A Week in Nigeria: 4 May

Lawmakers increased the size of the budget that was presented to parliament by the president

In this week’s round-up: Senate passes budget, Britain seeks closer investment ties and Dutch court rules on Nigerian widows’ Shell case.

  • Nigeria’s Senate passed the 2019 budget after increasing it to 8.91 trillion naira ($29 bln). Lawmakers said the rise was due to a rise in spending on security to help the government combat rising militancy and kidnapping across the country. The upper house of parliament increased the spending plan by 80 billion naira, up from the 8.83 trillion naira budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to lawmakers last year. Buhari needs to sign the budget for it to become law. Parliament approved a budget deficit of 1.9 trillion naira, representing 1.37 percent of GDP. Nigeria’s economy grew by 1.93 percent last year, its fastest pace since a recession two years earlier, data showed, while inflation which has been in double digits for three years, fell to 11.25 percent in March.
  • A Dutch court said it has jurisdiction to hear a damages suit brought against Royal Dutch Shell by four widows of activists executed by the Nigerian government in 1995. In a preliminary decision, judges at the Hague District Court said they would allow the suit to go forward, a rare win in a decades-long legal fight. However, it said the claimants must still prove Shell’s liability. Shell denies wrongdoing. “This procedure will continue,” said presiding judge Larissa Alwin, reading the decision of a three-judge panel. The men executed were among a group that became known as the “Ogoni Nine” — activists who included writer Ken Saro-Wiwa. The group had protested against what it said was Shell’s exploitation of the Niger Delta. Its nine members were arrested and hanged after a flawed trial that turned international opinion against Nigeria’s then-military rulers.
  • Still on the subject of oil in the Niger Delta, we reported that Nigeria’s Department of Petroleum Resources has deployed satellite technology to track oil smugglers. The DPR has turned to French data firm Kpler, just six years old and staffed by a hundred mostly young employees, to help it ferret out the smugglers from the thousands of ships plying Nigerian waters. The DPR began its collaboration with Kpler in December and unveiled it this month, among other tech-focused plans to detect what it calls “rogue” or “dark” ships. Kpler and the DPR declined to specify the value of their contract. Shell alone recorded 128 oil spills resulting from sabotage in 2018, more than double the previous year and the highest since 2014.
  • And, if your thirst for oil stories still hasn’t been quenched, there’s more. No, really. State oil company NNPC said 132 companies had bid for the right to swap the nation’s crude oil for fuels as a tender for the deals closed. The tender for the one-year contracts, dubbed direct sale, direct-purchase (DSDP), was issued in March. NNPC extended the 2018 contracts through June of this year. Nigeria is almost entirely reliant on imported fuel due to years of neglect at its own refineries. It has leaned heavily on the swap arrangements to get fuel, particularly gasoline, as other would-be importers struggle to make money due to price caps. Since the scheme was introduced in 2016, replacing another programme that paid subsidies to importers, NNPC managing director Maikanti Baru said it had saved the nation $2.2 billion and supplied some 90 percent of its import requirements.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Alexis Akwagyiram

Alexis Akwagyiram

Nigeria bureau chief for Reuters. Ghanaian family, British accent. Ex-BBC, before that newspapers.