While the mere fact that western outlets are openly pontificating in advance on the possibility of an African, or more pointedly, a ‘Nigerian spring’ distinguishes the current fuel subsidy row from the MENA wide, spontaneous surge ignited last year by a Tunisian street vendor’s self-immolation, there is a fil conducteur of sorts–namely an “ever simmering, north-south regional and religious bifurcation” per my macro commentary from last week’s Alterio Research report.  It would be a mistake, however, to simply equate various cultural tensions given at a minimum their inherent contextual and historical differences.  And it would be equally erroneous to expect markets to do so.  Nigerian ’21 yields actually narrowed despite mentions of an industry wide shutdown as the subsidy removal is deemed essential to its credit status per S&P and long term positive for the state’s creditors.  Left unanswered, however, is how the government can simultaneously meet its stated goal of reducing its fiscal deficit to less than 3% of GDP–a key tenet per its central bank in stabilizing the exchange rate and interest rates–while under increasing pressure by the aforementioned social divisions to maintain security and also address myriad and ever-mounting grievances.

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