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The Federal Republic Of Nigeria – An Overview

from: wikipedia.com

Nigeria, officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising thirty-six states and one Federal Capital Territory. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast lies on the Gulf of Guinea, a part of the Atlantic Ocean, in the south. The capital city is Abuja. The three largest and most influential ethnic groups in Nigeria are the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.

The people of Nigeria have an extensive history, and archaeological evidence shows that human habitation of the area dates back to at least 9000 BCE. The Benue-Cross River area is thought to be the original homeland of the Bantu migrants who spread across most of central and southern Africa in waves between the 1st millennium BCE and the 2nd millennium CE.

The name Nigeria was created from a portmanteau of the words Niger and Area, taken from the River Niger running through Nigeria. This name was coined by Flora Shaw, the future wife of Baron Lugard, a British colonial administrator, in the late 19th century.

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the eighth most populous country in the world with a population of over 150 million, therefore making it the most populous ‘black’ country in the world. It is a regional power, is listed among the “Next Eleven” economies, and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The economy of Nigeria is one of the fastest growing in the world with the International Monetary Fund projecting a growth of 9% in 2008 and 8.3% in 2009.

Early history
The Bini mask is one of Nigeria’s most famous and recognized products
1850 steel engraving of Kano

The Nok people in central Nigeria produced terracotta sculptures that have been discovered by archaeologists. A Nok sculpture resident at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, portrays a sitting dignitary wearing a “Shepherds Crook” on the right arm, and a “hinged flail” on the left. These are symbols of authority associated with ancient Egyptian pharaohs, and the god Osiris, and suggests that an ancient Egyptian style of social structure, and perhaps religion, existed in the area of modern Nigeria during the late Pharonic period. In the northern part of the country, Kano and Katsina has recorded history which dates back to around CE 999. Hausa kingdoms and the Kanem-Bornu Empire prospered as trade posts between North and West Africa.

The Yoruba people date their presence in the area of modern republics of Nigeria, Benin and Togo to about 8500 BCE. The kingdoms of Ifẹ and Oyo in the western block of Nigeria became prominent about 700-900 and 1400 respectively. However, the Yoruba mythology believes that Ile-Ife is the source of the human race and that it predates any other civilization. Ifẹ produced the terra cotta and bronze heads, the Ọyọ extended as far as modern Togo. Another prominent kingdom in south western Nigeria was the Kingdom of Benin whose power lasted between the 15th and 19th century. Their dominance reached as far as the well known city of Eko, later named Lagos by the Portuguese.

In southeastern Nigeria the Kingdom of Nri of the Igbo people flourished from the controversial date of around the 10th century CE until 1911 CE. The Nri Kingdom was ruled by the Eze Nri. The city of Nri is considered to be the foundation of Igbo culture. Nri and Aguleri, where the Igbo creation myth originates, are in the territory of the Umeuri clan, who trace their lineages back to the patriarchal king-figure, Eri.

Colonial era

Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to begin trade in Nigeria, and called the port Lagos after the Portuguese town of Lagos, in Algarve. This name stuck on with more European trade with the region. The Europeans traded with the ethnicities of the coast and also established a trade in slaves which affected many Nigerian ethnicities. Following the Napoleonic Wars, the British expanded trade with the Nigerian interior. In 1885 British claims to a West African sphere of influence received international recognition and in the following year the Royal Niger Company was chartered under the leadership of Sir George Taubman Goldie. In 1900 the company’s territory came under the control of the British government, which moved to consolidate its hold over the area of modern Nigeria. On January 1, 1901 Nigeria became a British protectorate, part of the British Empire, the foremost world power at the time.
Stamp of Southern Nigeria picturing Victoria of the United Kingdom, 1901

In 1914, the area was formally united as the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria. Administratively, Nigeria remained divided into the northern and southern provinces and Lagos colony. Western education and the development of a modern economy proceeded more rapidly in the south than in the north, with consequences felt in Nigeria’s political life ever since. Slavery was not finally outlawed in northern Nigeria until 1936. Following World War II, in response to the growth of Nigerian nationalism and demands for independence, successive constitutions legislated by the British Government moved Nigeria toward self-government on a representative and increasingly federal basis. By the middle of the 20th century, the great wave for independence was sweeping across Africa.

Post-independence

On October 1, 1960, Nigeria gained its independence from the United Kingdom. The new republic incorporated a number of people with aspirations of their own sovereign nations. Newly independent Nigeria’s government was a coalition of conservative parties: the Nigerian People’s Congress (NPC), a party dominated by Northerners and those of the Islamic faith, and the Igbo and Christian dominated National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) led by Nnamdi Azikiwe, who became Nigeria’s maiden Governor-General in 1960. Forming the opposition was the comparatively liberal Action Group (AG), which was largely dominated by Yoruba people and led by Obafemi Awolowo.
Map of Nigeria

An imbalance was created in the polity by the result of the 1961 plebiscite. Southern Cameroon opted to join the Republic of Cameroon while northern Cameroon chose to remain in Nigeria. The northern part of the country was now far larger than the southern part. The nation parted with its British legacy in 1963 by declaring itself a Federal Republic, with Azikiwe as the first president. When elections came about in 1965, the AG was outmanoeuvered for control of Nigeria’s Western Region by the Nigerian National Democratic Party, an amalgamation of conservative Yoruba elements backed heavily by the Federal Government amid dubious electoral circumstances.[citation needed]

