John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Nigeria: Are Security Concerns in the North Trumping Oil Sector Reform?

by John Campbell
November 17, 2011

Burnt vehicles are seen at the ECWA church compound in New Jerusalem area of Damaturu, Yobe state, North east Nigeria, November 8, 2011. (Olatunji Omirin/Courtesy Reuters)

According to the press, on November 16 President Goodluck Jonathan tried to make the case for the removal of the fuel subsidy to both houses of the National Assembly in a special meeting at Aso Villa, Nigeria’s White House. Removal of the subsidy — advocated by international economists as fundamental to reforming the petroleum industry and putting government finance on a sound footing — is highly unpopular in impoverished Nigeria, and successive administrations have failed to achieve it.

The president’s meeting was behind closed doors, and reports that have leaked are contradictory. However, the bottom line appears to be that the president failed to convince the legislators that now is the time to remove the subsidy. Instead, the legislators urged the president to address the country’s “security problems,” almost certainly a reference to the depredations of the radical Islamic movement Boko Haram in the North. There are rumors, roundly denied, that there was a move among the Senators to pass a vote of no confidence in the president because of his administration’s inadequate response to the security situation in the North.

Meetings between the president and the legislators on the oil subsidy are expected to continue. But yesterday’s episode is an indication that the security situation in the North now dominates political discourse in Nigeria. The northern elites in the National Assembly are likely to feel particularly vulnerable because Boko Haram has targeted prominent Muslims whom it regards as having “sold out” to the Jonathan administration and the secular federal government in Abuja.

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  • Posted by Maduka

    Its not the just the North that is against removing the fuel subsidy, the entire nation is against it.

    The political costs far outweigh the potential benefits, and this is crystal clear to the man on the street – who needs petrol to fuel his generator, expects his transport fare to rise and whose wife uses kerosene to cook.

    This might not be clear to Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala and her friends at the World Bank/IMF who move between NICON Hilton and Asokoro.

    Government also has a serious perception problem. If the PDP can’t fix the Benin-Ore road after 13 years in power, no one believes they can competently deregulate the Oil and Gas sector.

    P.S: to get of feel of what Nigerians are saying, look at Jonathan’s facebook page.

    If no “vote of no confidence” was passed when Yar’adua was president, it not likely to be passed with Jonathan.

  • Posted by P.Ighofose (a.k.a Truthism)

    The problem regarding Nigeria originates with corruption. As the CNN article “Al Qaeda-linked group finds fertile territory in Nigeria as killings escalate” mentions, Nigeria’s infrastructure is broken, poverty is endemic and the masses are on the verge of breaking point. Religion has been hijacked by both Xtians and Islamist for personal agenda. The USA and the West should not sit back because this problem is going to come crashing on its doorstep, we are talking of cut of >6% worldwide oil production, the possibility of ethnic massacre of which Rwanda will be child’s play creating mass immigration problems internationally. The solution is simple, hold Nigerian leaders, local / Multinational Business, Individuals to account, (how do certain people have $billion’s in foreign account), ensure that all international intelligence service leak details to the media regarding what is happening. Alas, this will not happen, too many Government and multinational’s have interest in maintaining the status quo. Mark my word, when Nigeria explode, the world will implode and feel the effect of 160,000,000 at its doorstep. Time is running out.
    Addendum: Mr John Campbell and all right thinking humanist please expose Nigerian leaders and individuals before it is too late. Nigerians do not want refugee status or international aid after the event.

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