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Obasi: Nigerian President Will Try to 'Bring a Human Face' to Economic Policy

Interviewee: Nnamdi Obasi
Interviewer: Stephanie Hanson
August 20, 2007

Since Nigeria’s tumultuous and widely disputed elections earlier this year, the country has remained relatively quiet. In discussing what can be expected from Umaru Yar’Adua, Nigeria’s new president — senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, Nnamdi Obasi, says that Yar’Adua will continue with the economic policies of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and fight against corruption. But as time goes on, Obasi expects the new president to assert himself and “try to bring a human face” to some of the previous administration’s economic policies, which did not improve the general quality of life for the Nigerian population.

“There is a very serious need at this time to focus on rebuilding basic infrastructure,” he contends. Excess oil revenue was built up into a large foreign reserves account, which he says should be directed into massive infrastructure projects. Obasi acknowledges there is a problem with corruption throughout Nigeria, so in order to ensure these funds are not wasted, it is necessary to strengthen state legislatures, empower civil society, and improve the capacity of the federal government’s anticorruption agencies. Despite the challenges facing Nigeria, Obasi says the government has taken bold steps to curb corruption, and the fact that the country did not descend into violence following the elections “creates an opportunity to rebuild democratic institutions and to start to restore confidence in the democratic process.”  

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