Boom time in Nigeria?

femi kuti

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"There is no boom here," said Nigerian musician and activist Femi Kuti, putting his trumpet down on the sofa and tuning the television to live coverage of the Nigerian parliament's discussions about corruption in the oil industry.

"It's like a big joke. The politicians are stealing billions - corruption is an incurable cancer," he declared.

As for Nigeria's economic growth - likely to be around 7% this year - "it's just a big propaganda by multinationals, the British government and African governments… to pretend that Africa is doing well," said Mr Kuti, pointing to the endemic poverty that surrounds his home in one of the distant suburbs of Lagos.

Like his famous father, Femi Kuti is a Nigerian icon who has woven his music and political activism into a powerful, compelling brand. He and his band played to the crowds who gathered earlier this month in protest against the lifting of Nigeria's controversial fuel subsidy. "We're kind of scared [to protest] - nobody wants to die here, but if people see my band then many people - and many middle class people… would be encouraged to come out," he said.

The government eventually bowed to public pressure and reinstated part of the subsidy. "I'm still very disappointed," said Mr Kuti, arguing that the protesters "shouldn't have backed down" until the price of fuel was lowered to its original price.

If you feel Mr Kuti is being too harsh on Nigeria, do take a look at the film we put together about Nigeria's "boom," which includes several other perspectives.

Nigeria at the heart of African economic renaissance

Sadly I didn't get a chance to see Femi Kuti perform at the Shrine - the famous Lagos club where his band plays twice a week. He's been nominated for a Grammy again this year, but says isn't planning to attend the ceremony. I left him at the gate of his comfortable, but fairly modest house, where he was waiting for his youngest children to return from school.

Andrew Harding, Africa correspondent Article written by Andrew Harding Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    What boom? Multinational oil corps in Niger Delta abuse environement through operations like flaring gas into atmosphere & oil spills into land & waters destroying Delta ecosystem. Farming & fishing are main occupations in the Delta. Countless spills have been reported caused by oil giants like SHELL, AGIP, CHEVRON, ELF, TOTAL & MOBIL.
    So Goodluck, where is your demand for compensation?

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    @ 30M people live in Niger Delta - 1 of world’s most polluted regions. Niger Delta is Africa’s biggest & world’s 3rd largest river delta. VAST OIL, but inhabitants do not benefit - despite Nigeria ranking 7th among world’s oil producing nations. More oil is spilled across the region EACH YEAR than was spilled in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
    Goodluck, where are you? These are your people!

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Boom! boom! You hear it in Maiduguri, Madalla, Kano, Adamawa, Yobe, Suleija, and Abuja. You hear it in Bayelsa and Warri. Even more boom in the east, kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery, aka-azu! Economy is booming in opposite direction, factories closing shop, goods stacked in the ports waiting on booming red tape. Corruption is booming too in govt. PHCN is booming-Pls hold candles now!

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Decades - oil spillage, waste dumping, gas flaring have polluted the Niger Delta. Little has been done to clean Niger Delta which is 1 of 10 essential wetlands & coastal marine ecosystems. Severe pollution has caused irreparable damage to the soil, water, air & wildlife. Thousands of Nigerians suffer. With this much oil, & far less corruption, Nigeria could be booming.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I hear the boom from Boko Haram, Kidnapping, Unemployment, No real sector, Corruption, Subsidy Removal hearings, Steal big money, little or no jail time etc.


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