekend. The voting takes place against a backdrop of violence aimed at oil operations by U.S. and other countries in the Niger Delta. Julian Lee is an analyst at the Center for Global Energy Studies in London. I asked him what’s at stake.
JULIAN LEE: I think the principle reason that they’re important is this really is the first time that people are expecting to see the transition of power from one elected government to another.
THOMAS: What do you think the outcome of the election, how will that impact oil production and oil facilities in Nigeria?
LEE: Well I think this is a big question. There are certainly some who feel that a change of regime in Nigeria is needed to bring a sense of progress to the oil-producing regions in the Niger Delta. I’m less convinced that that will really be enough. I think that what we’re seeing in the Niger Delta in particular is a total breakdown in any respect for the federal government and any sense that the federal government is looking after the people of the Niger Delta.
THOMAS: Movement for the emancipation of the Niger Delta or MEND has declared total war on oil interests in that area. What impact will this election have on their concerns, you know that oil wealth is being sucked away from the country and that they’re left in poverty?
LEE: The problem is I think that people in the Niger Delta that successive federal governments have simply stolen the wealth from them. They have used it to build vanity projects in other parts of the country and simply left the Niger Delta to rot.
THOMAS: Julian Lee is an analyst at the Center for Global Energy Studies in London.
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