Policemen keeping the peace stops and searches youths on the Buguma Road in Ogbakiri, about 50 kilometres from the oil city of Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta: Armed groups have been demanding autonomy and greater control over oil resources in the Niger Delta.
Tony Eluemunor has written a fascinating summary of the current Nigerian political situation with his article Nigeria faces a tunnel at the end of the light. Conflict is increasing in the Delta region, and seems to be expanding, as this report would indicate. There are more violent actions, and more threats of violent action.

As Eluemunor reports, Yar’Adua’s election is still under a challenge that may succeed. If the challenge is successful, Nigeria’s constititution may not be up to the resulting situation.

So far, tribunals have invalidated the elections of five state governors.
. . .
It is expected that over 26 of Nigeria’s 36 state governors will be thrown out by the tribunals over election rigging, thus giving a judicial approval to the widely held belief that the polls were flawed.

The presidential election could also be invalidated. The President could remain in office, or the Senate President might temporarily take over. If the election is invalidated, the constitution mandates a new election must be held within three months.

This time frame would be the real source of the danger. A large percentage of Nigerians have no faith in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) leadership, which has been roundly condemned for conducting the worst election in modern times, to handle the expected presidential elections. This mistrust is buttressed by the fact it has been demonstrated that the INEC chief was sponsored into that sensitive position by Uba, a former aide to Obasanjo, whose election as Anambra State Governor lasted for only three weeks.
. . . An updated voters’ register is long overdue and its preparation will certainly take more than 90 days.
. . .
There is also the possibility of having an interim national government, which the Obasanjo camp is waiting for as is the former military president Ibrahim Babangida’s group.

Yar’Adua faces opposition within his own, and from opposition political parties. His own party may oppose him as candidate. The opposition is gearing up. And Obasanjo is still manuvering for legislation that would allow him a third term.

Nigerians may not know it but the man Obasanjo used to ram in support for his failed third term bid and in getting the last April polls to go his way, Nuhu Ribadu, has become active again in advancing pro-Obasanjo plans. Ribadu is the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman.
. . .
Ribadu’s used his anti-corruption agency to discredit Obasanjo’s political enemies ahead of the April 2007 elections . . . To show that INEC was insincere, scarcely any of those so barred from the polls have been prosecuted six months after.

(Sounds a bit likes Bush’s Department of Justice trying to indict Democrats before the 2004 election.)

In the Delta the Navy says it is preparing to handle the insurgency in the country’s Niger Delta region because the region had become more complex for ordinary security agencies to manage.
. . .
The belligerence in the area was being subdued when on September 3, Henry Okah a kingpin in the Niger Delta insurgency and his seafaring companion, Captain Edward Atata were arrested in Angola for alleged gun running. Okah became prominent two years ago when he demanded the release of two Ijaws then facing trial – former Bayelsa Governor Diepriye Alamaiseye and Asari Dokubo, head of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force.

When the two men were released, Okah announced that MEND would unilaterally cease hostilities for a while to allow the newly elected Yar’Adua time to settle down and work on his electoral promises. Thus, while other armed Delta militias degenerated into hostage-taking and were being denounced as mere criminals, MEND remained above that recrimination and even threatened to join government forces in ending the hostage-menace.
Okah’s arrest in Angola has derailed the rapprochement between MEND and the government that had been achieved after President Yar’Adua’s inauguration in May 2007.
. . .
The Delta insurgency looks certain to become worse next year as the MEND accuses the government of conniving with Angola to arrest Okah. However, Yar’Adua’s request that Angola should extradite Okah to face trial in Nigeria is bound to keep the MEND belligerence in check, at least until it becomes clear whether the government would jail Okah or release him to appease to the people of the Niger Delta.
But as things are, even if Okah were allowed to walk away a free man on his return from Angola, there would be a new cause for concern with the rivalry between two militant groups in the delta escalating into a turf war.
This rivalry heightened when the leader of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force, Alhaji Asari Dokubo hailed Okah’s arrest describing him as a mere criminal. It would appear that there is no way out of the dilemma.
If Okah is held and tried in Nigeria, his movement will take
to arms whereas Dakubo will cause problems if the rival goes scot-free.

Shell is already talking about moving some operations out of the Delta, and the other oil majors may follow. So Nigeria may face financial setbacks that will exacerbate the political problems.

As Eluemunor concludes:

If Yar’Adua’s election is not nullified, the storm may die out. If it is, a titanic fight that might see the generals in power again could break out. People have began to speak about this possibility in hushed tones but there is a feeling that a military government would be resisted, its excuse of restoring sanity and filling a power vacuum notwithstanding. The military option emerged during Obasanjo’s bid for a third team. Unfortunately, it has not fully receded and the feared power vacuum, should the polls be annulled, is not making things any better.

I recommend you read the full article: Nigeria faces a tunnel at the end of the light. It certainly makes it a bit more clear why Yar’Adua might want to trade up godfathers, as some have said he did while visiting Bush in Washington, notably The Independent, Yar’Adua’s Washington Diplomatic Gaffe:

The quid pro qui from the US for Yar’Adua’s government for endorsing the AFRICOM idea is the pledge to help him surmount the political brickbats being hauled at him from both his own political party, the PDP, and the opposition parties. The US government knows that Yar’Adua’s government lacks legitimacy. Yet, Bush deliberately refused to comment on the election heavily censured by both local and international observers. By so doing, the US president left open a tiny window of blackmail. This is pay back time and the American establishment is pulling the strings.
It is not by mere coincidence that Yar’Adua’s state visit to the US came at a time when it is rumoured that he may have lost favour with the PDP hawks, who have reportedly concluded plans, in the even of the tribunal annulling the presidential polls and calling for fresh election, to field a presidential candidate other than Yar’Adua. This is what happens when a government lacks legitimacy as Yar’Adua’s obviously does. The man at the driver’s seat looks up to external forces to sustain himself in power rather than the people that elected him. But it is a dangerous gamble. In a world where the unwritten code of international engagement seems to be, as Bush himself once put it “you are either with us or against us,” all those fighting US global hegemony are bound to see Nigeria as an adversary, being a military ally of their enemy, the US.

His announcement about “partnering” and AFRICOM has scandalized Nigeria and the continent, where many people feel, as it says in Business Day:

[T]he American-led war on terrorism was designed primarily to “secure Western access to other people’s natural resources without being ready to pay economic market prices and compensations for these resources.