Stories written by Sam Olukoya

NIGERIA: Refined Oil Shortage Continues for Africa’s Largest Producer

"We are suffering in the midst of plenty." That was how Nelson Ilemchi summed up his plight as he spent an entire day queuing to buy kerosene. Since January Africa’s largest producer of crude oil has been experiencing a protracted nationwide scarcity of the refined product.

Explosions Greet Nigerian President’s New Term

Bomb blasts hit a military base in the northern Nigerian city of Bauchi on Sunday, killing ten and injuring more than a dozen just hours after the swearing in ceremony of President Goodluck Jonathan in the capital, Abuja. News reports also said three others died in a bombing in Zuba, just outside the capital.

Makoko, Lagos: Microcredit is helping women take advantage of entrepreneurial opportunities. Credit:  Sarah Simpson/IRIN

NIGERIA: Women Giving Each Other a Hand Up

In an open space near her home in Makoko, a crowded suburb of the sprawling city of Lagos, Latifat Agboola sits in the midst of bags of charcoal, attending to her customers. Some of them call her "the charcoal woman with the dirty job, but she sees herself as a businesswoman on the rise.

/UPDATE*/: Violence Threatens Nigerian Elections

Nigeria's staggered general elections have been postponed after the Independent National Electoral Commission was unable to deliver voting materials to polling stations in time. Campaigning for the polls was overshadowed by pre-election violence including bombings and gun attacks on campaign rallies, politically-motivated assassinations and violent clashes between members of rival parties.

Campaign billboards in Kano. Credit:  Aminu Abubakar/IRIN

Violence Threatens Nigerian Elections

As Nigerians go to the polls on Apr. 2, pre-election violence has raised fears the elections will not be free and fair. The campaign period has featured bombings and gun attacks on campaign rallies, politically-motivated assassinations and violent clashes between members of rival parties.

An armed Ijaw militant in Tombia, near Port Harcourt the Niger Delta's principal city. Credit:  George Osodi/IRIN

Niger Delta Demands for Justice Undaunted by Decades of Violence

Nigerian environmental rights groups have been making the case for the expulsion of oil companies from the Niger Delta in the southeastern part of the country at the World Social Forum in Dakar.

Health System Failing Nigeria’s Youngest Citizens

Despite some progress, Nigeria is lagging behind its peers in reducing deaths among children under five. The mortality rate remains worryingly high for newborn infants - 700 children less than 28 days old die in the country every day.

Environmental damage in the Niger Delta: will a new law at least trade jobs exchange jobs for devastation? Credit:  Dulue Mbachu/IRIN

NIGERIA: New Law to Promote Locals in Oil Industry

"This bill seeks to address the compelling need for us as a nation to have indigenous participation in the industry." With these words, Nigeria’s acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, signed the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Bill into law.

2004 photo of Ijaw militants in a Niger Delta village. Credit:  George Osodi/IRIN

NIGERIA: No Oil Company Will Know Peace in the Creeks

Three flow stations in the oil-rich Niger Delta have had to be closed after a pipeline was sabotaged, according to Royal Dutch Shell.

Niger Delta militants with hostages in 2006: a campaign of kidnapping and attacks on oil installation has crippled Nigeria's oil exports. Credit:  Gretchen Wilson/IRIN

NIGERIA: Slow Start for Niger Delta Amnesty

Nigeria’s president Umaru Yar’Adua is embarking on an ambitious move to end armed insurgency in the country’s oil-rich Niger Delta region.

Street food, Makoko: the effects of global finance are being felt at all levels. Credit:  Alexandre Foulon

ECONOMY-NIGERIA: Fears of Further Pain

With no formal education, Mama Ibeji may not be tracking the global economic crisis in the newspapers. But from her little roadside restaurant in Makoko, a Lagos suburb, she can tell that all is not well with the Nigerian economy.

NIGERIA: Niger Delta Conflict Hurting Local Economy

A thriving business climate appears to be the main casualty as armed groups agitate for the control of oil proceeds in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.

Collectives have increased women's profits from shea butter production by up to five times.  Credit: Kenneth S Yussif

DEVELOPMENT-GHANA: Women Ideal Shea Butter Producers

"Wherever I went, they laughed at me and called me 'Habiba the empty mouth.' I was always embarrassed," says 45-year-old Habiba Alhassan. "I could not afford to smile; I could not open my mouth in public, when I took photographs I had to close my mouth so that I wouldn't look ugly."

ENVIRONMENT-NIGERIA: As E-Waste Dump, Lagos Imperils People

Nigeria’s commercial capital is arguably one of the largest dumps for obsolete electronic items otherwise called e-wastes.

HEALTH: After Successful U.S. Suits, Nigeria Takes on Big Tobacco

Cigarette packs sold in Nigeria carry a health warning: ‘‘The Federal Ministry of Health warns that cigarette smokers are liable to die young.’’ But, says the government, this warning has not stopped many Nigerian youngsters from smoking.

CLIMATE-NIGERIA: Inefficient Gas Flaring Remains Unchecked

"The Federal Government policy to stop gas flaring commences on Jan. 1, 2008, and any company which flares gas after that time would be shut down." This was the strong warning from the Nigerian government in October last year to multinational oil companies operating in the country.

POLITICS-NIGERIA: Watershed Elections – For Men, That Is

Declarations of no confidence in the electoral commission, threats of an opposition boycott, a key candidate clawing his way back onto the ballot at the last minute...There has been no shortage of political theatre concerning Saturday's milestone elections in Nigeria, or debate on whether the country can successfully hand over power from one civilian government to another for the first time since independence in 1960.

NIGERIA: What Have Eight Years of Democracy Done for Women Politicians?

"Men are the decision makers; women should be cooking in the kitchen while men play politics." This is the type of comment that Dorothy Ukel Nyone's male counterparts repeatedly made when she announced her intention to contest a seat in Nigeria's state elections, which got underway Saturday.

NIGERIA: Vice President Fights for His Political Life

‘'Military democracy,'' this is what Nigeria's vice-president Atiku Abubakar calls the electioneering process that is supposed to produce a successor for president Olusegun Obasanjo in April.

DEVELOPMENT-NIGERIA: Burnt Alive, as History Repeats Itself

"The location, the timing all made a perfect situation for this kind of tragedy," said Bode Olufemi of Environmental Rights Action, the Nigerian affiliate of non-governmental group Friends of the Earth – this after walking through the distressing aftermath of an oil pipeline fire that broke out in Nigeria’s financial hub of Lagos, Tuesday.

RIGHTS-NIGERIA: “People Always See Us As Health Hazards”

"When I go home, I often notice that as soon as I come, all the towels, soaps and sponges that were in the bathroom will disappear," says Isaiah Ojeabulu. He chairs the Human Rights Association of Persons Affected by Leprosy, an organisation in Nigeria, and has himself suffered from leprosy.

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