This is a piece I recently wrote for the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage Blog on how Nigeria’s new government maybe shifting towards the mineral sector, and how this could address regional disparities in growth.
Although he was elected in March of this year, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari did not name his Cabinet ministers until 5 p.m. on Sept. 30 — the day of his self-imposed deadline. The most striking thing about Buhari’s Cabinet appointments is that they demonstrate a shift toward economic diversification away from oil. This has major implications for how neglected sectors like mining may be given a boost, but also how Africa’s largest economy will be run over the next few years.
How did we get here?
Buhari’s government follows 16 years of rule by the People’s Development Party (PDP). PDP administrations headed by Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan tried to push Nigeria’s economy into theworld’s top 20, with varying — and ultimately unsuccessful — results. The last Cabinet (under Jonathan) included former executives from the World Bank, Goldman Sachs and Shell, and Nigeria became Africa’s largest economy, albeit amidst severe inequality.
As I wrote with a colleague in a briefing about the recent elections in Nigeria, Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) party emerged victorious in 2015 thanks to an effective campaign strategy, a latent economic crisis in the wake of the collapse in oil prices, egregious government corruption, and the devastating Boko Haram insurgency. Popular disenchantment translated into the defeat of his predecessor, Jonathan.
Even before his election, Buhari prefaced every speech with an objective of diversifying Nigeria’s economy away from dependence on crude oil — Nigeria’s main export commodity — toward agriculture, solid minerals and industry. He also emphasized achieving food self-sufficiency, tackling grand corruption and containing the Boko Haram insurgency.
Read the rest of the article on the Washington Post.