Nigerian-Biafran War
Main article: Nigerian Civil War

This disequilibrium and perceived corruption of the electoral and political process led in 1966 to several back-to-back military coups. The first was in January and led by a collection of young leftists under Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna and Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu. It was partially successful – the coupists murdered the Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the Premier of the Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, and the Premier of the Western Region, Sir Ladoke Akintola. Despite this, the coupists could not set up a central government due to logistic reasons. Sir Nwafor Orizu, the acting President was then pressured to hand over government to the Nigeria Army, under the Command of General JTU Aguyi-Ironsi. This coup was counter-acted by another successful plot, supported primarily by Northern military officers and Northerners who favoured the NPC, it was engineered by Northern officers, which allowed Lt Colonel Yakubu Gowon to become head of state. This sequence of events led to an increase in ethnic tension and violence. The Northern coup, which was mostly motivated by ethnic and religious reasons was a bloodbath of both military officers and civilians, especially those of Igbo extraction.
Map of the Republic of Biafra

The violence against the Igbo increased their desire for autonomy and protection from the military’s wrath. By May 1967, the Eastern Region had declared itself an independent state called the Republic of Biafra under the leadership of Lt Colonel Emeka Ojukwu in line with the wishes of the people. The Nigerian Civil War began as the Nigerian (Western and Northern) side attacked Biafra (South-eastern) on July 6, 1967 at Garkem signalling the beginning of the 30 month war that ended in January 1970. Following the war, Nigeria became to an extent even more mired in ethnic strife, as the defeated southeast and indeed southern Nigeria was now conquered territory for the federal military regime, which changed heads of state twice as army officers staged a bloodless coup against Gowon and enthroned Murtala Mohammed; Olusegun Obansanjo succeeded the former after an assassination.[citation needed]

Military era

During the oil boom of the 1970s, Nigeria joined OPEC and billions of dollars generated by production in the oil-rich Niger Delta flowed into the coffers of the Nigerian state. However, increasing corruption and graft at all levels of government squandered most of these earnings.[citation needed] The northern military clique benefited immensely from the oil boom to the detriment of the Nigerian people and economy. As oil revenues fuelled the rise of federal subventions to states and precariously to individuals, the Federal Government soon became the centre of political struggle and the centre became the threshold of power in the country. As oil production and revenue rose, the Nigerian government created a dangerous situation as it became increasingly dependent on oil revenues and the international commodity markets for budgetary and economic concerns eschewing economic stability. That spelled doom to federalism in Nigeria.

Beginning in 1979, Nigerians participated in a brief return to democracy when Obasanjo transferred power to the civilian regime of Shehu Shagari. The Shagari government was viewed as corrupt and incompetent by virtually all sectors of Nigerian society, so when the regime was overthrown by the military coup of Mohammadu Buhari shortly after the regime’s fraudulent re-election in 1984, it was generally viewed as a positive development by most of the population. Buhari promised major reforms but his government fared little better than its predecessor, and his regime was overthrown by yet another military coup in 1985. The new head of state, Ibrahim Babangida, promptly declared himself President and Commander in chief of the Armed Forces and the ruling Supreme Military Council and also set 1990 as the official deadline for a return to democratic governance. Babangida’s tenure was marked by a flurry of political activity: he instituted the International Monetary Fund’s Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) to aid in the repayment of the country’s crushing international debt, which most federal revenue was dedicated to servicing. He also inflamed religious tensions in the nation and particularly the south by enrolling Nigeria in the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

After Babangida survived an abortive coup, he pushed back the promised return to democracy to 1992. When free and fair elections were finally held on the 12th of June, 1993, Babangida declared that the results showing a presidential victory for Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola null and void, sparking mass civilian violence in protest which effectively shut down the country for weeks and forced Babangida to keep his shaky promise to relinquish office to a civilian run government.[20] Babangida’s regime is adjudged to be at the apogee of corruption in the history of the nation as it was during his time that corruption became officially diluted in Nigeria.

Babangida’s caretaker regime headed by Ernest Shonekan survived only until late 1993 when General Sani Abacha took power in another military coup. Abacha proved to be perhaps Nigeria’s most brutal ruler and employed violence on a wide scale to suppress the continuing pandemic of civilian unrest. Money had been found in various western European countries banks traced to him. He avoided coup plots by bribing army generals. Several hundred millions dollars in accounts traced to him were unearthed in 1999. The regime would come to an end in 1998 when the dictator was found dead amid dubious circumstances. Abacha’s death yielded an opportunity for return to civilian rule.

Recent history

Nigeria re-achieved democracy in 1999 when it elected Olusegun Obasanjo, a Yoruba and former military head of state, as the new President ending almost thirty three-years of military rule (from 1966 until 1999) excluding the short-lived second republic (between 1979-1983) by military dictators who seized power in coups d’état and counter-coups during the Nigerian military juntas of 1966-1979 and 1983-1998.

Although the elections which brought Obasanjo to power in 1999 and again in 2003 were condemned as unfree and unfair, Nigeria has shown marked improvements in attempts to tackle government corruption and to hasten development. While Obasanjo showed willingness to fight corruption, he was accused by others of the same.[who?]

Umaru Yar’Adua, of the People’s Democratic Party, came into power in the general election of 2007 – an election that was witnessed and condemned by the international community as being massively flawed.

Ethnic violence over the oil producing Niger Delta region (see Conflict in the Niger Delta) and inadequate infrastructures are some of the current issues in the country.

