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Vol 39 No 25

Published 18th December 1998


Nigeria

As bad as it gets

Political power in Nigeria grows out of a barrel of oil but the industry is in big trouble

If General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s government cannot sort out the oil business, its brokering of a political transition may not amount to much. Six months ago,when Gen. Sani Abacha left the scene, the oil sector was in ruins. Nigeria was crippled by fuel shortages, and more than a quarter of the country’s estimated US$11 billion earnings from crude oil last year was siphoned off by Gen. Abacha, his senior officers and his business favourites. Smalltime trading companies flocked to Nigeria, and were promised discounted oil shipments in exchange for massive kickbacks on each consignment for senior figures in Abacha’s regime.

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