I just read from the Financial Times, through the PSD blog, that the Nigerian government is considering giving part of the proceeds of oil exploration to indigenes of the Niger Delta region. The amount is about $20 a year.
According to its architects, the Nigerian scheme could make about $555m annually available – about $20 a year for every man, woman and child of the delta’s 28m people, a significant amount in a region where 70 per cent live on less than $1.50 a day.
They are not going to get the money in cash but as some kind of share in community trust funds. Each person in each community will have a share in the trust fund of their community. This is to sort of bypass the Niger Delta state and local government authorities. (Well, we all know how corrupt those have been.)
The FT report also notes a potential source of tension:
A heated debate one recent morning in the royal hut of the Edagberi clan suggests the tensions that could emerge. “Some communities, they only have a pipeline or access road,” says Anigbo Williams, 52, chief of one of the clan’s six communities. “If you give him with his one well [a payment] and come and give me with 44 wells the same, you have a problem: we will feel we have been cheated.”
I can also see problems of how to decide who an indigene is. Those who still live there, those who were born there or those who can prove that they are from there?
What do Nigerians think of the scheme? Do we treat it with characteristic Nigerian scepticism or perhaps even dismissiveness? Could it work?