A Tale of Two Countries: Nigeria and the U.S.

By Joe Costello, who worked in U.S. politics and energy for decades and is author of the forthcoming, “On the Origin of Politics: By Means of Technological and Human Selection.” Originally published at Alternet

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” —Milan Kundera

“They’re going to postpone the election,” Ken Saro Wiwa Jr. said, walking into our office.

“What?” I exclaimed. I had spent the previous nine months in Nigeria working on the presidential election and was dumbfounded. In that time, I had been deluged by manufactured and untrue stories, but not from Ken. On the contrary, we had a number of intriguing conversations on Nigeria, the U.S., technology, and the future. So with Ken just arriving from Aso Rock, the Nigerian presidential complex, he could not be doubted. But it wasn’t any less surprising. Having spent many years working elections, this postponement was a first.

This was the memory that popped into my head when I heard in October that Ken had died at the age of 47. Ken was one of many Nigerians who taught me about Nigeria and its people—their intelligence, potential, struggles, problems, and wonderful sense of humor. I soon realized in no capacity could I give more than I received. Nigeria gave me a much clearer picture of our two nations’ great and alarming political similarities, and a sharper understanding of the role technology played bringing both countries to corresponding political environments.

In talking with many Nigerians, I would hold my hands a foot apart and say one hand was Nigeria and the other was the U.S. Then while slowly moving them together I’d say, “Politically, we’re coming together.” The Nigerians would look at me quizzically, smile disbelievingly and laugh. “No, it’s true!” I’d insist. While certainly there are differences—resource use the most acute—in other ways, the similarities are striking.

This great resource gulf would blind most Americans to Nigerian congruities. America’s daily resource availability and use dwarfs that of Nigeria’s. The easiest example of this is energy. With 170 million people, a little more than half the population of the United States, Nigeria’s grid generates 4,000 megawatts of electricity; the U.S. generates 1 million megawatts. If Nigeria consumed electricity at the same per capita rate as the U.S., it would need 500,000 megawatts of electricity.

The same story is true for oil. Nigeria consumes only a quarter million barrels of oil a day (mbd), while the U.S. consumes 20 mbd. If Nigeria consumed oil at the same rate as the U.S., it would use 10 mbd. This resource equation goes across all categories and simply represents the difference between a pre-industrial society, Nigeria, and the most industrialized society, the United States.

Massive natural resource use, made available through the harnessing of fossil fuels, defines industrialization and created modernity. It is difficult, if not close to impossible, for the industrialized to look at the pre-industrial world with any sort of objectivity. In fact, just the opposite, the industrial subjectively perceives the pre-industrial with a great deal of pity, scorn and disdain. This is not a new phenomenon of north and south or white and black. From inception, the industrial deplored the agrarian culture that birthed it. Today, one word encompasses the subjective disdain the industrial perceives of the pre-industrial: poverty.

Looking beyond industrial prejudice, striking similarities quickly come into focus. Both Nigeria and the U.S. are former colonies of the old British empire. Both threw off their colonial yokes and established agrarian republics. The U.S. republic founded two centuries ago, went from an agrarian-merchant republic to the most extensively industrialized society on the planet. Nigeria established an agrarian-merchant republic only half a century ago and has since fitfully attempted to industrialize.

As founded, the pre-industrial U.S. republic was a decentralized system, with most government actions taking place at the local and county level. However, as the country industrialized, more and more government decisions and power concentrated in Washington, a direct result of the adoption of industrial technologies. In response, the agrarian governmental system became increasingly incapable of evolving its democratic processes. This politics of technology has never been adequately understood or even acknowledged. Nonetheless, it was the steam engine, cotton gin, railroads, steel mills, etc., and most importantly, the great innovation of social association, the industrial corporation, that over two centuries transformed a highly decentralized political/government infrastructure into an intensely centralized one.

As industrial technology proliferated, local political associations built around local economies and governments gradually degraded and disappeared, replaced by ever more centralized structures built through industrial technologies. De Tocqueville’s independent participatory citizen became both economically dependent and politically marginalized. Today, our “politics” is limited to voting once every two or four years, with overwhelming focus on only one office: the presidency.

With a different technological and political evolution, Nigeria has ended up in the same place. Though Nigeria instituted a republican system, it had few of the European political traditions of the newly independent America and an ethic diversity dwarfing what was the predominate enfranchised Anglo-population of the early American republic. Instead of the foundational local governments of the early American republic, Nigeria’s local political traditions were left out of its institutional framework; in reality, the established colonial structure became the basis for government power.

