Quick one on 26 September

Cheta Nwanze
3 min readSep 26, 2022


On Freshly Pressed today with Shopsy we talked about the Police Inspector General’s claim that they have seized 123 oil vessels and started prosecution.

I found it funny…

One of the big problems of Nigeria’s media is this inability to ask the hard questions of power. So the IGP released a statement claiming that the police has arrested 123 oil vessels including lorries, and the reporter and his editor rushed it out to press without asking the most fundamental question: “Arrested 123 since when?”

This question is important because for all we know it could be that they’ve arrested 123 oil theft vessels since 1960. The data on rising oil theft and smuggling certainly makes it seem that way, and this is best illustrated by the story of MV Heroic Idun.

For those of you who may want to forget, an oil supertanker, with a storage capacity of 3 million barrels (which is more than 2 days of Nigeria’s entire oil production) was in Nigerian water for days, and no one saw it. Then it left Nigeria fully loaded with oil and was only arrested by Equatorial Guinea. Is there any other story that illustrates the failure of Nigeria’s security services?

Heck, even Nigeria’s political class are making their views known as this story in the Punch indicates. More of them are buying bullet-proof vehicles. And it is natural.

For those who may think that it is because of the attack on Ifeanyi Ubah about a fortnight ago, it is not. The story makes it clear that demand has been rising since about March, a clear six months before some chaps shot up Ubah’s convoy. What the attack on Ubah simply proves in a perverse way is that those buying bullet-proof vehicles are right to do so if they want to protect their lives.

If you can afford it, especially for those who move between towns, then you pad up your car, it’s that simple.

Think of it this way: just yesterday I had to book a quick flight from Lagos to Abuja (the flight leaves today) and the cost of the return ticket is ₦180k. Even the upper middle class will find that sudden expense a lot, so more people will hit the roads.

Three weeks ago, I had to travel from Lagos to Onicha. I did it by road. As we got onto the bus at Jibowu, the first thing the driver said was, “We no dey use Bini bypass again, because d road don scatter and world people full am.”

That is an exact quote.

A bad road and fears of kidnap have added two hours to the journey because it is better to spend two hours in traffic in Benin than to spend untold amounts on ransom payments. Unfortunately, this creates a vicious cycle because it means that fewer people take to the skies, meaning that economies of scale collapse and in order to maintain their businesses, the airlines will have to raise ticket prices even more…

Yet some people called into the show to criticise my stance that Nigeria is a failed state and is not at war despite all the evidence.

It will definitely be too late before some ostriches bring their heads out of the dune they’ve chosen to bury them in…



Cheta Nwanze

Using big data to understand West Africa one country (or is it region?) at a time.