Geopolitical stakes in Nigeria: Curious role of the IMF

Kaduna refinery (photo from nigerianbestforum.com)

As Nigeria spirals into instability, historian and economic researcher Frederick William Engdahl argues a recent government decision to lift subsidies on imported fuel in the oil-rich nation bears the mark of Washington Consensus shock therapy.

In the article below, Engdahl explains his view.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and its largest oil producer, is from all evidence being systematically thrown into chaos and a state of civil war. The recent surprise decision by the government of Goodluck Jonathan to abruptly lift subsidies on imported gasoline and other fuel has a far more sinister background than mere corruption, and the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) is playing a key role. China appears to be the likely loser along with Nigeria’s population.

The recent strikes protesting the government’s abrupt elimination of gasoline and other fuel subsidies, that brought Nigeria briefly to a standstill, came as a surprise to most in the country. Months earlier, President Jonathan had promised the major trade union organizations that he would conduct a gradual four-stage lifting of the subsidy to ease the economic burden. Instead, without warning he announced an immediate full removal of subsidies effective January 1, 2012. It was “shock therapy” to put it mildly.

Nigeria today is one of the world’s most important producers of light, sweet crude oil—the same high-quality crude oil that Libya and the British North Sea produce. The country is showing every indication of spiraling downward into deep disorder. Nigeria is the fifth largest supplier of oil to the United States and twelfth largest oil producer in the world on a par with Kuwait and just behind Venezuela with production exceeding two million barrels a day.

The curious timing of IMF subsidy demand

Despite its oil riches, Nigeria remains one of Africa’s poorest countries. The known oilfields are concentrated around the vast Niger Delta roughly between Port Harcourt and extending in the direction of Lagos, with large new finds being developed all along the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea.Nigeria’s oil is exploited and largely exported by the Anglo-American giants—Shell, Mobil, Chevron, Texaco. Italy’s Agip also has a presence and most recently, to no one’s surprise, the Chinese state oil companies began seeking major exploration and oil infrastructure agreements with the Abuja government.

Ironically, despite the fact that Nigeria has abundant oil to earn dollar export revenue to build its domestic infrastructure, government policy has deliberately let its domestic oil refining capacity fall into ruin. The consequence has been that most of the gasoline and other refined petroleum products used to drive transportation and industry, has to be imported, despite the country’s abundant oil. In order to shield the population from the high import costs of gasoline and other refined fuels, the central government has subsidized prices. Continue reading

Nigeria protests killing of its nationals in Libya

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Amb. Olugbenga Ashiru

Nigeria is protesting to Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC), Britain and France the killing of its nationals in the troubled North African country.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Amb. Olugbenga Ashiru abandoned a church service yesterday to take distress calls of Nigerians in Libya, including their co-ordinator, Mr. Daramola Siji.
Nigerians are being attacked in Tripoli, Benghazi, Gath, Agadez and Sirte, the hometown of the embattled Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, whose 42-year grip on power has been removed by a six-month insurgency.
A source said: “Unharmed Nigerians are being killed in tens for no just cause. In some instances, they rape Nigerian women before shooting them to death.
“Yet, this is the same TNC that the Federal Government is backing in Libya. The blacks are not involved in Libyan crisis; they do not deserve this massacre.”

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