Government
Main article: Politics of Nigeria
See also: Government of Nigeria and Federal Ministries of Nigeria

Nigeria is a Federal Republic modelled after the United States, with executive power exercised by the president and with overtones of the Westminster System model in the composition and management of the upper and lower houses of the bicameral legislature.
Umaru Yar’Adua of the People’s Democratic Party is the current president of Nigeria

The current president of Nigeria is Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who was elected in 2007. The president presides as both Chief of State and Head of Government and is elected by popular vote to a maximum of two four-year terms. The president’s power is checked by a Senate and a House of Representatives, which are combined in a bicameral body called the National Assembly. The Senate is a 109-seat body with three members from each state and one from the capital region of Abuja; members are elected by popular vote to four-year terms. The House contains 360 seats and the number of seats per state is determined by population.

Ethnocentricism, tribalism, sectarianism (especially religious), and prebendalism have played a visible role in Nigerian politics both prior and subsequent to independence in 1960. Kin-selective altruism has made its way into Nigerian politics and has spurned various attempts by tribalists to concentrate Federal power to a particular region of their interests. Nationalism has also led to active secessionist movements such as MASSOB, Nationalist movements such as Oodua Peoples Congress, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta and a civil war. Nigeria’s three largest ethnic groups have maintained historical preeminence in Nigerian politics; competition amongst these three groups, the Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo, has fuelled corruption and graft.

Due to the above issues, Nigeria’s current political parties are pan-national and irreligious in character (though this does not preclude the continuing preeminence of the dominant ethnicities). The major political parties at present include the ruling People’s Democratic Party of Nigeria which maintains 223 seats in the House and 76 in the Senate (61.9% and 69.7% respectively) and is led by the current President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua; the opposition All Nigeria People’s Party under the leadership of Muhammadu Buhari has 96 House seats and 27 in the Senate (26.6% and 24.7%). There are also about twenty other minor opposition parties registered. The immediate past president, Olusegun Obasanjo, acknowledged fraud and other electoral “lapses” but said the result reflected opinion polls. In a national television address he added that if Nigerians did not like the victory of his handpicked successor they would have an opportunity to vote again in four years.
Flag of Nigeria National Symbols of Nigeria
Flag Bicolour
Emblem Coat of arms of Nigeria
Anthem Arise, O Compatriots
Animal Eagle
Bird Black Crowned Crane
Flower Costus spectabilis
Sport Football

Like in many other African societies, prebendalism and extremely excessive corruption continue to constitute major challenges to Nigeria, as vote rigging and other means of coercion are practised by all major parties in order to remain competitive. In 1983, it was adjudged by the policy institute at Kuru that only the 1959 and 1979 elections witnessed minimal rigging.

Law

There are four distinct systems of law in Nigeria:

* English law which is derived from its colonial past with Britain;
* Common law, a development of its post colonial independence;
* Customary law which is derived from indigenous traditional norms and practice, including the dispute resolution meetings of pre-colonial Yorubaland secret societies;
* Sharia law, used only in the predominantly Muslim north of the country. It is an Islamic legal system which had been used long before the colonial administration in Nigeria but recently politicised and spearheaded in Zamfara in late 1999 and eleven other states followed suit. These states are Kano, Katsina, Niger, Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Gombe, Sokoto, Jigawa, Yobe, and Kebbi.

The country has a judicial branch, the highest court of which is the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

Foreign relations and military
National Assembly complex in Abuja
Main articles: Foreign relations of Nigeria and Military of Nigeria

Upon gaining independence in 1960, Nigeria made the liberation and restoration of the dignity of Africa the centrepiece of its foreign policy and played a leading role in the fight against the apartheid regime in South Africa. One notable exception to the African focus of Nigeria’s foreign policy was the close relationship the country enjoyed with Israel throughout the 1960s, with the latter country sponsoring and overseeing the construction of Nigeria’s parliament buildings.

Nigeria’s foreign policy was soon tested in the 1970s after the country emerged united from its own civil war and quickly committed itself to the liberation struggles going on in the Southern Africa sub-region. Though Nigeria never sent an expeditionary force in that struggle, it offered more than rhetoric to the African National Congress (ANC) by taking a committed tough line with regard to the racist regime and their incursions in southern Africa, in addition to expediting large sums to aid anti-colonial struggles. Nigeria was also a founding member of the Organization for African Unity (now the African Union), and has tremendous influence in West Africa and Africa on the whole. Nigeria has additionally founded regional cooperative efforts in West Africa, functioning as standard-bearer for ECOWAS and ECOMOG, economic and military organizations respectively.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo with US President Jimmy Carter in Lagos, 1978.

With this African-centred stance, Nigeria readily sent troops to the Congo at the behest of the United Nations shortly after independence (and has maintained membership since that time); Nigeria also supported several Pan African and pro-self government causes in the 1970s, including garnering support for Angola’s MPLA, SWAPO in Namibia, and aiding anti-colonial struggles in Mozambique, and Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) military and economically.

Nigeria retains membership in the Non-Aligned Movement, and in late November 2006 organized an Africa-South America Summit in Abuja to promote what some attendees termed “South-South” linkages on a variety of fronts. Nigeria is also a member of the International Criminal Court, and the Commonwealth of Nations, from which it was temporarily expelled in 1995 under the Abacha regime.
Nigerian troops with a US C-130 Hercules

Nigeria has remained a key player in the international oil industry since the 1970s, and maintains membership in Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries OPEC which it joined in July, 1971. Its status as a major petroleum producer figures prominently in its sometimes vicissitudinous international relations with both developed countries, notably the United States and more recently China and developing countries, notably Ghana, Jamaica and Kenya.
The NNS Aradu, a MEKO 360 class frigate, flagship of the Nigerian Navy

Millions of Nigerians have emigrated at times of economic hardship to Europe, North America and Australia among others. It is estimated that over a million Nigerians have emigrated to the United States and constitute the Nigerian American populace. Of such Diasporic communities include the “Egbe Omo Yoruba” society.

