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Vol 39 No 8

Published 17th April 1998


Living dangerously

Alarms are sounding about General Abacha's plans to follow President Suharto's example

What have Indonesia and Nigeria got in common? On the face of it, almost everything - deepening economic crises, embattled military leaders, a web of corruption and nepotism at the top, political repression, huge populations, religious and ethnic tensions, a pathological distrust of journalists, and massive oil reserves. Yet the world's bankers and financial civil servants are desperate to prevent Indonesia's 193 million people from going over the edge while they regard Nigeria's increasingly desperate plight with studied indifference. The real difference is the tens of billions of foreign dollars invested in Indonesia and the devastating regional effects if its economy and politics implode. In Nigeria, by comparison, foreign investment is negligible and long written-off; only the oil companies and a few trading houses would be seriously hit if the Nigerian economy completely disappeared. Bankers are not losing much sleep about 'another West African crisis'.

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