Nigeria’s Violence Hits Economy

From former Amb. John Campbell at the Council on Foreign Relations:

 The incessant violence is starting to impact the Nigerian economy. While Lagos hustles along without regard to the bloodshed in other parts of the country, economic activity has dipped, as in Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city. Enterprises with exposure in northern Nigeria are seeing profits shrink. Cross-border trade between northern Nigeria and its neighbors is also down.

Meanwhile, formal politics is almost entirely detached from reality. Goodluck Jonathan is widely regarded as feckless, especially in his response to the Islamist insurgency, but is still favored to win in the national elections scheduled for late next year. Nevertheless, there is more uncertainty about this election outcome than there has been at any time since the end of military rule in 1999. While Jonathan is trying to build support among the political class, his rivals are seeking to create a unified opposition party that could credibly challenge him at the polls. Sadly, both sides are resorting to traditional patronage-clientage politics without reference to the needs of the larger population.

So anxiety about the future is high. In their more pessimistic moments, some Nigerians express anxiety about whether the country in its current form will survive to election day. There is some sentiment in favor of a military takeover, but there is little evidence that the upper reaches of the military have the stomach for a return to power. While the Islamist insurgents do not offer a viable political alternative and remain divided among themselves, the threat they pose to Nigeria’s political and economic future are significant, as Jonathan’s state of emergency recognizes.