Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nigeria (Introduction)

Nigeria is one of the largest (923,768 km2) and geographically, socially and culturally most diversified African countries. It is the most populous country of Africa (the population estimated at 110 million in 1990), and potentially one of the richest. Richly endowed with human and natural resources, benefiting of a large internal market, Nigeria is, however, highly dependant on external economic sector, particularly oil revenues (93 per cent of exports in 1989). The domestic industry is import dependant. More then 60 per cent of population is employed in agriculture, which provides the bulk of Nigeria's food and raw materials supply and non-oil exports.

Rich resources, large internal market and human potentials did not prevent Nigeria from being a low income country with GDP per capita declining from about 1,000 US dollars in 1980 to about 250 dollars in 1990. The world oil crisis, poor agricultural development, and internal civil war are usually cited as the main reasons for such an economic decline.

Nigeria became independent in 1960. The post-independence history of the country has been dominated by ethnic and regional antagonisms, and the interplay between military and civilian rule. The military take-over of government in 1966, the civil war from 1967-1979, and the rule of military government from 1970 to 1979 alternated with the attempts to introduce civilian rule and democracy. The civilian rule was introduced in the period 1979-1983, when it was interrupted by military coup. The preparations to introduce the civilian rule again, promised to be set-up in October 1992, have so far included the formation of political parties to contest elections, and the local and state government elections in 1991.

Nigeria is in the process of socio-economic restructuring and adjustment. The over-all situation of the majority of people remains of utmost concern: the population growth is estimated at 3,2 per cent, the life expectancy stands at 51 years, and the male/female adult literacy is limited to 54/31 per cent. According to the Human Development Index, Nigeria ranks as 129th out of 160 countries. Re-instating civilian rule through participatory politics and general elections, scheduled for August 1992, is regarded to be of paramount importance for the future of the nation.

The federal administrative structure is reflected in establishment and functioning of 21 federal states. Upon the independence (1960) Nigeria had three states; it was split into 12 states in 1967, and in 19 states in 1975. The Nigerian federalism is based on the strong centralized administration in the federal state and army, and the parallel fragmentation of the country in small states which may symbolize the emancipation of Nigerian ethnic groups.

The ethnic diversity of Nigerian society is reflected in the fact that the country has over 250 identified ethnic groups. Three very large ethno-linguistic entities dominate: the Yoruba, the Ibo and the Hausa-Fulani in the North. The Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, Ibo, Kanuri, Tiv, Edo, Nupe, Ibibio and Ijaw groups account for almost 80 per cent of the population. The Muslims comprise more then 50 per cent of the population, Christians account for about 35 per cent, while the balance of the population are animists.

No comments: