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Nigeria will be following the footstep of France and in less than 24 hours will commence the deployment of her military forces to Mali. Earlier, even before France throw in her hat in the Mali war theater in order to defeat the Northern Islamist in that country, The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has pre-arranged to deploy a contingency plan of 3200 force.
Associated Press reported that "Nigerian defense spokesman Col. Mohammed Yerima said Tuesday that Nigeria will send about 900 troops to Mali.The announcement comes as West African nations pledge support for a French-led mission to oust Islamic extremists from Mali.French President Francois Hollande launched an attack on the militants, who are linked to al-Qaida, last week after the rebels began advancing south.France's action pre-empted a United Nations-approved plan for a military operation in Mali, which was expected to start about nine months from now. Hollande decided that a military response to the extremists could not wait that long."
Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika said at the Armed Forces Remembrance Day while laying the wreath to commemorate the ceremony that Mali's insecurity is a threat to the regional's security.
This will not be the first time Nigeria has intervened in African hotpots, Nigeria's intervention in Liberia and Sierra Leon have been helpful to the cultivating of democracy and peace in those former war torn nations. In 2003, the Nigeria led ECOWAS military deployment chased away Charles Taylor, former president from Liberia .Since then democracy has flourish in Liberia and Charles Taylor has been convicted by United Nations backed International court of justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In same year of 2003, there was also an African peacekeeping mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan in 2004 to resolve the western Darfur atrocities. Some of these missions can be characterized as success while others like western Darfur were a failure.
Even the successful interventions were sometimes muddled and disorganized, out of track without a well thought plan. Many civilians were misplaced and the collateral damages could have been minimized. But this does not mean that ECOWAS or AU will not be given thumps up and kudos for their initiatives and interventions in hot spots of Africa.
"Many African countries including Nigeria, Somalia, Congo, Sudan and others made the list of 2012 Failed States complied by The Fund for Peace (TFP). Nigeria was ranked among the top 10 failed states in Africa and 14th in the global index of Failed states." - AFRIPOL
Somalia ranked most troubled state for 5th straight year; Finland remains at best position; Libya, Japan and Syria Tumble.
The Fund for Peace today released the eighth edition of its annual Failed States Index (FSI), highlighting global political, economic and social pressures experienced by states.
The 2012 FSI ranks Somalia as number one for the fifth consecutive year, citing widespread lawlessness, ineffective government, terrorism, insurgency, crime, and well-publicized pirate attacks against foreign vessels.
Meanwhile, Finland has remained in the best position, with its Scandinavian neighbors Sweden and Denmark rounding out the best three rankings. All three nations benefit from strong social and economic indicators, paired with excellent provision of public services and respect for human rights and the rule of law.
The FSI ranks 178 countries using 12 social, economic, and political indicators of pressure on the state, along with over 100 sub-indicators. These include such issues as Uneven Development, State Legitimacy, Group Grievance, and Human Rights. Each indicator is rated on a scale of 1-10, based on the analysis of millions of publicly available documents, other quantitative data, and assessments by analysts. A high score indicates high pressure on the state, and therefore a higher risk of instability.
Other notable changes this year include countries affected by the Arab Spring. Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Tunisia all ranked significantly worse than the previous year. Libya’s decline was the most remarkable, with the country registering the worst year-on-year worsening in the history of the FSI as a result of civil war, a NATO-led campaign of airstrikes and the toppling of the Qaddhafi regime. Similarly, Syria registered the fourth-greatest year-on-year worsening in the history of the FSI as the campaign of violence by the Assad government took hold.
In the wake of the massive earthquake and resultant nuclear crisis, Japan also worsened significantly. Though Japan continues to rank among the best seven percent of countries, Japan’s near-record worsening on the FSI demonstrates how susceptible even the most stable of nations are to sudden shocks.
Greece continued to decline as the economic crisis has gripped the country. A loss of confidence in the state, coinciding with the state’s lessened capacity to provide public services, have led to growing social pressures.
The Fund for Peace assessed South Sudan this year for the first time after the new nation gained its independence in the second half of 2011. Though the FSI does not formally rank South Sudan due to an incomplete year of data, the young nation nevertheless would have ranked approximately fourth, immediately behind its northern neighbor, Sudan. South Sudan’s fragile infrastructure, severe poverty, weak government, fraught relations with Sudan and heavy reliance on oil continue to be of concern.
Kyrgyzstan is the most improved nation, rebounding from a marked fall the previous year that was precipitated by the mid-2010 revolution that led to significant political reforms and ultimately a stable transition of power.
Krista Hendry, the Executive Director of The Fund for Peace, said the value of the FSI is in its application on the ground by governments, media, civil society and others to consider and work to improve the underlying conditions of conflict.
“We assess 178 countries because we recognize that all countries have pressures upon them that need to be managed. The difference between livelihoods within the countries is largely a product of the capacity of the state and society. This year we will develop a capacity index to test our assumption that states manage pressures better when they have open societies with strong state institutions based on the rule of law and democracy,” Ms. Hendry said.
THE RANKING LIST
1 Somalia 114.9
2 Congo (D. R.) 111.2
3 Sudan 109.4
n/r South Sudan* 108.4
4 Chad 107.6
5 Zimbabwe 106.3
6 Afghanistan 106.0
7 Haiti 104.9
8 Yemen 104.8
9 Iraq 104.3
10 Central African Republic 103.8
11 Cote d'Ivoire 103.6
12 Guinea 101.9
13 Pakistan 101.6
14 Nigeria 101.1
15 Guinea Bissau 99.2
16 Kenya 98.4
17 Ethiopia 97.9
18 Burundi 97.5
18 Niger 96.9
20 Uganda 96.5
21 Myanmar 96.2
22 North Korea 95.5
23 Eritrea 94.5
23 Syria 94.5
25 Liberia 93.3
26 Cameroon 93.1
27 Nepal 93.0
28 Timor-Leste 92.7
29 Bangladesh 92.2
29 Sri Lanka 92.2
31 Sierra Leone 90.4
31 Egypt 90.4
33 Congo (Republic) 90.1
34 Iran 89.6
35 Rwanda 89.3
36 Malawi 88.8
37 Cambodia 88.7
38 Mauritania 87.6
39 Togo 87.5
39 Uzbekistan 87.5
41 Burkina Faso 87.4
41 Kyrgyzstan 87.4
43 Equatorial Guinea 86.3
44 Zambia 85.9
45 Lebanon 85.8
46 Tajikistan 85.7
47 Solomon Islands 85.6
48 Laos 85.5
48 Angola 85.1
50 Libya 84.9
51 Georgia 84.8
52 Colombia 84.4
53 Dijbouti 83.8
54 Papua New Guinea 83.7
55 Swaziland 83.5
56 Philippines 83.2
57 Comoros 83.0
58 Madagascar 82.5
59 Mozambique 82.4
59 Bhutan 82.4
61 Israel/West Bank 82.2
62 Bolivia 82.1
63 Indonesia 80.6
63 Gambia 80.6
65 Fiji 80.5
66 Tanzania 80.4
67 Ecuador 80.1
68 Azerbaijan 79.8
69 Nicaragua 79.8
70 Guatemala 79.8
71 Senegal 79.8
72 Lesotho 79.8
73 Moldova 79.8
74 Benin 79.8
75 Honduras 79.8
76 China 79.8
77 Algeria 79.8
78 India 79.8
79 Mali 79.8
79 Bosnia and Herzegovina 79.8
81 Turkmenistan 79.8
82 Venezuela 79.8
83 Russia 79.8
84 Thailand 79.8
85 Turkey 79.8
85 Belarus 79.8
87 Morocco 79.8
88 Maldives 79.8
89 Serbia 79.8
90 Jordan 79.8
91 Cape Verde 79.8
92 Gabon 79.8
93 El Salvador 79.8
94 Tunisia 79.8
95 Dominican Republic 79.8
96 Vietnam 79.8
97 Sao Tome 79.8
98 Mexico 79.8
99 Peru 79.8
100 Saudi Arabia 79.8
101 Cuba 79.8
102 Armenia 79.8
103 Micronesia 79.8
104 Guyana 79.8
105 Suriname 79.8
106 Namibia 79.8
107 Paraguay 79.8
107 Kazakhstan 79.8
109 Macedonia 69.1
110 Samoa 68.5
110 Malaysia 68.5
112 Ghana 67.5
113 Ukraine 67.2
113 Belize 67.2
115 South Africa 66.8
115 Cyprus 66.8
117 Botswana 66.5
118 Albania 66.1
119 Jamaica 65.8
120 Seychelles 65.1
121 Grenada 65.0
122 Trinidad 64.4
123 Brazil 64.1
123 Brunei 64.1
125 Bahrain 62.2
126 Romania 59.5
127 Antigua & Barbuda 58.9
128 Kuwait 58.8
129 Mongolia 58.7
130 Bulgaria 56.3
130 Croatia 56.3
132 Panama 56.1
133 Montenegro 55.5
134 Bahamas 55.1
135 Barbados 52.0
136 Latvia 51.9
137 Oman 51.7
138 Greece 50.4
139 Costa Rica 49.7
140 United Arab Emirates 48.9
141 Hungary 48.3
142 Qatar 48.0
143 Estonia 47.5
144 Slovakia 47.4
145 Argentina 46.5
145 Italy 45.8
147 Mauritius 44.7
148 Poland 44.3
149 Lithuania 44.2
150 Malta 43.8
151 Chile 43.5
151 Japan 43.5
153 Spain 42.8
154 Uruguay 40.5
155 Czech Republic 39.5
156 South Korea 37.6
157 Singapore 35.6
158 United Kingdom 35.3
159 United States 34.8
160 Portugal 34.2
161 Slovenia 34.0
162 France 33.6
163 Belgium 33.5
164 Germany 31.7
165 Australia 29.2
166 Iceland 29.1
167 Netherlands 28.1
168 Austria 27.5
169 Canada 26.8
170 Ireland 26.5
171 New Zealand 25.6
172 Luxembourg 25.5
173 Norway 23.9
174 Switzerland 23.3
175 Denmark 23.0
176 Sweden 21.3
177 Finland 20.0
The Fund for Peace (FFP) is an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit research and educational organization that works to prevent violent conflict and promote sustainable security. FFP promote sustainable security through research, training and education, engagement of civil society, building bridges across diverse sectors, and developing innovative technologies and tools for policy makers.
FFP is a leader in the conflict assessment and early warning field, the Fund for Peace focuses on the problems of weak and failing states. Our objective is to create practical tools and approaches for conflict mitigation that are useful to decision-makers.
Washington, DC — Opening statement of U.S. Senator Chris Coons, as prepared for delivery on March 29, 2012:
I am pleased to chair this hearing of the African Affairs Subcommittee, which will focus on Nigeria and issues of security, governance, and trade. I would like to welcome our distinguished witnesses - Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Sharon Cromer, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa at USAID; and Paul Marin, Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa at the U.S. Trade and Development Agency - and thank them for joining us today. Our witnesses have extensive experience and expertise in a range of issues relevant to Nigeria, and I look forward to their testimony.
I am especially pleased to be joined by my good friend and Ranking Member, Senator Isakson, with whom I traveled to Nigeria last June. Our trip came on the heels of last year's elections and President Goodluck Jonathan's inauguration. It was a time defined by uncertainty about Nigeria's future and cautious optimism about President Jonathan's leadership. The elections - while far from perfect - marked a dramatic improvement from the violence and lack of transparency that marred past elections. At the same time, there was post-election violence that killed hundreds and demonstrated lingering communal tensions that continues to this day. During our visit, we were particularly impressed with the Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, for his leadership and commitment to electoral reform, which allowed Nigeria to hold the most transparent elections in its history.
One year later, Nigeria today faces serious challenges, including an increasingly sophisticated and deadly wave of extremism, pervasive corruption, and growing levels of income inequality and poverty. With more than 155 million people, Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation and its second-largest economy after South Africa. As Africa's largest producer of oil and one of the top five suppliers of oil to the United States, Nigeria plays an important role in the global economy. The maps that I will refer to illustrate the underdevelopment of the North and the growing need for President Jonathan to bridge persistent geographic, sectarian, and economic divides between North and South.
The wealth in Nigeria is largely concentrated in the South, as demonstrated by the first map, which also indicates the southern concentration of oil resources. Nigeria's economy continues to rely disproportionately on oil, which accounts for 80 percent of government revenues and 95 percent of export earnings. Poverty levels are rising, with more than 60 percent of the population living on less than a dollar a day, and indicators such as income distribution, health, and literacy indicate a sharp North-South divide.
The second map demonstrates the clear distinction between northern states, where less than 10% of children are typically vaccinated and southern states, where the percentage is significantly higher, often 30% or more. And this map demonstrates a clear distinction between North and South when it comes to female literacy rates, which is less than 20% in a majority of northern states and more than 50% in a majority of southern states.
Nigeria also faces nationwide problems including corruption, instability, and economic mismanagement which have hampered economic opportunity. With its growing population and significant resources, Nigeria holds enormous economic potential and I believe the U.S. can play a critical role in helping to diversify the Nigerian economy beyond oil and gas, expand its power system infrastructure, address widespread transparency problems, and strengthen rule of law.
In this regard, I was pleased that the State Department recently led a trade mission to Abuja and Lagos focused on expanding U.S. investment in Nigeria's energy sector. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about prospects for deepening U.S. economic engagement in Nigeria and partnering with the public and private sectors to address problems with the electric grid, which remains one of the biggest obstacles to Nigeria's economic expansion.
Nigeria's growing population represents an important market for U.S. goods, but rising security concerns have hampered investment. In the past two years, Boko Haram, a violent northern-based Islamic extremist group, has launched increasingly sophisticated attacks on civilians, government and police installations, and the United Nations headquarters building in Abuja. In fact, only six months after Senator Isakson and I met with the Archbishop and Imam of Abuja, Boko Haram launched attacks on Catholic churches in and around Abuja, killing dozens of people after the celebration of Christmas mass.
This last graph demonstrates the sharp rise in the number of attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram in the past year. As you can see, between 2003 and 2009, the number of attacks was minimal, averaging one or two annually. In 2010, however, the number of attacks rose to 30. Alarmingly, the number increased more than five-fold in the past year, with more than 150 attacks in 2011 alone, and this does not include the multiple coordinated bombings that led to hundreds of deaths in Kano in January of this year.
The Nigerian security services and police have faced significant challenges addressing the growing threat posed by Boko Haram, elements of which may be affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other transnational terrorist organizations. The bulk of its followers, however, appear to be focused on domestic issues, primarily the lack of jobs and growing economic inequities that have disproportionately impacted northern states.
The essential component to addressing economic and security challenges is governance, and we have seen clear examples of the importance of democracy and good governance in West Africa just in the past week with developments in Mali and Senegal. It is clear that Nigeria plays a critical role in the region, and there is more that could be done by President Jonathan to encourage meaningful reform to root out endemic corruption and strengthen transparency.
We are pleased to have with us three Administration witnesses who will consider these issues and assess the difficult questions surrounding governance, economics, and security in Nigeria and how they are interrelated. We look forward to hearing from each of you, but first, let me turn to Senator Isakson for his opening remarks.
•North, South-South in battle royale over oil
Tension over the allocation of Nigeria’s oil wealth among the states of the federation is assuming an interesting dimension with key figures in the South-South taking on the North over its recent call for a fiscal redress. The North, through the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) appears set its goal of changing the revenue allocation formular in its favour while the South-South described such calls as idle and insulting.One of the Niger Delta leaders even said the North is ungrateful to the South.
ACF’s spokesman, Anthony Sani spoke with The Friday Edition declaring that the South cannot describe the north lasy because there is no diligence involved in having crude oil under ones soil.
Beneath the cross fire between the North and the South is the issue of who has juicy oil blocs in his kitty. The Friday Edition serves available details of owners of the multi billion naira oil blocs which insiders described as just a tip of the iceberg.
Unknown to many, more than eighty percent of ownership of the nation’s oil reserves is in the hands of some influential northerners who acquired marginal fields, Oil Mining Licenses (OML) and Oil Prospecting Licenses (OPL).
Curiously, such acquisitions were under the different military regimes of Generals Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), the late Sani Abacha as well as Nigeria’s last military leader, Abdusalami Abubakar.
This discovery is coming on the heels of the brickbat between the South-South and the North over the propriety or otherwise of the review of the revenue sharing formula which the later alleged was unduly advantageous to the former.
Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger state, had, penultimate week, called for equality in the sharing of oil revenue accruing to the oil-producing states, saying it posed a big disadvantage to those without oil.
The position of the Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum had barely settled when Governors Rotimi Amaechi(Rivers), Emmanuel Uduaghan(Delta), Olusegun Mimiko(Ondo), Theodore Orji(Abia) and federal lawmakers from oil-producing states expressed their dismay at the outburst.
The debate had continued to take a new dimension in the last one week.
But Nigerian Tribune’s investigations showed that most of the oil and gas prospects had long been conceded to a particular section of the country.
According to documents exclusively obtained by the Nigerian Tribune, most of those to whom the nation’s juicy oil reserves have been conceded are individually richer than some African oil-producers such as Ghana and Sudan.
For instance, Cavendish Petroleum, the operators of OML 110 – with good yielding OBE field was awarded to Alhaji Mai Deribe - the Borno patriarch, by General Sani Abacha on the 8th of July, 1996.
OML 110 has a proven oil reserve in excess of 500 million barrels (more than the entire 300milliom barrels reserve of Sudan) with capacity to produce about 120,000 barrels of crude oil daily from its OBE 4 and OBE 5 wells.
At current production levels, the Mai Deribes net an average of N4billion monthly in crude oil sales (using oil price estimates of $100 p/b). Deribe, even in death is the richest man in the history of Borno state today.
Another major partaker in the oil and gas sector is Mallam (Prince) Sanusi Lamido, a cousin of the Central Bank Governor, who is a key shareholder and director in Seplat/Platform Petroleum, operators of the Asuokpu/Umutu Marginal Field with a capacity of 300,000 barrels monthly and 30mmfcsd gas plant capable of feeding 100MT of LPG.
But the oldest of all northern-backed oil and gas concerns is South Atlantic Petroleum Limited (SAPETRO). South Atlantic Petroleum (SAPETRO) is a Nigerian Oil Exploration and Production Company that was established in 1995 by General T. Y. Danjuma, who is also the Chairman of ENI Nigeria Limited. General Sani Abacha awarded the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 246 to SAPETRO in February 1998.
The block covers a total area of 2,590km2 (1,000 sq. miles). SAPETRO partnered with Total Upstream Nigeria Ltd (TUPNI) and Brasoil Oil Services Company Nigeria Ltd to start prospecting on OPL246.
Akpo, a condensate field was discovered in April 2000 with the drilling of the first exploration well (Akpo 1) on the block. Other discoveries made on OPL 246 include the Egina Main, Egina South, Preowei and Kuro (Kuro was suspended as a dry gas/minor oil discovery).
But in June 2006, SAPETRO divested part of its contractor rights and obligations to China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) for $1 billion (N160bn). Akpo exports about 230,000 barrels of condensate daily.
Condensate export is not regulated by OPEC, so SAPETRO/TOTAL exports as much as possible each day. Egina exports about 75,000 barrels of oil daily.
Akpo and Egina therefore, export over 300,000 barrels of oil/condensate daily (three times what Ghana currently exports).
Out of this volume, SAPETRO gets 25 per cent which, however, excludes the gas component that is about 2.5 trillion cubic feet.
Operators of OML 112 and OML 117, AMNI International Petroleum and Development Company, is owned by Alhaji (Colonel) Sani Bello from Kontagora, Niger State. In the production-sharing contract, AMNI gets 60 per cent for owning the oil block and Total gets 40 per cent for providing technical advice.
Although OML 112 was awarded on 12 February, 1998 and OML 117 on 4 August, 1999, all by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar whose eldest daughter is married to Bello’s son, Abu, operations did not start on both blocks until 26 February, 2006.
Both licenses are due to expire on 11 February, 2018 and 5 August, 2019 respectively. AMNI produces twice as much as Cavendish Petroleum.
Nonetheless, a Former Petroleum minister, (names withheld), another Fulani multi-millionaire with fronted controlling holdings in Afren, manages AMNI oil blocks and with very key interest in the NNPC/Vitol trading deal.
Vitol is a London based oil trading company. Vitol, which lifts 350,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Nigeria is owned by the former minister.
The Okoro and Setu fields in OML 112 with about 50 million barrels in reserve, operated by Afren Energy, currently rake in below 20,000 barrels per day in exports.
Similarly, there is Oriental Energy Resources Limited, a company owned by Alhaji Mohammed Indimi, a close friend of General Ibrahim Babangida. Both, apart from being from Niger state, are in-laws (IBB’s first son, Mohammed is married to Yakolo, Indimi’s daughter). Yakolo is a director in Oriental.
Oriental Energy Resources Limited runs three oil blocks: OML 115, the Okwok field and the Ebok field. OML 115 and Okwo are OML PSC, while Ebok is an OML JV. All of them are crown offshore oil blocks.
OML 115 on its own is 228 sq Km with Oriental Energy Resources Limited controlling 60 per cent while Equity Energy Resources, has 40 per cent.
On Okwok, Addax has 40% and on the Ebok field, Oriental Energy Resources has 100%.
Alhaji Aminu Dantata’s Express Petroleum and Gas Limited floated for the purpose of winning oil block(s) on November 1, 1995, got General Abacha’s approval to operate OML 108. CAMAC Houston, a company owned by Kase Lawal bought 2.5% of Express Petroleum’s 60% holdings. The other 40% on OML 108 is owned by Sheba E&P Limited.
As the operator of OML 108, Shebah Exploration And Production Limited (SEPCOL) has an office in Lagos but the headquarters is in Minna. SEPCOL operates the Ukpokiti offshore field in Shallow water Nigeria, which was acquired from ConocoPhillips in May 2004.
The Alhaji Saleh Mohammed Jambo-owned NorthEast Petroleum Limited, registered as NorEast Petroleum, is the holder of OPL215 license, covering an area of 2,564 square kilometres in water depths between 200 to 1600 metres.
NorEast, which is the parent company of Rayflosh Petroleum, was awarded the blocks OPLs 276 & 283 closing thereupon, a Joint Venture Agreement with Centrica Resources Nigeria Limited and CCC Oil and Gas.
The license was awarded to him by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida in 1991 and then renewed in 2004 by former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. It was learnt that, so far $50Million has been spent on the very promising Okpoi-1 and Egere -1 exploratory well.
Intels, owned by the three families of Yar’Adua , Ado Bayero and Alhaji Abubakar Atiku is another major northern concern in the oil and gas sector. The Oil and Gas Free Zone and Oil Services Centres, as well as Support Bases operated from government-owned facilities, are leased to Intels under long-term agreements.
Intels thus, runs a ‘private port’, as a counter venture to the Calabar, Warri and Port Harcourt ports. At the Port Harcourt’s facility of the company for instance, there are over one hundred major companies.
Forty-five years after proclaiming the breakaway Republic of Biafra, former rebel-leader Emeka Ojukwu was this week given a state burial by the Nigerian government.
It is unusual that the president of a country attends the funeral of a man who tried to engineer that country's breakup. But Ojukwu is being hailed as a hero today because many in Nigeria simply believe the man had a point. Many Nigerians are unhappy with the way their country has turned out. And some, just like Ojukwu in the 1960s, are now questioning the viability of the state in itself.
In 2005, the CIA published a report warning that Nigeria, the seventh most populous country in the world, could disintegrate within 15 years. At the time, that prediction was dismissed by most Nigerians as baseless alarmism. But recent events have prompted a re-evaluation of that gloomy forecast.
The funeral of Dim Ikemba Ojukwu, attended by Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan (right). Photograph: Sunday Alamba/AP
The northern-based Boko Haram Islamists are currently wreaking havoc in Nigeria, ramping up their terrorist attacks and demanding that Sharia law be implemented throughout a country where roughly half the population is Christian. Northern Nigeria is predominantly Muslim, while southern Nigeria is largely Christian. Boko Haram have said that those originally from the south who are now living in the north should return to where they came from or face death. In response, some southern leaders have threatened retaliation against the northerners living in their region.
Nigeria is currently experiencing a surge in ethnic animosity fuelled by the sectarian violence, which the central government has been incapable of quelling. President Goodluck Jonathan recently described the present situation as "worse than during the [1967-70] civil war". In January, Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka said that Nigeria is "already progressing towards a defacto break up."
Nigeria is the result of a 1914 British colonial decision to lump together more than 250 ethnic groups, differing in culture and social structure. In 1967, the eastern part of the country, dominated by the Igbo ethnic group, announced secession under then Colonel Ojukwu after a pogrom of Igbos living in the north. But the central government eventually battled the breakaway republic into submission at the cost of more than 1 million lives.
That laid to rest any ideas of dividing Nigeria at the time, but today a growing number of voices are saying that a breakup would be the best solution for the people living in its territory. "What's the point of keeping the country together when it is clearly not working? Only the northern elites wants one Nigeria, and that's because their region lacks natural resources while there is plenty of oil in the south," a friend of mine from the south told me recently.
"If Yugoslavia and Sudan could break up, then why can't we?" he added.
Many Nigerians from the south feel the north, where education levels are much lower, brings precious little to the nation's table in terms of resources and human capital, yet its elites consume a huge chunk of the national budget due to their political influence.
Why not engineer a peaceful breakup and let new nations build more functional political entities with rulers who share the same values as their citizens? It sounds simple enough.
But on reflection, the belief of a breakup improving things is based on false premises. The first of these is that there is a viable configuration under which Nigeria could split today in a peaceful manner. In reality, a simple north-south divide or even a north-east-west divide simply won't fly.
In the winner-takes-all mentality that pervades modern-day Nigerian society, no ethnic group will want to accept the role of "second fiddle" in a new entity: we would be talking of at least six, maybe even 10 new countries. How many would be able to survive? Are conflicts between them not inevitable, such as between Ethiopia and Eritrea? The post-Yugoslavian states could count on the EU for help. Post-Nigerian states would have no such luxury.
Secondly, the idea of unity even within the same ethnic group is overly idealistic. There are sub-groups and sub-groups of sub-groups within each of Nigeria's tribes. Take away a common enemy to unite them and chaos could ensue.
There would also likely be a battle for control of the oil, which is mostly located in the southern Niger Delta region. This could spark a long-lasting Congo-like conflict.
Nigeria's political scene today is controlled by men commonly referred to as "godfathers," a handful of rich and powerful figures who hand-pick candidates for all the significant political offices in the country, ensuring their victory through bribes, threats and, if necessary, murder.
When their "boy," as such a protege is called, gets into office, he repays his godfather for the "investment" made in him through bogus contracts and a host of other means. He is also obliged to turn a blind eye to any criminal activity that his godfather, or those he protects, might commit.
This system functions in all areas of Nigeria – north and south alike. So what would the creation of new countries change? Secession will not alter the situation of the average Nigerian.
Fingering religious or ethnic differences as the root of Nigeria's problems oversimplifies the situation. The most immediate problem is the godfathers' stranglehold on power. The people of Nigeria will not know freedom until they can unite against this menance and the corruption it brings, much as they did in forcing the British colonialists to relinquish power five decades ago.
Otherwise the outcome of a breakup would simply be smaller, weaker nations governed by systems no less corrupt and dysfunctional than today.
Remi Adekoya was born and raised in Nigeria. He is the politics editor of Warsaw Business Journal, an English-language weekly in Poland, The Guardian UK. He has also worked for the Polish weekly Wprost and has had his articles published in the daily Gazeta Wyborcza and Foreign Policy
Nigeria is ending fuel subsidies, an official said Sunday, a move that is sure to be unpopular in the oil-rich nation where citizens have come to expect cheap fuel as one of their few government benefits. The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency will stop paying the subsidy to petroleum importers effective immediately, executive secretary Reginald Stanley said in a statement.
The government has said the move will save the country some $8 billion, some of which will be dedicated to much-needed infrastructure projects. Previous attempts to lift the subsidies have been met with nationwide strikes.
"Consumers are assured of adequate supply of quality products at prices that are competitive and non-exploitative and so there is no need for anyone to engage in panic buying or product hoarding," the statement read.
However, less than an hour after Sunday's announcement, some gas stations in the commercial capital of Lagos had stopped selling gas, presumably in the hope of selling it post-subsidy for more than the current price of about $1.70 per gallon (45 cents per liter).
A similar move in neighboring Ghana last week raised prices by about 15%, said oil and gas analyst Dolapo Oni.
Nigeria, an OPEC member nation producing about 2.4 million barrels of crude oil a day, is a top supplier to the U.S., but virtually all of its petroleum products are imported after years of graft, mismanagement and violence at its refineries.
L-R Dr. Okonj-Iweala, Madueke
Consumers in Nigeria find themselves having to line up for hours whenever events affecting the price or distribution of fuel trigger panic buying or hoarding. Nigerians rely heavily on fuel not only for their cars, but also to power the generators that many homes and businesses use to compensate for the nation's unreliable power supply. They consume more than 9 million gallons (about 35 million liters) of fuel per day, according to a report from the regulatory agency.
The Nigerian Labor Congress declined to immediately comment, but had previously said it would fight any attempt to lift the subsidy.Potential unrest over the subsidy removal would likely add to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's security woes after he declared a state of emergency Saturday in parts of the country affected by a growing Islamist insurgency.
L-RPresident Jonathan, Oil minister Alison-Madueke
In a country where people see little benefit from the country's staggering oil wealth, a culture of distrust has come to define the relationship between the people and their government. However, the country's respected economic team has promised that things will be different.
"Over and over, promises have been broken," said Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank official, at a recent conference held in Lagos. "Over and over, they have not seen the implementation they want take place ... This is different," she said.
Ms. Okonjo-Iweala has been pushing for the removal and mentioned lifting subsidies during her screening by the Nigerian senate before her appointment as finance minister with extended powers. Analysts believe she expects the move will sanitize the sector of the industry responsible for selling and distributing fuel and make it more efficient.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) has put Nigeria’s total debt ( external and domestic debt) as at the end of September this year, at $40 billion.
Director-General, DMO, Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, who disclosed this at the weekend in an interactive session with journalists in Lagos, however allayed fears that the country’s debt profile had risen astronomically.
A breakdown of the figure by Nwankwo, showed that whereas the country’s total external debt stood at $5.6 billion, its domestic debt was N5.3 trillion ($34.4 billion).
He argued that the total debt figure at 19.6 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), was sustainable.
Nwankwo explained: “Now, the global standard for all countries that are in our peer group is that you total debt to GDP should be about 40 per cent.
That is the global standard. We did not set the standard and we are at 19.6 per cent. So, if you ask me, I will say that in view of the benchmark, we are doing very well in terms of being comfortable to be within the sustainable limit. However, even though the global standard is 40 per cent, Nigeria had set for itself, a limit of 25 per cent. So even if you look at that, we are still below the standard we set for ourselves.
He however added: “Our plan is that Nigeria should not reach 25 per cent, even by 2015 and then we can look at the figures again and see whether we have improved in our ability to manage resources better before we can borrow additional resources.”
He further explained that when analysing the debt of any country and particularly Nigeria, the debt level should always be related to another variable.
“You relate debt stock to the GDP, you relate debt service to your export earning, relate debt service to your revenue. So, with that, you get the appropriate sovereignty ration, liquidity ratio, because if you don’t do that, you take a wrong decision.
“I challenge you to go and look at Nigeria’s GDP five years ago, either in nominal or real terms and look at the GDP currently. You have to relate the resources to the level and volume of economic activities. So, when you look at Nigeria’s domestic debt, it is not too big. It has grown because when you relate it to the GDP, it is about 16 per cent and when you add that to the external ratio which is about 2 per cent, it gives your 19.6 per cent. So we are stable,” Nwankwo declared.
Responding to question on the high demand for bond by state governments, the DMO helmsmen said that for any state to issue such debt instrument, there are certain criteria and conditions that must be met.
He however challenged the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) , government agencies responsible for project monitoring, civil society groups and individuals in the country to ensure that funds raised by states, are properly utilised for the projects that had been indicated in the prospectus before such funds were raised.
L-R: Sanusi,Christine Lagarde (C), Okonjo_Iweala in Lagos (AFP/IMF, Stephen Jaffe)
“Amongst other things, for a state to borrow, its total debt service deduction is established. That is, the amount of debt owed by state that is being deducted from their revenue –particularly from their Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) revenue, to service the debt.
“Now, the rule is that your (states) total monthly debt service deductions should not be more than 40 per cent of your FAAC allocation average for the past 12 months. So, you can see that states do not just go to the debt market and borrow nor do they just go to the bank and borrow. There is a serious level of control and they must follow certain guideline,” he added.