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Facts on Nigeria

Agricultural Activity in Nigeria

A Large and Divided Population. With a
population of over 150 million people,
Nigeria is the most populous country
in Africa. It is home to one-sixth of the
continent’s population, and to half of
the people in ECOWAS. It is also one of
the most urbanised countries in Africa,
with at least twenty-four cities of over
100,000 residents.
Nigeria is highly diverse, with a large
number of ethnic, cultural, linguistic and
religious groups. There are more than
250 ethnic groups in the country. The
northern part of the country is inhabited
mainly by people of the Hausa group,
the majority of whom are Muslims. The
Yoruba group is the dominant group in
the south, more than half of whom are
Christians and one-quarter Muslims. The
south-eastern part of the country is dominated
by the Igbo, mostly Christians. The
country’s problems in building unity stem
in part from this vast diversity.
Nigeria faces chronic inter-ethnic tensions
that sometimes degenerate into
outbreaks of violence. In November 2008,
July 2009 and more recently in January
2010, the dissension between Christians
and Muslims led to clashes in the city of
Jos (Plateau state) in the centre of the
country. One of the major political challenges
is to maintain a balance between
northern Nigeria where the population is
primarily Muslim (Sharia law is officially
in effect in twelve states) and the economy
is declining, and the predominantly
Christian South that provides most of
the country’s resources.
The regimes that have successively
governed the country since its independence
in 1960 have sought to break
the hold that the three major ethnic
groups exercise in their respective regions
(North, South-West, South-East)
that made up the original federal state.
To this end they have created more states
in the federation, the number of which
grew to twelve, then twenty-one, and
then finally thirty-six states in 1996.
The cohesion of the federation, which
is particularly fragile, was jeopardised as
early as 1967 with the war of secession
in Biafra. Regional rivalries continue to
this day. The subdivision into twenty-one
and then thirty-six states has lowered the
risk of ethnic conflict, however.

A Powerful Economy, Largely Dominated
by Oil.
Nigeria is the second largest
economic power on the continent, after
South Africa. Oil accounts for roughly
80% of its fiscal revenue and 97% of the
country’s exports. Nigeria is the world’s
eighth-largest oil exporter, and has been
a member of the Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC) since
1970. Paradoxically, the country often
experiences fuel shortages and many
refineries are running under capacity
or not running at all. Insecurity in the
Niger Delta zone and large-scale theft
of oil cause a production shortfall that
today reaches 1.8 million barrels a day,
compared to full production capacity of
3 million barrels a day. Nigeria has even
lost its position as top sub-Saharan oil
producer to Angola. Oil and gas fields are
being developed offshore, where major
reserves are located and less exposed
to insecurity.
Agriculture [1] employs over 70% of the
active population and is the major contributor
to GDP (36.5% in 2009), followed
by oil and gas (32.3%). Other main contributing
sectors are wholesale and retail
trade (15.9%) and services (8.2%).
Manufacturing’s meagre contribution
to GDP, only 2.4%, reflects the low level
of industrialization in Nigeria’s economy.
Industrial activity is concentrated in Lagos
and, to a lesser extent, in the other
big cities (Kano, Kaduna, Ibadan and
Port Harcourt). Industrial production
comprises essentially textiles, beverages,
cigarettes, detergents and cement.
The informal sector is highly developed
in Nigeria.
At present, the country’s economic
structure is insufficiently diversified. It is
heavily dependent on a capital-intensive
petroleum industry, whereas most of the
population is employed in agriculture.
The country would like to diversify its
sources of revenue and free itself from
its dependence on oil in order to bring
in more money and protect its economy
from fluctuations in oil prices. To achieve
this, the government drafted the “2020
Vision” plan for Nigeria that aims to diversify
the economy. Given the pace of
roll-out, it seems doubtful that this programme
will successfully place Nigeria
among the top twenty economies in the
world by 2020.

An Unstable Political Situation. Nigeria’s
political history has been agitated since
the country attained independence on 1
October 1960. Between 1967 and 1970,
the Igbos of south-eastern Nigeria sought
to secede and founded the Republic of
Biafra. Biafra was reintegrated into Nigeria
after a brutal war and unprecedented
famine that claimed nearly one
million lives.
Nigeria saw a succession of military
dictatorships and coups over a period of
more than twenty-eight years. General
Babangida took power in 1985. When he
resigned in 1993, General Abacha instituted
an authoritarian regime. In 1995,
the international community condemned
Abacha for the murder of several political
opponents, and Nigeria was excluded
from the Commonwealth. In 1998,
General Abubakar succeeded Abacha
and pledged to transfer power to a civilian
government.
Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military
leader, was elected President of the Republic
in 1999, and then re-elected in
2003. Barred from standing for a third
term in office by the Nigerian constitution,
Obasanjo nonetheless put all his
weight into the nomination and election
of the presidential “ticket” of his party,
the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in
April 2007. The candidates on the ticket
were Umaru Yar’adua, governor of
the state of Katsina, in the North, and
Goodluck Jonathan, governor of Bayelsa
in the South. In addition to chaotic organization,
this election was marred by
widescale fraud and serious violence. The
prolonged absence of Yar’adua, from his
hospitalization in November 2009 until
his death on 6 May 2010, compounded
the political instability. Goodluck Jonathan
was sworn in as acting president on
9 February 2010. Belying his reputation
as a discreet man, he immediately took a
series of strong measures. The next round
of presidential, regional and local elections
will take place in 2011.

