Jan 8, 2011

Basic Nigeria

Nigeria is a former colony of Britain found along the western coast of Africa between Benin Republic to the west, Cameroun to the east and Niger to the north.

Recent head counts put the current population of Nigeria at about 150 million, making it the largest black nation not just in Africa but the planet at large. This figure represents a spectrum of distinct ethnic groups totaling over 250. Thus Nigeria is also one of the most diverse nations on the planet.

The tribes of Nigeria are made up of the big three that include the Hausa-Fulanis who are largely Muslims to the north. In the southeast and southwest are the Ibos and Yorubas respectively. Scattered within and in between these three tribes are the minorities. Some of these minorities include the Ibibios, Ijaws, Ikweres, Benis, Itshekiris, Urhobos all of which are found in the south. In the central region, one finds the Tivs, Idomas, Tarok, Beroms, Ngas, Gwaris and many more. Up north are minority tribes such as the Kanuris, the Fulfuldes, the Tangales, etc.

Prior to the discovery of oil in the fifties, cash crops such as cotton, groundnuts, rubber, palm oil, rubber and timber sustained the economy of Nigeria. Soon after the discovery of oil however, attention shifted to the comparatively huge oil revenues that come more readily. Besides oil, Nigeria has a huge array of solid mineral deposits most of which are lying undeveloped in different parts of the country.

Despite these human and material resources with which the nation is blessed however, Nigeria has remained a struggling nation since independence in 1960, with millions of ordinary people living below the poverty line. The ethnic diversity rather than becoming a solution to the nation’s development challenges have become the nation’s greatest burden.

The parliamentary democracy that started at independence lasted for only six years when it ended abruptly as a result of a military coup. In 1979 Nigeria resorted to the presidential system of government that also lasted for just five years. In between these periods, the nation remained under successive military administrations. The new democracy that came with a lot of promises in 1999 has however been frustrated by series of conflicts that border on religious intolerance between Christian minorities and their Muslim counterparts in the north. In the Niger Delta in the south, militants demanding a fair share of oil revenue have been fighting the authorities since 2006. These challenges have remained the nation’s greatest obstacles to the realization of its full potentials.

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