In many ways, the Nigerian republic was stillborn. The military, the greatest institution of colonial rule, soon grabbed power, ruling for much of Nigeria’s relatively brief independence. Military rule, though facilitated by industrial weaponry, limited further industrial development and political evolution. Nigeria’s government infrastructure, using the limited industrial technology implemented, remains massively centralized. Today, Nigeria finds itself in a similar political situation as the United States. The citizenry has little political role except voting every few years and the presidency is overwhelmingly perceived as the exclusive political power.

Industrial technology played a defining and unacknowledged political role in both countries. In the U.S., the political foundation was hollowed out and disenfranchised through technological evolution. In Nigeria, the bottom was never officially enfranchised, while limited industrial technological implementation was used to create a tenuous centralized authority. Today, both countries’ centralized presidential focused politics look remarkably similar.

In both countries, recent presidential elections were won by a perceived “big-man.” The campaigns were largely television affairs, cable TV playing a much greater role in Donald Trump’s victory than tweets. The main issue for both victors was an economy not working for the majority because of rampant political corruption. Both claimed the election system was rigged against them, and amazingly both, despite winning, still cast allegations. The most alarming similarity was the lack of trust by both populations in almost all institutions, leading to a corresponding inability to separate fact from massive quantities of peddled fiction.

The discussions I had with Ken were around these topics. We had similar questions despite our divergent backgrounds, most striking being our differences of birth. I was born in the center of the world’s greatest oil consuming culture, while Ken was from Nigeria’s Ogoniland, which had the misfortune of sitting on one of the planet’s greatest oil fields. In Illinois and Ogoniland, the liquid fuel of industrialization, oil, defined life. For Illinois, oil consumption created more than a cornucopia, it fostered an orgy of waste defined as wealth. At the other end of the pipeline, oil production for the Ogoni meant the destruction of lives, community and environment on a massive scale.

Having defined human life for the last couple of centuries, the industrial world now rapidly changes, pushed by an unsustainable squandering of resources and a new generation of technology. The quantum-biological era of technology is fast upon us, best exemplified by the growth of the internet in both countries. Just as the politics of industrial technology remains little understood, this new generation of technology increasingly defines life, creating its own politics. Ken and I both agreed this technological evolution would facilitate a different path for Nigeria than the industrial path taken by the United States. For the U.S. it means great changes to the established order, with many changes necessary from a resource/environmental perspective.

The great question is what will politics look like, specifically politics fostering democracy? Or will this new technology simply be used to develop even greater centralized power? The massive implementation of industrial technology ravaged U.S. democratic culture and republican institutions, while Nigeria’s limited industry disenfranchised local culture, creating a politics of stagnation. It was obvious both countries needed to remember their pasts, in which many political decisions were made locally, and vitality and stability could be found in diversity. What is a politics of technology that defines humanity on this increasingly small and existentially stressed planet?

At one point I suggested to Ken that Nigeria had an advantage in all this. Using this new generation of technology, such as the microprocessor and solar photo voltaic, Nigeria could network and revitalize locality, creating a vibrant national order. Nigeria might leapfrog the industrialized U.S. by not having the heavy lift of moving entrenched industrial power, practices and culture. He looked at me, nodded, smiled and broke into a wonderful large laugh. Ken will be remembered.

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  1. Dirk77

    Note that both Nigeria and the US are presidential republics. A friend would argue that a parliamentary system is superior and, paradoxically, would give citizens greater local control.

    1. diptherio

      I would argue with your friend that both systems (really, pretty much all systems) of gov’t are designed to extract wealth and power from the masses, so that they can be concentrated in the hands of a few. That’s their purpose when they are created, and that remains their purpose, regardless of what minor reforms might be made.

        1. Paul Art

          I don’t think human kind is going to rid itself of the shackles of elite rule any time soon. One possible alternative is decentralization to the point where local rule predominates and federal rule becomes marginal and restricted to defense and a few other things. We do have that kind of a system but it has also ossified thanks to the two party system. We need to get rid of the two party system for a start or at least the way in which they rig the machinery so that primaries are coronations instead of real elections. Parlimentary systems are definitely superior because they represent people better purely due to the design and minority parties do get a voice especially when there is deadlock which is endemic in the USA.