The Nigerian Military are charged with protecting The Federal Republic of Nigeria, promoting Nigeria’s global security interests, and supporting peacekeeping efforts especially in West Africa.

The Nigerian Military consist of an Army, a Navy and an Air Force. The military in Nigeria have played a major role in the country’s history since independence. Various juntas have seized control of the country and ruled it through most of its history. Its last period of rule ended in 1999 following the sudden death of former dictator Sani Abacha in 1998, with his successor, Abdulsalam Abubakar handing over to the democratically elected government of Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999.

Taking advantage of its role of Africa’s most populated country, Nigeria has repositioned its military as an African peacekeeping force. Since 1995, the Nigerian military through ECOMOG mandates have been deployed as peacekeepers in Liberia (1997), Ivory Coast (1997-1999), Sierra Leone 1997-1999, and presently in Sudan’s Darfur region under an African Union mandate.

Geography

Nigeria is located in western Africa on the Gulf of Guinea and has a total area of 923,768 km² (356,669 mi²), making it the world’s 32nd-largest country (after Tanzania). It is comparable in size to Venezuela, and is about twice the size of California. It shares a 4047 km (2515-mile) border with Benin (773 km), Niger (1497 km), Chad (87 km), Cameroon (1690 km), and has a coastline of at least 853 km.

Nigeria has a varied landscape. From the Obudu Hills in the southeast through the beaches in the south, the rainforest, the Lagos estuary and savannah in the middle and southwest of the country and the Sahel to the encroaching Sahara in the extreme north. The highest point in Nigeria is Chappal Waddi at 2,419 m (7,936 ft).

Nigeria’s main rivers are the Niger and the Benue which converge and empty into the Niger Delta, the world’s largest river deltas.

Nigeria is also an important centre for biodiversity. It is widely believed that the areas surrounding Calabar, Cross River State, contain the world’s largest diversity of butterflies. The drill monkey is only found in the wild in Southeast Nigeria and neighboring Cameroon.

Nigeria’s most expansive topographical region is that of the valleys of the Niger and Benue River valleys (which merge into each other and form a “y” shape). Plains rise to the north of the valleys. To the southwest of the Niger there is “rugged” highland, and to the southeast of the Benue hills and mountains are found all the way to the border with Cameroon. Coastal plains are found in both the southwest and the southeast.
Satellite image of Nigeria

When dividing Nigeria by climatic regions, three regions, the far south, the far north, and the rest of the country emerge. The far south is defined by its tropical rainforest climate, where annual rainfall is 60 to 80 inches a year. The far north is defined by its almost desert-like climate, where rain is less than 20 inches per year. The rest of the country, everything in between the far south and the far north, is savannah, and rainfall is between 20 and 60 inches per year.

Nigeria is covered by three types of vegetation: forests (where there is significant tree cover), savannah (insignificant tree cover, with grasses and flowers located between trees), and montane land. (The latter is the least common, and is mainly found in the mountains near the Cameroonian border.) Both the forest zone and the savannah zone are divided into three parts.

The forest zone’s most southerly portion is defined as salt water swamp, also known as a mangrove swamp due to the large amount of mangroves in the area. North of this is fresh water swamp, containing different vegetation from the salt water swamp, and north of that is rain forest.

The savannah zone’s three categories are divided into “Guinea savannah,” the most common across the country, “Sudan savannah,” and “Sahel savannah.” Guinea savannah is made up of plains of tall grass which are interrupted by trees; Sudan savannah is similar but with “shorter grasses and shorter trees.” Sahel savannah is comprised patches of grass and sand, and is found in the northeast.

Subdivisions
Main articles: States of Nigeria, Local Government Areas of Nigeria, and List of cities in Nigeria

Nigeria is divided into thirty-six states and one Federal Capital Territory, which are further sub-divided into 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs). The plethora of states, of which there were only three at independence, reflect the country’s tumultuous history and the difficulties of managing such a heterogeneous national entity at all levels of government.

Nigeria has six cities with a population of over 1 million people (from largest to smallest: Lagos, Kano, Ibadan, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, and Benin City). Lagos is the largest city in sub-Saharan Africa, with a population of over 10 million in its urban area alone. Population of Nigeria’s cities over a million include Lagos (7,937,932), Kano (3,848,885), Ibadan (3,078,400), Kaduna (1,652,844), Port Harcourt (1,320,214), Benin City (1,051,600), Maiduguri (1,044,497) and Zaria (1,018,827)
States of Nigeria, there are a total of 36 states in Nigeria and then Abuja, the federal capital territory.

States:

1. Abuja
2. Anambra
3. Enugu
4. Akwa Ibom
5. Adamawa
6. Abia
7. Bauchi
8. Bayelsa
9. Benue
10. Borno
11. Cross River
12. Delta
13. Ebonyi

14. Edo
15. Ekiti
16. Gombe
17. Imo
18. Jigawa
19. Kaduna
20. Kano
21. Katsina
22. Kebbi
23. Kogi
24. Kwara
25. Lagos
26. Nasarawa

27. Niger
28. Ogun
29. Ondo
30. Osun
31. Oyo
32. Plateau
33. Rivers
34. Sokoto
35. Taraba
36. Yobe
37. Zamfara

Federal Capital Territory: Abuja

Environment

Nigeria’s Delta region, home of the large oil industry, experiences serious oil spills and other environmental problems. See Environmental issues in the Niger Delta for more details, and Conflict in the Niger Delta about strife which has arisen in connection with those issues.

