Special Issue: Nigeria, the giant against the ropes (I)

Nigeria is an important cocoa producer as well, and has a flourishing farming activity. Its  GDP adds up to $510bn and yearly grows by 7%, but the vast majority of its 175 million inhabitants  – it is the most populated country in Africa – get by with 1,188 dollars a year: 69% don’t even reach the poverty index and 25% of citizens are unemployed. In states like Sokoto, 81% of inhabitants survives with less than a daily dollar. How to explain these contradictions triggering insecurity and violence?

Last April more than 240 girls, 15 to 18-year-old, were kidnapped in a boarding school in Chibok (state of Borno, northeast of the country). It was the culmination of the diverse terrorist group threats to Nigerian federation.

The country went back to enjoy democracy in 1999, after the last military dictator Sani Abacha died due to a Viagra overdose in an orgy, but that didn’t end with corruption, the country’s endemic evil. According to official sources, during his five year in office, Abacha and its colaborators gathered at least $5bn in European banks and tax heavens. Transparency International reports show that, since oil was found in the country in 1960 shortly after independence – and that caused the harsh Biafra war – about $400bn have been stolen or wasted by public workers.

During a Senate hearing  in February, Bank of Nigeria’s governor Lamido Sanusi, denounced the “sytematic  looting of oil income” by the Nigeria National Oil Company: “$20bn out of $67bn revenue in January 2012-June 2013 remain hidden”, he said.  Instead of launching a research, Sanusi was fired by PM Goodluck Jonathan. Three months later, in May, a parliamentary report insisted on “endemic corruption and public workers’ rooted inefficiency” which had prompted the looting of a huge quantity of fuel. That meant a cost of €5.5bn in the last three years, 25% of national budget.

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About the Author

Donato Ndongo
Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo was born in Niefang, Equatorial Guinea, in 1950. Writer, journalist and political exile. He was correspondent and delegate of Spanish EFE agency in central Africa (1987-1995). Director of the Center for African Studies at the University of Murcia (2000-2004). Visiting Professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia (United States, 2005-2008). Regular lecturer on American, African and European universities. He is the author of the essays "History and tragedy of Equatorial Guinea" (1977), "Anthology of Guinean literature" (1984) and co-author of "Spain in Guinea" (1998) as well as of three novels translated into several languages. Mr Ndongo is a regular contributor for Spanish media such as El País, ABC, Mundo Negro and The Corner’s print magazine Consejeros, among others.

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