Nigeria’s rulers are hoping a new policy to deliver the benefits of oil to the local population – as Alaska does with its pioneering approach of distributing petrodollars in cash to citizens – might help placate an insurgency that has cut production by as much as 40 per cent.
According to proponents, the scheme could make about $555m annually available – about $20 a year for every man, woman and child of the delta’s 28m people, a significant amount in a region where 70 per cent live on less than $1.50 a day.
Nigeria’s eight oil producing states already receive an extra slice of oil proceeds – but much of the money vanishes. Dimieari Von Kemedi, an activist recently drafted into the government of oil-rich Bayelsa state, says his audit of state finances found contracts had been inflated to the tune of N17bn ($114m, £71m, €79m).
The intended option is a system of trust funds administered at the behest of each community – bypassing the delta’s state and local governments.
This seems like an interesting way to approach a decades-old problem. Yet, would it be possible for the program to be too successful? What if success fuels resentment and tensions with Nigerian regions that lack oil? Furthermore, what if it leads to a dramatic rise in oil production, followed by a consequent bout of Dutch Disease?
Or, has the cure for Nigerian Disease finally been discovered?