Official Name: Federal Republic of Nigeria
Capital City: Abuja
Recognised regional languages: Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Edo
Official Currency: Nigerian naira (NGN)
Religions: 50% muslim; 40% christian; others
Land Area: 923,768 sq km
Landforms: 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.
Land Divisions: 774 Local Government Areas
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 AD 999. Hausa kingdoms and the Kanem-Bornu Empire prospered as trade posts between North and West
The Yoruba people date their presence in the area of modern republics of Nigeria, Benin and Togo to about 8500 BC. The
kingdoms of Ife 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. Ife
produced the terra cotta and bronze heads, the Oyo 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 the Southeastern part of Nigeria the Kingdom of Nri of the Igbo people flourished from the controversial date of
around the 10th century AD until 1911 AD. The Nri Kingdom was ruled by the Eze Nri.
Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to reach Nigeria, giving Lagos its present name after the Portuguese town
of Lagos, in Algarve. Portuguese surnames remain very common in Nigeria. 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.
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.
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.
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 Yorubas and led by Obafemi Awolowo.
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 outmanoeuvred 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[neutrality disputed] electoral circumstances. This left the Igbo NCNC to coalesce with the
remnants of the AG in a weak progressive alliance.
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 & Chukwuma
Kaduna Nzeogwu, it was partially successful - the coupists overthrew the embattled government but could not install their
choice, jailed opposition leader Chief Obafemi Awolowo, General Johnson Aguiyi-ironsi, then head of the army was invited by
the rump of the Balewa regime to take over the affairs of the country as head of state. 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.
The violence against Igbos 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 on 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
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. 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.
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.
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 (between from 1966 until 1999) excluding the short-lived
second republic (between 1979-1983) by military dictators who seized power in coups d'etat 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.
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), interreligious relations and
inadequate infrastructure are current issues in the country.
Nigeria -- Economy --
Nigeria is classified as an emerging market, and is rapidly approaching middle income status, 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.
The bulk of economic activity is centred in 4 main cities: Lagos, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, and Abuja. Beyond these three
economic centres, development is marginal and poverty is still prevalent despite government efforts.
While economic development had been hindered by the years of military rule, corruption, and mismanagement, the
restoration of democracy and subsequent economic reforms have successfully put Nigeria back on more secure economic footing.
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. Many of the projects financed by these debts were inefficient, bedeviled by corruption, or failed to live up to
expectations. When oil prices collapsed during the oil glut of the 1980s, Nigeria was unable to maintain its loan obligations
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 and increased the size of the debt. However, after a long campaign
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. As of April 2006, Nigeria became the first
African Country to fully pay off its debt (estimated $30 billion) owed to the Paris Club.
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%
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.
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
underutilised 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.
Nigeria -- Culture --
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, the legendary writer best known for the novel, Things Fall Apart and his controversial critique of Joseph
Conrad. Other Nigerian writers and poets who are well known on the international stage 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
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. JuJu music which is percussion music fused with traditional music from the
Yoruba nation and made famous by King Sunny Ade, 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 Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Femi Kuti, Lagbaja, Dr. Alban, Sade Adu and Tuface Idibia.
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.
Although Islam is the dominant religion in the country, Nigeria has 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. The main religions are Islam (see also Islam in Nigeria), Christianity, Yoruba Orisha or Orisa veneration and
Ifa. Christianity is concentrated in the southeast portion of the country while Islam dominates in the north of the country.
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, provoking controversy. Kano state of Nigeria
has sought to make Sharia law superior to the constitution.
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 Baha’i 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.
Nigeria has the highest rate of twin births in the world compared to any other country. The Yoruba ethnic group in
particular have the highest ratio of twin births in Nigeria and across the world compared to single births. Twins are very
important in Yoruba culture and they are often known for tending to give special names to each twin. The
first of the twins to be born is traditionally named Taiyewo or Tayewo, (which means 'the first to taste the world'), this is
often shortened to Taiwo, Taiye or Taye. Kehinde, (sometimes shortened to Kenny), is the name of the last born twin. Kehinde
(or Kenny) is sometimes also referred to as Kehindegbegbon which is short for Omokehindegbegbon and means, 'the child that
came last gets the eldest'. The reason for this is because the Yoruba traditionally say that Kehinde, is the true eldest of
the twins despite being the last to be born. It is said that in the womb at the time of birth, Kehinde sends Taiyewo on an
errand to check whether the outside world is good or not, and in Yoruba culture sending someone on an errand tends to be a
prerogative of one's elders. However, the first born twin is also sometimes referred to as Taiyelolu or Tayelolu which is
short for Omotaiyelolu and means, 'the child that came to taste life excels'.
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 only 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 (of Marseille, France).
According to the official September 2007 FIFA World Rankings, Nigeria is currently First-ranked football nation in Africa
and the 19th highest in the world. Nigeria is also involved in other sports such as basketball and track and field. Boxing is
also an important sport in Nigeria; currently, Samuel Peter is the World Heavyweight Champion.
Nigeria -- Political system, law and government --
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
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 outgoing 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.
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
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,
The country has a judicial branch, the highest court of which is the Supreme Court 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
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.
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.
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.
Military of Nigeria
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 dictator Sani Abacha in 1998, with his successor, Abdulsalami Abubakar handing over to a democratically elected
government 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
Active duty personnel in the three Nigerian armed services total approximately 115,000. The Nigerian Army, the largest of
the services, has about 99,000 personnel deployed in two mechanized infantry divisions, one armoured division, one composite
division (airborne and amphibious), the Lagos Garrison Command (a division size unit), the Abuja-based Brigade of Guards and
other regimental size units (e.g. artillery brigade). It has demonstrated its capability to mobilize, deploy, and sustain
battalions in support of peacekeeping operations in Liberia, former Yugoslavia, Angola, Rwanda, Somalia, and Sierra Leone.
The Nigerian Navy (7,000 members) is equipped with frigates, fast attack craft, corvettes, and coastal patrol boats. The
Nigerian Air Force (9,000 members) flies transport, trainer, helicopter, and fighter aircraft, many of which are currently
non-operational, but there is an ongoing policy of reorganization, and the provision of a very professional armed forces with
high capability. Nigeria also has pursued a policy of developing domestic training and military production capabilities.
Nigeria has continued a strict policy of diversification in military procurement from various countries. After the
imposition of sanctions by many Western nations, Nigeria turned to the People's Republic of China, Russia, North Korea, and
India for the purchase of military equipment and training.