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Vol 46 No 17

Published 26th August 2005


Nigeria

Opening the gates

Will a public auction of oil blocks break the cycle of patronage and corruption?

Nigeria's biggest ever oil licensing round this weekend will test President Olusegun Obasanjo's bold promises to fight corruption, which helped to secure a massive write-off on the country's US$35 billion foreign debt in July (AC Vol 46 Nos 14 & 15). Should the auction for 75 oil blocks - to be held in Abuja on 26-27 August - not meet the government's promised standards of accountability, awkward questions may be raised by signatories to the $35 bn. debt deal. Although the government has provided much more information than its predecessors about the oil auction, documents obtained by Africa Confidential raise concerns about the technical expertise and political connections of many of the Nigerian companies eligible to bid.

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