        2. fajensen

          Lotteries. I think we should elect all our representatives by random selection from the citizens – maybe with some filtering applied similar to juries (they cannot refuse, no crims allowed and so on).

          Once the representatives are elected, they can elect a president. His/Her job is to break deadlocks.

          The benefits are that politics can never be a career, yes, one can theoretically be selected many times just like one can win the lottery more than once. We get a true representation of the public in parliament and we don’t need political parties which is where most of the non-corrupt people are either compromised to become “one of the boys” or filtered out.

          The problem will be that the ministries will hold the memory of the parliament and thus will have a great deal of power. Lobbyists will probably be able to influence/corrupt “newbies” easier than professional politicians. Some selected people may decide to bilk their election period for as much as they can and/or line themselves up for a golden future within some corporation in return for favours.

          To counter that we need 100% transparency and draconian enforcement.

  2. Cocomaan

    Cool article. I like the idea that Nigeria could create a new political reality by taking a different path than us with regard to tech. the destructive inertia of the current suite of technologies in America is really becoming clear.

    Also, this typo.

    an ethic diversity dwarfing what was the predominate enfranchised Anglo-population of the early American republic. I

      1. cocomaan

        Funny how that works! Keep writing, Nigeria is a fascinating country in a continent few know anything about.

  3. Vatch

    For Illinois, oil consumption created more than a cornucopia, it fostered an orgy of waste defined as wealth. At the other end of the pipeline, oil production for the Ogoni meant the destruction of lives, community and environment on a massive scale.

    Recently, I’ve seen articles saying that sales of low mileage SUVs are up in the United States. People are taking advantage of low gasoline prices, but will the prices stay low for the average life of people’s new SUVs? Gasoline fueled automobiles won’t go away any time soon, because of distances and infrastructure issues, but people can still choose to drive vehicles with good mileage. Instead, they want the status of size, along with the attendant low mileage. Meanwhile, disruption continues in regions with large oil fields. It’s very sad.

  4. Synoia

    Nigeria is totally corrupt. I lived there for 12 years.

    Apartheid Douth Africa was less corrupt. I lived there for 10 years.

    The US is worse, than Nigeri,, but hides its corruptipn under effective layers of PR and markrting.

    1. theinhibitor

      Sorry, but I do not see the parallels much. Firstly, American politics is nowhere near the level of corruption of Nigeria – American corruption comes from essentially insider information & small time bribes. In Nigeria, the political class, like so many other 3rd world countries, raids the coffers, the foreign aid, weapons, etc. with no impunity, blatantly, and with no regard. The ineffectual government, in all matters, propagates down to every level of society. The police are no more than dogs of the government officials: “Police Service Commission Scam investigated by ICPC that revealed misappropriation of over 150 million naira related to election related trainings”.

      Just reading the Wikipedia article on corruption in Nigeria, and just focusing on just the current administration, shows some $10’s of billions vanishing from state funds, company funds, oil funds, etc. while the wife of the current president runs around Paris with suitcases full of Euro’s to the chagrin of apparently everyone but those living in the abject slums of Nigeria.

      You’ve lived there 12 years and you think the US is more corrupt? I don’t even know how to respond to that. Maybe you should read a book by the name of the Locust Effect, which has a few stories told by girls who were repeatedly raped by their fathers, uncles, and even just random passerby’s as they walked bleeding to school in Nigeria. There is no mention of police. There is no court of law. There was no available medical treatment. Its a completely lawless society, at all levels.

      All the parallels written about by Costello are 1″ deep and a kilometer wide – that’s why in this article he stretches the truth as far as it goes. Which isn’t very far. You only need one trip through a Nigerian city to see how wrecked of a country it is. Technology? Oh, I guess Costello must mean the meager bits of things thrown to the East from the West.

      Some hilariously reductionist lines from this article:
      “However, as the country industrialized, more and more government decisions and power concentrated in Washington, a direct result of the adoption of industrial technologies.” – Ever heard of a “robber baron” Costello? Was Rockefeller a politician before he was an multimillionaire? Did the government “adopt” railroad technology before Vanderbilt built his fortune? Obviously not.. Washington didn’t adopt anything. Washnigton was always viewed as a club, a club with the always thinning veneer of democratic principles that pretend to show a determination to follow the will of “the people”, but in reality follow the principles of capitalism: money. A club that in the Gilded Age, was becoming increasingly wealthy and powerful – not only due to technology, but EVERYTHING – they controlled EVERYTHING Joe! – the corner market store, the railroads, the steel mills, the railroad cars, etc. We are seeing the same parallels today with the hyperconsolidation across all industries & rising inequality. You quote Kundera, but clearly haven’t understood the full message.