Waste management including sewage treatment, the linked processes of deforestation and soil degradation, and climate change or global warming are the major environmental problems in Nigeria.
The ‘Okada’ is a motorcycle and is Nigeria’s most popular form of public transport.

Waste management presents problems in a mega city like Lagos and other major Nigerian cities which are linked with economic development, population growth and the inability of municipal councils to manage the resulting rise in industrial and domestic waste. Haphazard industrial planning, increased urbanization, poverty and lack of competence of the municipal government are seen as the major reasons for high levels of waste pollution in major Nigerian cities. Some of the ‘solutions’ have been disastrous to the environment, resulting in untreated waste being dumped in places where it can pollute waterways and groundwater.

In terms of global warming, Africans contribute only about one metric ton of carbon dioxide per person per year. It is perceived by many climate change experts that food production and security in the northern sahel region of the country will suffer as semi-arid areas will have more dry periods in the future.

Economy of Nigeria

Nigeria is classified as an emerging market, and is rapidly approaching middle income status[citation needed], with its abundant supply of resources, well-developed financial, legal, communications, transport sectors and stock exchange (the Nigerian Stock Exchange), which is the second largest in Africa. Nigeria is ranked 37th in the world in terms of GDP (PPP) as of 2007. Nigeria is the United States’ largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa and supplies a fifth of its oil (11% of oil imports). It has the seventh-largest trade surplus with the U.S. of any country worldwide. Nigeria is currently the 50th-largest export market for U.S. goods and the 14th-largest exporter of goods to the U.S. The United States is the country’s largest foreign investor.
Lagos, the largest financial center of Nigeria

The bulk of economic activity is centred in 4 main cities: Lagos, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, and Abuja. Beyond these three economic centers, development is marginal.

Previously, economic development had been hindered by years of military rule, corruption, and mismanagement, the restoration of democracy and subsequent economic reforms have successfully put Nigeria back on track towards achieving its full economic potential as one of the Major Economies in Africa.[citation needed] According to the Economist Intelligence Unit and the World Bank, Nigerian GDP at purchasing power parity has nearly doubled from $170.7 billion in 2005 to 292.6 billion in 2007. The GDP per head has jumped from $692 per person in 2006 to $1,754 per person in 2007.

During the oil boom of the 1970s, Nigeria accumulated a significant foreign debt to finance major infrastructural investments. With the fall of oil prices during the oil glutthe 1980s, Nigeria struggled to keep up with its loan payments and eventually defaulted on its principal debt repayments, limiting repayment to the interest portion of the loans. Arrears and penalty interest accumulated on the unpaid principal which increased the size of the debt. However, after negotiations by the Nigeria authorities, in October 2005 Nigeria and its Paris Club creditors reached an agreement in which Nigeria repurchased its debt at a discount of approximately 60%. Nigeria used part of its oil profits to pay the residual 40%, freeing up at least $1.15 billion annually for poverty reduction programmes. Nigeria made history in April 2006 by becoming the first African Country to completely pay off its debt (estimated $30 billion) owed to the Paris Club.

Key sectors

Nigeria is the 12th largest producer of petroleum in the world and the 8th largest exporter, and has the 10th largest proven reserves. (The country joined OPEC in 1971). Petroleum plays a large role in the Nigerian economy, accounting for 40% of GDP and 80% of Government earnings. However, agitation for better resource control in the Niger Delta, its main oil producing region, has led to disruptions in oil production and currently prevents the country from exporting at 100% capacity.

Nigeria has one of the fastest growing telecommunications markets in the world, major emerging market operators (like MTN, Etisalat, Zain and Globacom) basing their largest and most profitable centres in the country. The government has recently begun expanding this infrastructure to space based communications. Nigeria has a space satellite which is monitored at the Nigerian National Space Research and Development Agency Headquarters in Abuja.

The country has a highly developed financial services sector, with a mix of local and international banks, asset management companies, brokerage houses, insurance companies and brokers, private equity funds and investment banks.

Nigeria also has a wide array of underexploited mineral resources which include natural gas, coal, bauxite, tantalite, gold, tin, iron ore, limestone, niobium, lead and zinc. Despite huge deposits of these natural resources, the mining industry in Nigeria is still in it infancy.

Agriculture used to be the principal foreign exchange earner of Nigeria. At one time, Nigeria was the world’s largest exporter of groundnuts, cocoa, and palm oil and a significant producer of coconuts, citrus fruits, maize, pearl millet, cassava, yams and sugar cane. About 60% of Nigerians work in the agricultural sector, and Nigeria has vast areas of underutilized arable land.

It also has a manufacturing industry which includes leather and textiles (centred Kano, Abeokuta, Onitsha, and Lagos), car manufacturing (for the French car manufacturer Peugeot as well as for the English truck manufacturer Bedford, now a subsidiary of General Motors), t-shirts, plastics and processed food.

The country has recently made considerable amount of revenue from home made Nigerian Movies which are sold locally and Internationally. These movies are popular in other African countries and some parts of Europe.

