There are many proposed explanations for Nigeria’s situation. Some blame corruption, while others blame colonialism. But the real problem has been disastrous government policy. Like Venezuela, Nigeria allowed its central government to exert outsized control over its economy, which led to inefficiency and stagnation.
Until recently, Nigeria’s Federal government was responsible for practically all oil refining through its state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). But because its poorly-managed refineries fell into disrepair, the government relied on imports to meet its populations’ demand for fuel.
Put simply, Nigeria produces crude oil which it sells to the United States, China, and the European Union, only to re-import gasoline at a higher price, subsidize that gasoline, and sell it to consumers at a massive loss.
According to Bloomberg, Nigeria spent four times as much money subsidizing fuel as it spent building schools, health centers, and science labs in 2019. This has led to mass emigration and widespread poverty in the country. Now, with oil prices at unprecedented lows, the country is about to collapse in a Venezuela-like catastrophe.
According to the Fitch Rating Agency, Nigeria’s break-even oil price is $133, the highest in the world. This is because of an inflated government budget that includes, among other things, Senator salaries in the range of $37,000 a month.
To address these challenges, Nigeria has discontinued its insane fuel subsidy and is considering reducing its 2020 budget by around $4.9 billion. According to the country’s finance minister Zainab Ahmed, the new budget assumes crude oil production of 2.1 million a day at an average price of $30 a barrel. But with oil prices falling below zero, this new budget won’t stop Nigeria’s slide towards insolvency.
It is also important to note that Nigerian senators will still enjoy their $37,500 monthly salaries under the new budget cuts.