      “Nonetheless, it was the steam engine, cotton gin, railroads, steel mills, etc., and most importantly, the great innovation of social association, the industrial corporation, that over two centuries transformed a highly decentralized political/government infrastructure into an intensely centralized one.”
      – Once again, Joe, the technology doesn’t “do” anything, nor does it transform a government. WEALTH ACCUMULATION, regardless of technology, spurs centralization, because someone has to keep tabs on the money. Get it? Probably not. The entire article is devoid of any spark. Abject poverty, hyperinflation, Boko Haram, Ebola, are all put aside since they are two distracting from Costello’s 2 piece analysis.

      TL;DR – According to Joe, only tech & energy determine the course of human history, and America and Nigeria, are like, besties.

      1. joecostello

        Me thinks thou protest too much, must have hit a nerve. You’re reading Wikipedia as your prime source on Nigeria corruption? And you want to be taking seriously? Nonetheless….

        Your thinking is more than confused, for example on the “robber barons”, what i say in the piece is industrial technology facilitated political and economic centralization, and yes the government was hand-in-hand with industry, ever hear of the land grants they gave to the railroads?

        Can you tell me what the value of 150 million Naira is? Here, I’ll give you a hint N500 to $1 today, that’s $300,000, would you like to compare that to hundreds of billions of dollars looted by the US banks just in the subprime scam, or the $80 billion lost in California alone in the electricity scam in 2000, or the revolving door between government and corporations, or how about the $300 million the Clintons made since 2000?

        Well anyway, your argument gets a little more confused. So, Ill end by saying capitalism is a technological ethos and structure. I explain this all in my upcoming long read on the “Origin of Politics,” which I have no doubt yourself and others will take great umbrage, but that doesn’t in anyway lessen the fact the politics of technology is a little understood defining force in the history of the species Homo sapiens and with this new generation of technology, we better come to understand it.

        1. theinhibitor

          First of all, my argument was with how you completely gloss over salient details of Nigeria – for example, you mention the agrarian boom, but fail to mention how amidst the boom, the general population starved, rendering the heath indices of Nigeria to some of the lowest in the world. This is not like America at all. It doesn’t even draw many parallels. You basically point out the oil boom and use this as what exactly? Some massive evidence that oil created tremendous wealth > population increase > bigger government? Once again, Brazil experienced the same. India too. China. Russia. Name me ONE country where the technological advancement/oil boom of the 21st century did NOT result in the expansion of population, and as a result, centralization of government? Am I missing something here?

          Speaking of Brazil, Nigeria reads much more like Brazil’s history than most others: full of the same brazen political looting, coups, amalgamation of police & military, genocides, periods of mass starvation, the non-existent court system, HUGE racial/religious divides etc. Instead, you say its similar to America – slave built America. The irony is…tremendous.

          Also, once again, technology doesn’t act – it doesn’t lead government. In fact, all evidence points to a slow, gradual acceptance & then regulation of technology in politics. And historically, technology marches on, not always in a straight line, but government is all over the place and is dependent on culture, religion, location, socio-economics, almost least of all technology. If you look at India’s history for example, there were great periods of consolidation of power followed by waning or splintering of various ruling groups while technology always continued its march forward. Maybe I’m harsh to judge because your view is reminiscent of the way Friedman thinks – this weird teleological, detail-less view of complicated events/systems rendered into 2D – so that the reader is left with nothing but a stupid graph. But I WILL buy your book and read it.

          Also, no idea what the naira analogy is referring too. When I wrote $10 billion, I was being conservative (1) and yes it was supposed to be in US $ (2). Im talking about TRILLIONS of nairas. Plus, do you think the political class uses naira? The only people that use naira are the ones that are forced to use it. When they loot the coffers/foreign aid, its almost always in Euro’s or USD.

          And here you go once again: “…politics of technology is a little understood defining force in the history of the species Homo sapiens and with this new generation of technology, we better come to understand it.”