Demographics

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa but exactly how populous is a subject of speculation. The United Nations estimates that the population in 2004 was at 131,530,000, with the population distributed as 51.7% rural and 48.3% urban, and with a population density of 139 people per square kilometer. National census results in the past few decades have been disputed. The results of the most recent census were released in December 2006. The census gave a population of 140,003,542. The only breakdown available was by gender:
Population
Male 71,709,859
Female 68,293,083
Total 140,003,542

According to the United Nations, Nigeria has been undergoing explosive population growth and one of the highest growth and fertility rates in the world. By their projections, Nigeria will be one of the countries in the world that will account for most of the world’s total population increase by 2050. According to current data, one out of every four Africans is Nigerian. Presently, Nigeria is the eighth most populous country in the world, and even conservative estimates conclude that more than 20% of the world’s black population lives in Nigeria. 2006 estimates claim 42.3% of the population is between 0-14 years of age, while 54.6% is between 15-65; the birth rate is significantly higher than the death rate, at 40.4 and 16.9 per 1000 people respectively.

Health, health care, and general living conditions in Nigeria are poor. Life expectancy is 47 years (average male/female) and just over half the population has access to potable water and appropriate sanitation; the percentage is of children under five has gone up rather than down between 1990 and 2003 and infant mortality is 97.1 deaths per 1000 live births. HIV/AIDS rate in Nigeria is much lower compared to the other African nations such as Kenya or South Africa whose prevalence (percentage) rates are in the double digits. Nigeria, like many developing countries, also suffers from a polio crisis as well as periodic outbreaks of cholera, malaria, and sleeping sickness. As of 2004, there has been a vaccination drive, spearheaded by the W.H.O., to combat polio and malaria that has been met with controversy in some regions.

Education is also in a state of neglect. After the 1970s oil boom, tertiary education was improved so that it would reach every sub region of Nigeria. Education is provided free by the government, but the attendance rate for secondary education is only 29% (32% for males, 27% for females). The education system has been described as “dysfunctional” largely due to decaying institutional infrastructure. 68% of the population is literate, and the rate for men (75.7%) is higher than that for women (60.6%).

Nigeria’s largest city is Lagos. Lagos has grown from 300,000 in 1950[57] to an estimated 15 million today, and the Nigerian government estimates that city will have expanded to 25 million residents by 2015.

Ethno-linguistic groups

Nigeria has more than 250 ethnic groups, with varying languages and customs, creating a country of rich ethnic diversity. The largest ethnic groups are the Fulani/Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, accounting for 68% of population, while the Edo, Ijaw, Kanuri, Ibibio, Ebira Nupe and Tiv comprise 27%; other minorities make up the remaining 7 percent.] The middle belt of Nigeria is known for its diversity of ethnic groups, including the Pyem, Goemai, and Kofyar.

There are small minorities of British, Americans, East Indians, Chinese (est. 50,000),[60] white Zimbabweans Japanese, Syrian, Lebanese and refugees and immigrants from other West African or East African nations. These minorities mostly reside in major cities such as Lagos and Abuja, or in the Niger Delta as employees for the major oil companies. A number of Cubans settled Nigeria as political refugees following the Cuban Revolution.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, a number of ex-slaves of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian descent and emigrants from Sierra Leone established communities in Lagos, Ibadan and other regions of Nigeria. Many ex-slaves came to Nigeria following the emancipation of slaves in Latin America. Many of the immigrants, sometimes called Saros (immigrants from Sierra Leone) and Amaro (ex-slaves from Brazil) later became prominent merchants and missionaries in Lagos and Abeokuta.

Ethnic groups in Nigeria

Annang · Aulliminden · Berom · Bini · Buduma · Defaka · Djerma · Ebira · Efik · Eket · Ekoi · Eleme · Esan · Etsakor · Fon · Fula · Gwari · Hausa · Ibibio · Idoma · Igala · Igbo · Ijaw · Isoko · Itsekiri · Jukun · Kanuri · Kilba · Kirdi · Kofyar · Mumuye · Nupe · Ogoni · Tarok · Tiv · Urhobo · Yoruba

Language

The number of languages currently estimated and catalogued in Nigeria is 521. This number includes 510 living languages, two second languages without native speakers and nine extinct languages. In some areas of Nigeria, ethnic groups speak more than one language. The official language of Nigeria, English, was chosen to facilitate the cultural and linguistic unity of the country. The choice of English as the official language was partially related to the fact that a part of the Nigerian population spoke English as a result of British colonization that ended in 1960.

The major languages spoken in Nigeria represent three major families of African languages – the majority are Niger-Congo languages, such as Yoruba, Igbo, the Hausa language is Afro-Asiatic; and Kanuri, spoken in the northeast, primarily Borno State, is a member of the Nilo-Saharan family. Even though most ethnic groups prefer to communicate in their own languages, English, being the official language, is widely used for education, business transactions and for official purposes. English as a first language, however, remains an exclusive preserve of a small minority of the country’s urban elite, and it is not spoken at all in some rural areas. With the majority of Nigeria’s populace in the rural areas, the major languages of communication in the country remain indigenous languages. Some of the largest of these, notably Yoruba and Ibo, have derived standardized languages from a number of different dialects and are widely spoken by those ethnic groups. Nigerian Pidgin English, often known simply as ‘Pidgin’ or ‘Broken’ (Broken English), is also a popular lingua franca, though with varying regional influences on dialect and slang. The pidgin English or Nigerian English is widely spoken within the Niger Delta Regions, predominately in Warri, Sapele, Port Harcourt, Agenebode, and Benin City.

