A Reform Cabinet for Nigeria

It’s worth trying to keep in mind that huge numbers of people live in countries we rarely talk about. For example, there are about 150 million Nigerians and conditions are, on average, not good. So policy improvements there, at the margin, are probably much more important for human welfare than the latest antics in congress. And Elizabeth Dickinson says that Acting President Goodluck Jonathan’s new cabinet sends all the right signals:

The first message comes from the keeping of two ministers who have won international plaudits for their business and investor friendly policies: Finance Minister Shamsudeen Usman and Minister of State for Petroleum Henry Odein Ajumogobia. Both have a solid technocratic reputation, and their staying in office no doubt signals that Nigeria wants to stay open to business, despite other turmoil.

But to the feuding political classes, Jonathan has signalled the ousting of pretty much everyone else — with the noted exception of the Information Minister, Dora Akunyili, who had incidentally called for the incapacitated President Umaru Yar’Adua’s resignation and Jonathan’s official instatement as president. Loyalty, in Nigerian politics, is rarely overlooked.

Of course to progressive blog readers “business-friendly” doesn’t always come across as a good thing. But when thinking about the developing world, it’s worth keeping in mind Karl Marx’s point that a constructing a functioning capitalist economy is a huge step forward from crushing poverty.