Thursday, May 6, 2010

Nigeria's New President

Early this morning, one of Africa’s most populous and wealthiest countries swore in a new president. Goodluck Jonathan, former Vice President of Nigeria, assumed the role of president upon the death of Umaru Yar’Adua. Former President Yar’Adua had long suffered a number of significant health issues including heart inflammation and kidney ailments. President Jonathan, in assuming the position of acting President, pledged to focus on good governance and electoral reform. The nation’s April 2011 elections will offer a chance to measure the success of President Jonathan’s efforts.

The new president will face a myriad of issues, including the challenge of maintaining peace and stability in the deep oil-rich pockets of the nation’s delta. Former President Yar’Adua was celebrated by many for bringing peace to the Niger Delta region. Rich in oil deposits, the Niger Delta region, has generated significant wealth for the country. With one of the most developed economies in Africa, Nigeria’s growth depends heavily on the export of oil; revenues from oil account for 80% of the country’s GDP and 90% of its total exports. Nigeria is the 12th largest producer of petroleum in the world. After struggling through losses last year related to the global financial crisis, a Nigerian central banker reports that the country’s economy is poised to grow 7% this year.

The resilience of a number of emerging market countries following the recession has ignited an interesting discussion regarding a shift in the global balance of economic power in the decades to come. According to a special report in this week’s Economist, four particular countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China- stand poised to set the agenda for economic reform. Hopefully, Nigeria will attain the good governance goals that the President Jonathan has set out and maintain peace in the Niger Delta region. President Jonathan’s given name suggests that fortune may already be on his side.

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