Nigeria: Debt or Democracy?

CAMBRIDGE: When poor, heavily indebted countries are struggling to make their way from dictatorship to democracy, the actions of rich countries can be decisive. If rich countries insist on debt repayments and austerity measures, they are likely to destroy the social stability needed for a new democracy to take root.

Greed, short-sightedness, and general unconcern among rich countries, however, should never be underestimated. In recent weeks, European countries – and apparently the IMF – have been rejecting the pleas of Nigeria's new democracy to grant it debt reduction. Instead, they say, Nigeria should increase its debt servicing this year, and should abandon its call for debt reduction. The French Government, as organizer of the creditor committee of governments (the so-called Paris Club)bears most responsibility for this egregious policy, but many other governments and international agencies share the blame.

You would think that France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the IMF would be more aware of recent history. Seven years ago, Nigeria was on a rocky and treacherous course to democratization. A caretaker government was charged with overseeing the transition to national elections in early 1994. Yet in late 1993, the IMF and World Bank pressured Nigeria to eliminate subsidies on domestic petroleum products as part of austerity moves insisted on by its creditors.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/0tozdNv;
  1. Patrick Kovarik/Getty Images

    The Summit of Climate Hopes

    Presidents, prime ministers, and policymakers gather in Paris today for the One Planet Summit. But with no senior US representative attending, is the 2015 Paris climate agreement still viable?

  2. Trump greets his supporters The Washington Post/Getty Images

    Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America

    • In the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently sold out the blue-collar, socially conservative whites who brought him to power, while pursuing policies to enrich his fellow plutocrats. 

    • Sooner or later, Trump's core supporters will wake up to this fact, so it is worth asking how far he might go to keep them on his side.
  3. Agents are bidding on at the auction of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

    The Man Who Didn’t Save the World

    A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," for which he spent $450.3 million. Had he given the money to the poor, as the subject of the painting instructed another rich man, he could have restored eyesight to nine million people, or enabled 13 million families to grow 50% more food.

  4.  An inside view of the 'AknRobotics' Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Two Myths About Automation

    While many people believe that technological progress and job destruction are accelerating dramatically, there is no evidence of either trend. In reality, total factor productivity, the best summary measure of the pace of technical change, has been stagnating since 2005 in the US and across the advanced-country world.

  5. A student shows a combo pictures of three dictators, Austrian born Hitler, Castro and Stalin with Viktor Orban Attila Kisbenedek/Getty Images

    The Hungarian Government’s Failed Campaign of Lies

    The Hungarian government has released the results of its "national consultation" on what it calls the "Soros Plan" to flood the country with Muslim migrants and refugees. But no such plan exists, only a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign to help a corrupt administration deflect attention from its failure to fulfill Hungarians’ aspirations.

  6. Project Syndicate

    DEBATE: Should the Eurozone Impose Fiscal Union?

    French President Emmanuel Macron wants European leaders to appoint a eurozone finance minister as a way to ensure the single currency's long-term viability. But would it work, and, more fundamentally, is it necessary?

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now