NewsWest AfricaHannibal: Nigeria's waltz of excuses at the WEF


Posted on Friday, 11 July 2014 17:25

Hannibal: Nigeria's waltz of excuses at the WEF

By Hannibal, The Africa Report

Your business insider sneaked into the corridors of power at the World Economic Forum and found that there's more than meets the eye with Nigeria's movers and shakers. Did anyone say Boko Haram stole the show?


Traffic rare, menace omnipresent
One Of the few pleasant things about the World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja was the lack of traffic. The ring of steel thrown up by security forces in May sped up Hannibal's car journey but was a sad reminder of the fate of some 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Boko Haram islamist militia days before the opening ceremony. Officially, more than 1,000 participants – including political leaders, heads of business organisations, bankers and management consultants – were in attendance.

Battle of the bankers
This was a moment in the limelight for Nigeria's finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, one of Nigeria's more respected public officials. Perhaps it was a shame then to use the opportunity to continue criticism of former Central Bank governor Lamido Sanusi, who president Goodluck Jonathan suspended in February. She reiterated that Sanusi kept on changing the amount of missing billions from Nigeria's national oil company "unaccounted for" in federal coffers, adding during a panel discussion that Sanusi erred in going forward with his claims without consulting her. Surely amour propre is misplaced when such grand larceny is under way.

PIB and Oando deals out of hand
Nigeria's petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke deflected implied criticism on two outstanding matters by stating that they were, for now, out of her hands. In addition to saying that she cannot influence the much- delayed petroleum industry Bill while it is being considered by Nigeria's house of representatives, Alison-Madueke said during an enthusiastic debate on energy matters that she could not approve the delayed Oando acquisition of Conocophillips's Nigerian assets because the deal was still being processed by the department of petroleum resources. Co-panellist and Oando chief executive Wale Tinubu sat metres away and remained calm.

Sharing the pie, interrupted
President Jonathan said that the jobs question "keeps me up at night" and admitted that Nigeria's gross domestic product rebasing this year has "not translated into job creation". African Development Bank president Donald Kaberuka argued that one can indeed "eat economic growth" but that one must leave growth for others sitting around the table. But despite this important topic, Jonathan and the conference could not avoid returning regularly to the question of how to "save our girls". Jonathan suggested at a heated security discussion that better technology would have helped the security forces. Excuses aside, what was otherwise a well-run world economic forum may have been overshadowed by Boko Haram. ●

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