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Published 18th April 2014

Vol 55 No 8


Nigeria

Buying while there is blood on the streets

NIGERIA: The green dome of the National Assembly in Abuja. George Osodi / Panos
NIGERIA: The green dome of the National Assembly in Abuja. George Osodi / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

When it comes to Africa’s leading economy, balance sheets not political histories dominate the reading lists

Within the last week, Nigeria’s economy was confirmed as the biggest in Africa. At US$510 billion, it is well over $100 bn. bigger than South Africa’s. The first Nigerian oil production company to list on the London Stock Exchange, Seplat Petroleum Development Company, raised $1.9 bn. in a day and two other well-connected local oil companies, Aiteo and Talveras, are in pole position to buy the OML 29 Block from Royal Dutch Shell for about $2.85 bn. While all that economy boosting has been going on, terrorist militias have killed at least 200 people in the north-east, posed as soldiers to abduct 200 schoolgirls and bombed the capital, Abuja, for the first time in two years, killing at least 79 people at a bus station in the Nyanya suburb.

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BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Governments, like clerics, balance good acts against bad ones in a moral balance sheet. This calculus governs international relations. The leaders of Kenya and Uganda, for example, know that participation in the bloody fight against the jihadists of Al Shabaab in Somalia wins indulgences from Western powers, the United States in particular, who are reluctant to send their own troops into battle in Africa. In President Yoweri Museveni’s case it buys near silence on his government's crac...

Governments, like clerics, balance good acts against bad ones in a moral balance sheet. This calculus governs international relations. The leaders of Kenya and Uganda, for example, know that participation in the bloody fight against the jihadists of Al Shabaab in Somalia wins indulgences from Western powers, the United States in particular, who are reluctant to send their own troops into battle in Africa. In President Yoweri Museveni’s case it buys near silence on his government's crackdown on the opposition and new homophobic laws. In Kenya's case, Western powers quickly shifted from a position of 'minimal contacts ' with President Uhuru Kenyatta because of the charges against him at the International Criminal Court to a level of security and intelligence cooperation in northern and coastal Kenya that reminds some of the trade-offs during the Cold War.

Rwanda is the country with the biggest deposit on the moral credit side of the balance sheet since the 1994 genocide after Britain, France and the USA on the United Nations Security Council drafted the resolution for the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers at the height of the killing. This has hitherto inoculated Kigali against public censure, let alone sanctions, for direct and indirect interventions in Congo-Kinshasa and a comprehensive and sometimes murderous clampdown on political dissidence at home and abroad. The approach that Rwanda’s leaders adopt is not to ease up on the debit side, but to add more moral credits to the other side. They are doing this by sending their highly trained troops as peacekeepers to Central African Republic, having won praise for their work in Darfur, Sudan: Mali is their next mission. When President Paul Kagame's second constitutional term expires in 2017, should he find it necessary to stay on for 'security reasons', he can expect a clear signal from the West: a deafening silence.

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Pointers

TV gold

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Beny fights on

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Nevers on a Sunday

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