Nigeria Working Group

Staff: Princeton N. Lyman
February 1, 2003 - Present

The Africa program was a co-sponsor of the Corporate Council on Africa-Nigeria Economic Summit Group's U.S.-Nigeria Investment Conference in Abuja, September 15-17, 2004. The Council's delegation included Council Senior Fellow Walter Mead, President of the Fund for Peace, Pauline Baker, and the Director. They met with the finance minister, the minister of education, several state governors and local government officials, and others. The Director gave an address on the final day of the investment conference. It indicates the importance, but still tenuousness of economic reform in Nigeria.


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The meetings in this project have helped shape what the Council can most usefully do to support the Nigerian reform effort. There is a dedicated and talented reform team in place in Nigeria, but their impact on other Ministries, the Assembly, and subsequently with State Governors is still quite uncertain. There is also considerable cynicism in Nigeria about reform.

The project's efforts to develop an integrated political and economic strategy for debt-relief; election reform; and corruption intensified with the visit of the Nigerian Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in March and the Director's visit to Nigeria later that month.

During the minister's visit, the Africa program hosted several meetings in New York and Washington. On March 1, Council member and Nigeria Working Group participant, George Soros hosted a dinner at his home for the minister with policymakers, media and business people. The New York Times ran a favorable editorial on Nigeria's progress around the minister's visit. At special Council briefing sessions in New York on March 2 and in Washington on March 3, hosted by our Nigeria project, the minister updated Council members and others on the progress to date of the government's economic reforms.

Growing out of these sessions, there have been significant developments. With Council help, Nigeria has now developed a more specific and effective debt relief strategy. The project is also heavily invested in addressing the need for electoral reform before the 2007 presidential election. The Director participated in a workshop on electoral reform in Nigeria, March 15-17, sponsored by American University and the Yar'Adua Memorial Center. The workshop developed a set of principles for party leaders and a specific set of needed reforms. The Director also was a speaker at the closing session of the workshop. Electoral reform is critical to stability and continuity in Nigeria after 2007 and it is an important step toward a more comprehensive debt relief strategy with creditors worried about post-2007 developments. Also, the project contributes to the development of the terms of reference and bidding requests for a complete audit of the Nigerian oil and gas sector. Once complete, the audit it will put Nigeria at the forefront of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), endorsed at the last G8 meeting.

In 2004, the project received funding from the Ford Foundation and Shell International. The project is currently funded by a grant from Shell International.

The Director works with Equatorial Guinea, another oil-rich country in the region, to develop mechanisms to assure that oil proceeds are utilized for the benefit of the people in that country.

During the 2005-2006 program year, the project will focus on electoral reform by helping in seminars for the National Conference on Political Reform created by President Obasanjo, the Nigerian Parliament, and the Nigerian NGO community. The first of these should be held within three months and the latter two by the end of 2005 or early 2006.

The Director will visit the region several times in during the course of the year, traveling to the Gulf of Guinea and in other trips hosting small brainstorming sessions in the lead up to the 2007 elections in Nigeria in Abuja.


A Conversation with the Nigerian Minister of Finance

Presider: Princeton N. Lyman
Speaker: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Republic of Nigeria
March 3, 2005

This meeting is not for attribution.

Nigeria: An Update from the Finance Minister

Presider: Princeton N. Lyman
Speaker: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Republic of Nigeria
March 2, 2005

This meeting is not for attribution.

Update on Nigeria and the Delta

Presider: Princeton N. Lyman
Speakers: Christopher Finlayson, Regional CEO for EP Africa, Shell Africa, Aminu Wali, Permanent Representative of Nigeria, United Nations
November 4, 2004

This meeting is not for attribution.