The removal of oil subsidies within Nigeria has brought conflict and rioting throughout the country. This outcome is no surprise as other countries like Bolivia, Venezuela and Jordan have seen similar upheavals as a result of unexpected removal of oil subsidies.
Many countries find themselves in a sort of catch-22, as keeping the implementation of subsidies restricts economic stimulation. However, in most cases, oil subsidies are one of the only benefits the lower class receives. In a notoriously corrupted country like Nigeria, with an overwhelmingly large poor population, the finalization of such a decision was bound to bring problems.
Though Nigeria is a country with great natural resources, it has reaped very little from it. Nearly all the profits has found its way into the pockets of the prosperous ones , creating an even larger disparity between the population.
As the subsidisation was withdrawn and Nigeria broke into havoc, all the problems and the neglect of politicians and of the leadership of the country were revealed. As most countries suffering under an elitist government, the population feels increasingly disregarded.
An unemployed university graduate spoke up in the midst of the rioting saying, “We are the people, but they are not listening to us, so what is the meaning of democracy? You are not ready to listen, so how can you govern?”
Just days after the Nigerian government made the decision, they were forced to retract it.
According to the IMF, ridding the country of fuel subsidies would be the necessary first step towards a much-needed financial reformation. Each year Nigeria decides to continue the fuel subsidies, they are throwing away $8 billion, which is needed to improve education, public health and many other problems plaguing the country. However, it’s impossible to make the decision so quickly without an alternative way to help those affected by it. As three-fourths of the country’s population live on less than a dollar a day, cheap rides to the market and affordable food are imperative, and only possible because of the subsidies.
Many developing nations, particularly those rich in natural resources, have been faced with similar issues. The outcome of success versus failure in these situations has come down to what sort of alternative they are offering to the lower levels of the population.
Jordan and Iran implemented cash aid programs to compensate for rising prices. Many countries are heading the same direction using a similar model, hoping for the same level of success and satisfaction.
As the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, brought back partial restoration of the fuel subsidies, the riots started to calm and eventually came to an end. However, it seems that this may only pacify the people for some time, as there are much other resentment that has been harbouring.
Most people hope that the legislations and decisions will stop favouring the wealthy, but it is clear that they are running out of patience.
By: Lauren Norling
HGN Politics Journalist, London Campus
Picture Source: The Washington Post