Literature
See also: Nigerian literature

Nigeria has a rich literary history, and Nigerians have authored many influential works of post-colonial literature in the English language. Nigeria’s best-known writers are Wole Soyinka, the first African Nobel Laureate in Literature, and Chinua Achebe, best known for the novel, Things Fall Apart and his controversial critique of Joseph Conrad. Other Nigerian writers and poets who are well known internationally include John Pepper Clark, Ben Okri, Buchi Emecheta, Helon Habila, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Ken Saro Wiwa, who was executed in 1995 by the military regime.

Nigeria has the second largest newspaper market in Africa (after Egypt) with an estimated circulation of several million copies daily in 2003.

Music and film
Femi Kuti, son of Fela Kuti, is one of the major performers of modern Afrobeat music
See also: Music of Nigeria and Cinema of Nigeria

Nigeria (naija) has been called “the heart of African music” because of its role in the development of West African highlife and palm-wine music, which fuses native rhythms with techniques imported from the Congo, Brazil, Cuba and elsewhere.

Nigerian music includes many kinds of folk and popular music, some of which are known worldwide. Styles of folk music are related to the multitudes of ethnic groups in the country, each with their own techniques, instruments and songs. As a result, there are many different types of music that come from Nigeria.

Many late 20th century musicians such as Fela Kuti have famously fused cultural elements of various indigenous music with American Jazz and Soul to form Afrobeat music.[67] JuJu music which is percussion music fused with traditional music from the Yoruba nation and made famous by King Sunny Adé, is also from Nigeria. There is also fuji music, a Yoruba percussion style, created and popularized by the one and only Mr. Fuji, Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister.

There is a budding hip hop movement in Nigeria. Kennis Music, the self proclaimed “No 1 Record Label in Africa” and one of Nigeria’s biggest record labels, has a roster almost entirely dominated by hip hop artists.

Some famous musicians that come from Nigeria are Fela Kuti, Adewale Ayuba, Ezebuiro Obinna, Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, King Sunny Adé, Ebenezer Obey, Femi Kuti, Lagbaja, Dr. Alban, Sade Adu, Wasiu Alabi, Bola Abimbola and Tuface Idibia.

In November 2008, Nigeria’s music scene (and that of Africa) received international attention when MTV hosted the continent’s first African music awards show in Abuja.

The Nigerian film industry is known as Nollywood. Many of the film studios are based in Lagos and Abuja and the industry is now a very lucrative income for these cities.

Religion
Osun temple.
Main article: Religion in Nigeria

Nigeria is home to a variety of religions which tend to vary regionally. This situation accentuates regional and ethnic distinctions and has often been seen as a source of sectarian conflict amongst the population.[69] The main religions are Islam (see Islam in Nigeria), Christianity (see Christianity in Nigeria), and indigenous religions, most notably Yoruba Orisha or Orisa veneration and Ifá and Igbo Odinani. Christianity is concentrated in the south while Islam dominates in the north; central regions tend to be religiously divided.

The majority of Nigerian Muslims are Sunni, but a significant Shia minority exists (see Shia in Nigeria). Some northern states have incorporated Sharia law into their previously secular legal systems, which has brought about some controversy. Kano State has sought to incorporate Sharia law into its constitution.

Christian Nigerians are about evenly split between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Leading Protestant churches are the Church of Nigeria, of the Anglican communion, and the Nigerian Baptist Convention. The Yoruba area contains a large Anglican population, while Igboland is predominantly Catholic.

Across Yorubaland (western Nigeria, Benin, Togo), many people are adherents to Yorubo/Irunmole spirituality with its philosophy of divine destiny that all can become Orisha (ori, spiritual head; sha, is chosen: to be one with Olodumare (oni odu, the God source of all energy; ma re, enlighthens / triumphs).

Other minority religious and spiritual groups in Nigeria include Hinduism, Judaism, The Bahá’í Faith, and Chrislam (a syncretic faith melding elements of Christianity and Islam). Further, Nigeria has become an African hub for the Grail Movement, the Rosicrucian order (AMORC), and the Hare Krishnas.

Cuisine

Nigerian cuisine, like West African cuisine in general, is known for its richness and variety. Many different spices, herbs and flavourings are used in conjunction with palm oil or groundnut oil to create deeply-flavoured sauces and soups often made very hot with chilli peppers. Nigerian feasts are colourful and lavish, while aromatic market and roadside snacks cooked on barbecues or fried in oil are plentiful and varied.

Sport
Nigerian football fans at a football match between the Ghanaian and Nigerian football team.
Main article: Football in Nigeria

Like many nations, football is Nigeria’s national sport. There is also a local Premier League of football. Nigeria’s national football team, known as the Super Eagles, has made the World Cup on three occasions 1994, 1998, and 2002, won the African Cup of Nations in 1980 and 1994, and also hosted the Junior World Cup. They won the gold medal for football in the 1996 Summer Olympics (in which they beat Argentina) and have reached the finals of the U-20 World Championship in 2005. In September 2007, Nigeria won the U-17 World cup for the third time, becoming the first African nation to have achieved that feat and the second nation (after Brazil) to do so. Nigeria had previously won the very first U-17 tournament in 1985 (China ’85), 1993 (Japan ’93) and in 2007 (Korea ’07).