Poverty, Inequality and Corruption
Against a Backdrop of Oil Rents.
Nigeria
has relatively low human development
indices despite abundant natural
resources. In 2007, half the population
was living below the poverty line, set at
$1.25 per day. Furthermore Nigeria has
fallen behind schedule for Millennium
Development Goal (MDG) attainment,
including the goal of halving poverty by
2015. The Global Hunger Index (GHI),
composed of three indicators (access
to sufficient quantities of food, infantile
nutrition and the infantile mortality
rate), ranks Nigeria among the
countries with the most serious food
security problems.
Nigeria is one of the few countries in
the world with significant oil resources
to have a budget deficit. It is also sadly
well-known for record levels of corruption,
which has greatly increased since the
oil boom of the 1970s. In 2010, Transparency
International ranked Nigeria as the
twelfth the most corrupt country in the
world. It is estimated that over 300 billion
dollars worth of Nigerian oil have simply
disappeared. Abacha and his family are
suspected of having siphoned off more
than $4 billion in public funds between
1993 and 1998. Facilitated by corruption
and by the general opacity of the world
financial system, the flows of funds
drained by illicit financial practices are
a major handicap for the country’s development.
Infrastructures, and particularly the
electricity supply system, are generally
in poor condition. Although rich in hydrocarbon
resources, the country is
facing an energy emergency. Electricity
production capacity is less than 3,000
MW (in comparison, South Africa has a
production capacity of 36,000 MW for a
population of 48 million), and the natural
gas flows associated with oil production
are not optimized.
Poor transport infrastructures are one
of the main hindrances to development.
The state of the roads and the quality of
port management and airport maintenance
must all imperatively improve.

The Niger Delta Conflict : A Human, Environmental
and Economic Tragedy.
The
conflict in the Niger Delta region poses
a serious political and economic problem
for Nigeria. Activists denounce the
environmental pollution caused by oil
companies and the widespread poverty
among the local population. The oil companies’
practices in the region, and the
complicity of the Nigerian government,
have been severely criticised. The tension
between local residents and the forces of
law and order has engendered a number
of assassinations and massacres. In the
1990s, the Movement for the Survival of
the Ogoni People (MOSOP) was created
to fight Royal Dutch Shell’s activities using
non-violent means. After five of its
leaders were executed (including Ken
Saro-Wiwa, on 10 November 1995), the
movement gradually died out. In the following
years, a more violent group—the
Movement for the Emancipation of the
Niger Delta (MEND)—came into being
and is still active.
Common-law criminals also take advantage
of the situation to kidnap foreign
workers for ransom. This conflict
has cut the country’s oil production by
one-third, draining public revenues. Daily
production has fallen, from 2.5 million
barrels in 2006 to 1.7 million in mid-
May of 2009.
The prospect of a lasting solution appeared
on the horizon in 2009, when the
government and the armed movements
came to an agreement that could end
the conflict. The main group, MEND,
subsequently declared a cease-fire. Thousands
of militants laid down their arms
and joined a reintegration programme.
However, as of this writing, peace has not
yet returned to the Niger Delta. Ensuring
that the funds allocated to the region are
used to the benefit of those who are entitled
to them but do not fuel corruption
will be a major challenge.

A Major Regional Influence. In the field
of foreign policy, Nigeria has established
itself has a leading diplomatic
player in West Africa and within the
African Union. Nigeria helps promote
ECOWAS, which has its headquarters
in Abuja. In 2007, Nigeria used all its
influence within this organization to
make sure that it refused to sign the
Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)
with the European Union (EU) according
to the planned timetable. ECOWAS is a
fundamental instrument for Nigeria’s
influence in Africa and in its relationship
with the EU.
Nigeria has also taken a great many initiatives
to resolve conflicts. It was deeply
involved in the end of the Liberian crisis,
through its participation in the Economic
Community of West African States Monitoring
Group (ECOMOG). It has conducted
mediation and facilitation sessions in Sudan,
the Democratic Republic of Congo
and Zimbabwe in recent years. Nigeria
has joined many peace-keeping operations,
including the UN Mission in Liberia
(UNMIL) and the African Union Mission
in Sudan (AMIS).
In addition, the country has also broadened
its horizons, acting to promote
the New Partnership for Africa’s Development
(NEPAD).
Finally, Nigeria has a significant impact
on the surrounding region by virtue of its
population size and large diaspora, in addition
to the financial power of its banks
and the reach of Nigeria’s film and television
production (Nigeria is the world’s
third-largest film producer).


This article is based on several sources of documentation, in
particular :
Atlas du Nigeria, Atlas de l’Afrique, Éditions J.A., 2003, 157 p.
– African Economic Outlook : Nigeria
http://www.africaneconomicoutlook.org/en/countries/west-africa/nigeria/
– French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs website
http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/pays-zones-geo_833/nigeria_353/
presentation-du-nigeria_1008/index.html

– Perspective Monde, Sherbrooke University
http://perspective.usherbrooke.ca/bilan/servlet/BMPays?codePays=NGA
– U.S. Department of State http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2836.htm

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