          You take two hugely general words, “politics” and “technology”, combine them, and then tell me that this is a “little understood defining force”? You cant claim the general to be little understood. Its general i.e. everyone understands in theory. Politics and technology are especially some of the most widely written and historically preserved aspects of human life! The intersection is merely that of two humongous variables that are so broad and complex, that you would have to pinpoint a specific time, era, and place to even begin to speak about it. Even if you limit yourself to capitalism in the 21st century, the number of examples and counter-examples of technology moving and reacting with government are astounding!

          If I sound harsh, I do not mean to. I will buy your book once it comes out. I hope this article was merely some sort of weirdly generic summary.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            I suggest you read up on the history of the building of the railroads in the US and the massive, deeply corrupt speculation in railroad stocks. It makes Enron look tame. Needless to say, it does not fit your tidy picture.

            Nor do I see the US fitting your claim regarding regulation of technology. The trajectory has been in the other direction since the 1970s, resulting in more and more abuse of monopoly/oligopoly power.

            Costello does have a big point regarding what “technology” is considered to be, which you brush past. Method patents of the obvious? Pharmaceutical “new drug applications” which are overwhelmingly minor reformulations of existing drugs (like time release) that allow for patent lives to be extended? Outsourcing, which in many cases was not value added to the company but allowed for a transfer of income from factory workers to upper management?

          2. joecostello

            Friend, first you shouldn’t hide behind anonymity, let people know who you are and where you’re coming from, especially when you have such an established view of how the world works and are very sensitive to expanding it. I find your view that America can in no way be compared to Nigeria immensely amusing and ignorant, and very American.

            Again you’re all over the board starting with, “Also, no idea what the naira analogy is referring too” when in your first post you specifically wrote, “Police Service Commission Scam investigated by ICPC that revealed misappropriation of over 150 million naira related to election related trainings” So does this mean you don’t even pay attention to what you write, and if so why should others? Then you throw out a bunch of meaningless numbers, just upping the amount as if that were to make your argument more valid. But anyone who has spent anytime in Nigeria, and this is one of the things Ken and I talked, knows one should be really really suspect of all figures, as the infrastructure to get accurate counts on many things doesn’t exist.

            I started out in my essay saying very specifically there’s differences between Nigeria and the US, but what is most striking and maybe most valuable for US is understanding the similarities.

            You write “Also, once again, technology doesn’t act – it doesn’t lead government.” This is my point, that this is conventional wisdom and it is conventionally wrong. Technology does indeed act, industrial technology created capitalism, the automobile created the suburbs, broadcast media created pop culture – all elements of politics. We are now at a point where a new generation of technology is creating an entirely new environment.

            Established stories, the cultural beliefs of how the world works are significant tools of power, have been across history. Whats been missing or given far short shrift is all technology comes with some sort of politics. Presently, the world grows ever more unstable as the stories/culture, particularly those concerning economics of the last decades, century and centuries fail to accurately account the plot, while technology evolves ever more rapidly. Clinging ever tighter to failing schools of thought isnt going to help anyone.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        LOL American corruption comes from essentially insider information & small time bribes
        That’s a real knee-slapper
        Ask the Fed where the $16 *trillion* (GAO number) went? Or what the GDP of the Delaware global money laundering nation is? Or maybe ask KFC how they priced their multi-multi-million $ no-bid contract to sling fried chicken on military bases from Afghanistan to Argentina?
        So long as we have people who are *willfully blind* to the pervasive *American Grift Machine* we’ll keep getting the same result: half the world’s assets held by 8 (mostly American) guys.

        1. theinhibitor

          So what your saying, is that the Fed looted $16 trillion from the coffers of America like the Nigerian president stole from the Treasury? At least the Fed has the decency to amortize the losses, and not directly give the money to, say, the President’s family.

          For as much as I loathe American politics, having seen other political systems in action (most notably Greece, Nigeria, Korea, and China), you quickly realize how lucky you have it in America. And yes, most corruption in America is insider information – and that can lead to all types of fraud, some big, some small – whether it be knowledge of land grants, legal tax evasion, movements in the market economy, etc. Also, insider information, AKA, contacts, is how the no-bid game works.

          Furthermore, no-bid contracts have been going on since, literally, the beginning of time. What do you think they called it when the king gave a contract to a duke without a bid? Are you seriously that naïve to think that I’m “willfully blind”? I just have a root in reality. Good luck on your quest to change human nature – I don’t think you will get far.