The nation’s cadet team to Japan ’93 produced some of the world’s finest players notably Nwankwo Kanu, a two-time African Footballer of the year who won the European Champions League with Ajax Amsterdam and later played with Inter Milan (Italy), Arsenal FC (London, UK), West Bromwich Albion (UK) and Portsmouth F.C. (UK). Other players that graduated from the Junior teams are Celestine Babayaro (of Newcastle United, UK), Wilson Oruma and Taye Taiwo (of Marseille, France) .

According to the official September 2007 FIFA World Rankings, Nigeria was the top-ranked football nation in Africa and the 19th highest in the world. Nigeria is also involved in other sports such as basketball, cricket and track and field. Boxing is also an important sport in Nigeria; Dick Tiger and Samuel Peter are both former World Champions.

Societal issues

Despite its vast government revenue from the mining of petroleum, Nigeria is faced by a number of societal issues due primarily to a history of inefficiency in its governance.

Human rights in Nigeria

Nigeria’s human rights record remains poor and government officials at all levels continue to commit serious abuses.

According to the U.S. Department of State, the most significant human rights problems are: extrajudicial killings and use of excessive force by security forces; impunity for abuses by security forces; arbitrary arrests; prolonged pretrial detention; judicial corruption and executive influence on the judiciary; rape, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners, detainees and suspects; harsh and life‑threatening prison and detention center conditions; human trafficking for the purpose of prostitution and forced labor; societal violence and vigilante killings; child labor, child abuse and child sexual exploitation; female genital mutilation (FGM); domestic violence; discrimination based on sex, ethnicity, region and religion; restrictions on freedom of assembly, movement, press, speech and religion; infringement of privacy rights; and the abridgement of the right of citizens to change the government.

Under the Shari’a penal code that applies to Muslims in twelve northern states, offenses such as alcohol consumption, homosexuality, infidelity and theft carry harsh sentences, including amputation, lashing, stoning and long prison terms.

Strife and sectarian violence
Due to its multitude of diverse, sometimes competing ethno-linguistic groups, Nigeria prior to independence has been faced with sectarian tensions and violence. This is particularly a major issue in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, where both state and civilian forces employ varying methods of coercion in attempts gain control over regional petroleum resources. Some of the ethnic groups like the Ogoni, have experienced severe environmental degradation due to petroleum extraction.

Since the end of the civil war in 1970, some ethnic violence has persisted. There has subsequently been a period of relative harmony since the Federal Government introduced tough new measures against religious violence in all affected parts of the country.

In 2002, organizers of the Miss World Pageant were forced to move the pageant from the Nigerian capital, Abuja, to London in the wake of violent protests in the Northern part of the country that left more than 100 people dead and over 500 injured. The rioting erupted after Muslims in the country reacted in anger to comments made by a newspaper reporter. Rioters in Kaduna killed an estimated 105 men, women, and children with a further 521 injured taken to hospital.

Health care in Nigeria

Nigeria has been reorganizing its health system since the Bamako Initiative of 1987 formally promoted community-based methods of increasing accessibility of drugs and health care services to the population, in part by implementing user fees. The new strategy dramatically increased accessibility through community-based healthcare reform, resulting in more efficient and equitable provision of services. A comprehensive approach strategy was extended to all areas of health care, with subsequent improvement in the health care indicators and improvement in health care efficiency and cost.

The Nigerian health care system is continuously faced with a shortage of doctors known as ‘brain drain’ due to the fact that many highly skilled Nigerian doctors emigrate to North America and Europe. In 1995, It was estimated that 21,000 Nigerian doctors were practicing in the United States alone, which about the same as the number of doctors working in the Nigerian public service. Retaining these expensively-trained professionals has been identified as one of the goals of the government.

Education
Nigeria provides free, government-supported education, but attendance is not compulsory at any level, and certain groups, such as nomads and the handicapped, are under-served. The education system consists of six years of primary school, three years of junior secondary school, three years of senior secondary school, and four years of university education leading to a bachelor’s degree. The rate of secondary school attendance is 32 percent for males and 27 percent for females. In 2004 the Nigerian National Planning Commission described the country’s education system as “disfunctional.” Reasons for this characterization included decaying institutions and ill-prepared graduates.

Happiness survey

In 2003, Nigerians were reported to be the happiest people in a scientific survey carried out in 65 nations in 1999-2001. The research was reported by one of the world’s top science magazines, New Scientist, and was picked up by a number of news outlets. See Nigeria tops happiness survey. The report considered that the country’s family life and culture were more important than its problems and material wealth in determining happiness.

Crime
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A type of advance fee fraud known as “419” (named after Section 419 of the Nigerian Penal Code) and the “Nigerian scam” is a form of confidence trick practiced by individuals and criminal syndicates (organized crime) that is commonly associated with Nigeria, though it is now used in other places. The confidence man persuades the target to advance relatively small sums of money (the advance fee) in the hope of realizing a much larger gain (usually touted as millions). In 2003, the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (or EFCC) was created to combat this and other forms of organized financial crime. It has succeeded in bringing several “419” crime bosses to justice and in some cases has been able to return the stolen money to victims.

Media Representation

Documentary

* Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria’s Oil Dictatorship, an audio documentary produced by Amy Goodman first aired in 1998 on Democracy Now!
* Sweet Crude, a documentary film produced and directed by Sandy Cioffi about Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta
* Poison Fire, a documentary exposing oil and gas abuses in Nigeria, featuring Friends of the Earth Nigeria volunteers, which premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam
* Nollywood Babylon, a 2008 documentary by Montrealers Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal about the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood. It premiered at the Festival de nouveau cinéma de Montréal 2008.

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