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What Impact Will Nigeria’s Elections Have On Oil?

Nigeria Rig

On February 16, 2019, Nigeria will start off its general elections during which voters will elect the President, National Assembly and an overwhelming majority of governors. Elections traditionally are a very messy business for Nigeria – the last one in 2015, considered to be one of the most peaceful, left more than a hundred people dead. The upcoming one has all the ingredients of a potentially highly explosive standoff – socioeconomic indicators worsening, disparities both at the regional and local levels becoming ever-manifest, corruption flourishing all contribute to this deadly cocktail. Even though the Nigerian oil sector is not the primary discussion topic of the candidates, the outcome of the ballot seems to have inevitable ramifications for it.

Oil amounts to roughly 9 percent of the Nigerian GDP, which seems good at first sight for a rentier state – however, it also takes up 88 percent of exports and up to 90 percent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange income. Oil rents are a traditional feature of Nigerian politics and have been keeping the country’s political elites together – at the expense of foreign investors who have not shied away from voicing their frustration over the ever-delayed nature of oil reforms in the country. It seems that the Nigerian populace is already ripe for thorough reforms, with one of the leading presidential hopefuls calling for the complete privatization of the Nigerian national oil company, NNPC. NNPC…

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