          You specifically call it the American Grift Machine. What about the China Grift Machine (which is arguably a LOT larger and more pervasive than the American one)? Half the worlds assets used to be owned by the East India Trading Company (a couple of British guys)! Before that, Romans owned arguably 80% of the worlds wealth and technology! Before that, it was the Egyptians!

          Nothing’s new in the realm of the human ego & greed. I just don’t try to pretend America is in 3rd world country dire straits.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            None other than Simon Johnson, who was chief economist of the IMF and thus very familiar with how corrupt emerging economies operated, called the bailouts “a silent coup” in Harpers. It was the greatest transfer of wealth from the public purse in history.

            Johnson depicted the situation of the US as similar to that of very corrupt economies (he mentioned Ukraine, which is is fabulously corrupt):

            Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason—the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit—and, most of the time, genteel—oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders. When a country like Indonesia or South Korea or Russia grows, so do the ambitions of its captains of industry. As masters of their mini-universe, these people make some investments that clearly benefit the broader economy, but they also start making bigger and riskier bets. They reckon—correctly, in most cases—that their political connections will allow them to push onto the government any substantial problems that arise….

            But inevitably, emerging-market oligarchs get carried away; they waste money and build massive business empires on a mountain of debt. Local banks, sometimes pressured by the government, become too willing to extend credit to the elite and to those who depend on them. Overborrowing always ends badly, whether for an individual, a company, or a country. Sooner or later, credit conditions become tighter and no one will lend you money on anything close to affordable terms.

            The downward spiral that follows is remarkably steep. Enormous companies teeter on the brink of default, and the local banks that have lent to them collapse. Yesterday’s “public-private partnerships” are relabeled “crony capitalism.” With credit unavailable, economic paralysis ensues, and conditions just get worse and worse.

            Squeezing the oligarchs, though, is seldom the strategy of choice among emerging-market governments. Quite the contrary: at the outset of the crisis, the oligarchs are usually among the first to get extra help from the government, such as preferential access to foreign currency, or maybe a nice tax break, or—here’s a classic Kremlin bailout technique—the assumption of private debt obligations by the government. Under duress, generosity toward old friends takes many innovative forms. Meanwhile, needing to squeeze someone, most emerging-market governments look first to ordinary working folk—at least until the riots grow too large.


            You are correct in saying that the US is lucky. We are so rich we can take a lot more corruption before the system started breaking down, and even then, our decay path has been a lot more gradual than for that of a much more fragile emerging economy. Johnson also (unintentionally, I think) stressed how currency crises force a day of reckoning upon the oligarchs. With the having the reserve currency and no replacement in sight for the next 30 years (China cannot afford to run sustained trade deficits and export jobs), that check is absent.


    Interesting analysis on centralized political power, as a natural response to a centralized economy, not as a pure power grab. Perhaps explains why so many on the right clamor for political decentralization, as it leaves the centralized private sector with more power?

    1. Synoia

      Perhaps explains why so many on the right clamor for political decentralization

      Only when the right is not in power.

    2. Massinissa

      Isnt it a fallacy to assume something is bad just because a certain disliked group supports it?

      1. PKMKII

        I’m not making a judgement call on centralization of political power, I’m just making an observation on the politics surrounding it.

  6. Abi

    Really excited to this comparison on here. As a Nigerian researcher, who lives and works in Lagos your observations cannot be truer. I have always thought of Nigerian being currently at the same place America was before the civil war. Interesting that you point out how technology can localize our politics again, social media was a decisive factor in the recent elections, I see it shaping future political participation especially among the youth demographic. This is also interesting against the backdrop of America’s use of it.

  7. lyman alpha blob

    “…oil production for the Ogoni meant the destruction of lives, community and environment on a massive scale.”

    Maybe the author assumes everyone is already aware, but it is worth noting that Ken’s father, Ken Saro Wiwa Sr., was hanged to death in 1995 after a corrupt trial for protesting against the western oil interests that were and still are ravaging Nigeria.

    1. joecostello

      Yes, most Americans unaware of Nigerian history and its direct umbilical oil tie, and Ken’s father lost his life to the Nigerian military junta and the oil companies. Tragic

  8. Winston

    UK and all its former colonies give local governments little autonomy. It is really a striking similarity! EU found UK, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus provide least local autonomy among 28 European countries! Canadian local reps pleading for more autonomy right now! But they have more power than Australians. Meanwhile local governments across US have limited power to varying degrees! This is one reason rust belts festering. Hey the NE rust belt still festering and Gee how long has it been around????

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