The bust that shaped Nigeria

The years after Nigeria’s independence in 1960 and later the oil boom in the 1970s marked the peak of the population’s confidence in the nation. Massive investments were made in infrastructure, linking people all over the country. The railway system was a source of national pride.

Then the oil bust happened and everything changed. To address the economic decline, the World Bank and IMF prescribed structural adjustment programmes. Public spending was cut and the infrastructure deteriorated.
– People began to distrust public institutions and to lose faith in the government’s ability to create a better tomorrow, says NAI researcher Ulrika Trovalla.

Recently however, the government has started to repair and extend the railway tracks. In the city of Jos in central Nigeria, the train station, which for many years was used by street hawkers as storage space, has been cleared up and repainted in anticipation of the new rails that will soon reach the city.

– Still, people don’t buy it. “I’ll believe it when l see it” is a common response when l talk to the citizens of Jos, Ulrika Trovalla says.

Infrastructural failure is widespread and interconnected. If the power grid is off, as it often is, the water company can’t pump water into the pipes. Nigeria is one of the most generator-dense countries on earth, but having a generator is not always the solution, since the fuel supply is highly unpredictable.

– All this has led to a society where people have to find their own solutions to cope with everyday life. One just can’t count on public service delivery in Nigeria, says Ulrika Trovalla.

Read about Ulrika Trovalla's project.

Download Erik and Ulrika Trovalla's photo exhibition 'Suprastructure' which also can be seen during the Nordic Africa Days 2014 in Uppsala 25-28 September.


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