Nigeria Country Profile

One of the most notable emerging countries is Nigeria. Officially known as the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Nigeria is a Federal presidential republic located in Western Africa. Nigeria is bordered by countries such as Benin and Cameroon, has an area of approximately 900,000 square kilometers and a population of around 186 million, making it the most populated country in Africa. Nigeria plays a significant role in African economies due to the fact that it is rich in natural resources such as oil and various minerals. Due to its resource wealth, Nigeria has a GDP of around $400 billion, making it the largest economy in Africa and the 11th largest economy in the world. Despite its strong economic potential and relative stability in a region characterized by rampant instability, Nigeria faces several pressing issues that threaten its emergence as a major player in world affairs.

Nigeria gained its independence from Great Britain in 1960 after nearly 50 years of colonial rule.

Nigeria gained its independence from Great Britain in 1960 after nearly 50 years of colonial rule.

Niergai has historically been dominated by foreign imperialist powers over the past few centuries, the most notable of which being Great Britain. Britain began to colonize Nigeria in the early 19th Century and officially made Nigeria one of their protectorates in 1914. The British set up administrative and legal structures whilst practicing indirect rule through traditional tribal groups. A series of constitutions after World War II granted Nigeria a greater level of autonomy, and the country ultimately gained independence on October 1, 1960. After gaining independence in 1960, Nigerian politics were marked by rampant instability and authoritarianism until the country transitioned to democracy in the late 1990s. The government of Nigeria continues to face the daunting task of institutionalizing democracy and reforming a petroleum-based economy, whose revenues have been squandered through corruption and mismanagement. In addition, Nigeria continues to experience longstanding ethnic and religious tensions. Although both the 2003 and 2007 presidential elections were marred by significant irregularities and violence, Nigeria is currently experiencing its longest period of civilian rule since independence. The general elections of April 2007 marked the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in the country’s history and the elections of 2011 were generally regarded as credible.

Muhammadu Buhari is the current President of Nigeria and was first elected in 2015.

Muhammadu Buhari is the current President of Nigeria and was first elected in 2015.

The current constitution of Nigeria was adopted on May 5, 1999, and stipulates that Nigeria is a federal republic modeled after the United States with executive power exercised by the President. The president presides as both head of state and head of the federal government and is elected by popular vote to a maximum of two 4-year terms. The current President of Nigeria is Muhammadu Buhari, a member of the All Progressives Congress political party. Buhari was first elected in March of 2015 and received 53% of the vote in the Presidential election.

The National Assembly is the main legislative body of Nigeria

The National Assembly is the main legislative body of Nigeria

The National Assembly is the main legislative body of Nigeria and has two chambers; the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives is presided over by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and has 360 members who are elected for four-year terms in single-seat constituencies. The Senate is presided over by the President of the Senate. 108 members are elected for four-year terms in 36 three-seat constituencies, which correspond to the country’s 36 states. One member is selected in the single-seat constituency of the federal capital. The current House Speaker of Nigeria is Yakubu Dogara and the current Senate President is Bukola Saraki.Both men have served in their respective roles since 2015 and are members of the All Progressives Congress. The judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the Court of Appeals, the High Courts, and other trial courts such as the Magistrates, Customary, and Shari’a courts. The National Judicial Council serves as an independent executive body, insulating the judiciary from the executive arm of government.The Supreme Court of Nigeriais presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and thirteen associate justices, who are appointed by the President of Nigeria on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council. All members of the Supreme Court are subject to confirmation by the Senate.

Nigeria is a relatively diverse country in terms of demographics. Christianity is the largest religion in Nigeria and makes up 56% of the total population. Islam is the second largest religion in Nigeria, with 41% of the population identifying as Muslim. A majority of Nigerian Muslims (90%) identify as Sunni, whereas 10% identify as Shi’a. There are an estimated 250 ethnic groups currently residing in Nigeria that include the Hausa and the Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, Tiv 2.5%. Additionally, English is the official language of Nigeria, though Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo (Ibo), Fulani, and ~500 indigenous languages are spoken as well. Nigeria has a 59% literacy rate (69% for men, 49% for women) and a majority of residents attend school for a period of 8-9 years.

The economy of Nigeria is primarily service based (59.5%) with agriculture and industry making up 21.1% and 19.4% of the countries overall economic output respectively. Some of Nigeria’s main industries include oil production, coal, tin, and columbite mining, rubber and lumber production, textile production, footwear, chemicals, fertilizer, printing, ceramics, and steel. The unemployment rate in Nigeria is estimated to be between 19-23% as of 2016 and 70% of the population lives below the poverty line. Additionally, Nigeria has a Human Development Index score of 0.53 and a GINI Coefficient of 48.8.

Nigeria has historically maintained close ties with countries such as the US.

Nigeria has historically maintained close ties with countries such as the US.

Nigeria is an active member of international organizations such as the United Nations, African Union, and the Non-Aligned Movement among others. Moreover, Nigeria maintains diplomatic relations with a majority of countries and has recently sought to increase its positive role in the international community and become the leading voice for African unity. Nigeria has maintained favorable ties with major international players such as the US, China, Great Britain, Israel, and many others. Most notably, the relationship between Nigeria and Iran has grown in recent years due to economic factors and shared religious backgrounds between residents in both countries.

Violent extremist organizations such as Boko Haram are a major threat to Nigeria's long-term stability.

Violent extremist organizations such as Boko Haram are a major threat to Nigeria’s long-term stability.

Despite the fact that it has much potential as a country, there are a number of issues that continue to impact Nigeria and prevent its emergence as a major world power. Arguably the main factor is the continued insurgency lead by groups such as Boko Haram, a Wahhabi extremist group based in Northern Nigeria. Boko Haram has primarily targeted Shi’a Muslims and Christians and has fanned the flames of tension between the diverse religious groups within the country. Another issue facing Nigeria has continued political instability and a lack of formal governmental institutions. The lack of strong institutions prevents the Nigerian government from effectively meeting the needs of its people and thus directly contributes to the emergence of extremist groups. A possible way for Nigeria to improve its overall stability and reduce the persistent violent extremism that plagues the country would be to continue to develop close ties with the international community and focus on economic and political reform efforts. By following these steps, Nigeria will be able to at last gain a major role on the world stage and become a model for stability in Africa.

the author

Matt is a graduate of Monmouth University. Matt has been studying and analyzing politics at all levels since the 2004 Presidential Election. He writes about political trends and demographics, the role of the media in politics, comparative politics, political theory, and the domestic and international political economy. Matt is also interested in history, philosophy, comparative religion, and record collecting.

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