Nigeria. According to
countryaah, President Olusegun Obasanjo has promised a tough
fight against corruption, which has long diminished Nigeria's
reputation. Several prominent people fell victim to the
campaign during the year, led by the EFFC Eco Crime
Commission. In March, the Minister of Education was
dismissed for bribing MPs during the budget negotiations.
One of those whose support he bought was the Senate
President, who was also forced to resign. The housing
minister was also dismissed for having sold state-owned land
in attractive areas.
However, the first of importance that was brought to
court was the Chief of Police Tafa Balogun, who was
convicted of fraud and money laundering of approximately SEK
1 billion. The sentence became a six-month prison sentence
and that part of the corporate empire he built up was
seized. The mild sentence was motivated by his being a
first-time offender and showing remorse.
The governor of the oil-rich state of Bayelsa, Diepreye
Alamieyeseigha, was arrested during a visit to the United
Kingdom and charged with money laundering in the
multi-million class. He was released on bail and banned from
leaving the country but was able to return to Nigeria with false
travel documents, reportedly dressed as a woman. However, he
was ousted by the state parliament and immediately arrested
by police after losing his legal immunity.
Alamieyeseigha was by no means unique. During the year,
the EFFC sought foreign aid to recover approximately SEK 130
billion, which other governors are estimated to have
smuggled out. The authorities in Switzerland returned the
equivalent of approximately SEK 3.6 billion that former
dictator Sani Abacha placed in Swiss bank accounts. The most
extensive fraud so far with the so-called Nigerian letter
led to a woman being sentenced to two and a half years in
prison for tricking a Brazilian bank official to transfer
the equivalent of about SEK 1.9 billion to her accounts.
Lack of budgetary discipline led to a 38% increase in
government spending, which was described by the
International Monetary Fund as a threat to macroeconomic
stability. However, the president's attempt to limit
spending increases was voted down by the Senate.
In March, a law was passed restricting the national
organization NLC's (Nigeria Labor Congress defined by Digopaul) power. The law
gives unions the right to stand outside the NLC, whose
strikes against fuel price increases have cost the state
large sums. At the same time, strikes in health care and
education were prohibited.
A national political conference aimed at creating the
basis for a new constitution ended in disagreement. The
conference highlighted the difficulties of holding together
a country with 250 ethnic groups and strong contradictions
between the Muslim northern half of the country and the
Christian south. The biggest stumbling block for unity was
the demand from the oil producing states in the Niger Delta
to manage 25% of the oil revenues themselves.
Separatist tendencies are strong in several places in
Among the Igbo people in the southeast, the demand for the
re-establishment of the state of Biafra is growing ever
stronger. Seven leaders of the Biassera movement MASSOB were
indicted in November for treason. A militia leader from the
Niger Delta was also brought to trial for treason.
Nigeria's longstanding border dispute with Cameroon over Bakassi Peninsula reached no solution, despite the
International Court of Justice's 2002 decision that the area
should belong to Cameroon. However, the countries agreed to,
with financial support from the EU, look over their entire
160 km long common border.
Liberation and gradual struggle for democracy
The first republic 1960-1966
On October 1, 1960, the federal state of Nigeria became
independent, with Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as prime minister.
In November of that year, Nnamdi Azikiwe became
Governor-General of the country's three regions (North, East
and West). The three regions were led by ceremonial
governors. Lagos was the federal capital. When the country
became a republic in 1963, Azikiwe became Nigeria's
In 1961, Nigeria's territory was expanded when a majority
of the people in the northern part of British Cameroon chose
to join Nigeria rather than Cameroon through a referendum.
At independence, Nigeria faced major regional and ethnic
contradictions. In 1962, a Midwest region was established to
ease tensions. In 1964, the people of Benue revolted against
the dominant position of the Northern People's Congress (NPC),
and hundreds more were killed when the army was deployed.
Military rule and the Biafra war
In January 1966, a group of officers tried to take power
in a coup, and several political leaders were killed,
including Prime Minister Balewa. The power was then
transferred to the military under the leadership of Major
General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, an ibo. The tense situation
continued, with new outbreaks of violence between Hausa and
residents in the north. The riots were an indication of the
Hausa people's concern for strong ibodominance in the new
leadership; most of the officers were residents.
In July 1966, officers from the north seized power
through a counter-coup, killing Aguiyi-Ironsi. Colonel
(later General) Yakubu Gowon took over as the country's new
leader. Gowon did not succeed in curbing the conflict. After
more than 10,000 residents were killed in clashes in the
north, a large proportion of the survivors fled from the
northern regions to the ibo areas of eastern Nigeria. The
persecution strengthened the demand for independence among
the ibo people.
On May 30, 1967, the eastern region disassociated itself
from Nigeria and declared itself under the name Biafra. The
disengagement led to the so-called Biafra War (1967-1970),
which possibly claimed over one million human lives; the
vast majority of victims were civilians, and most died of
starvation. Biafra gained recognition from a few states, but
the rebellion was defeated by the federal army and ended in
After the Civil War, Gowon worked to heal the wounds and
reconcile Nigeria. Biafra was reintegrated into Nigeria,
communications rebuilt, and many Bi-French officers
re-enlisted in the Nigerian Army. Bi-French rebel leader
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu "Emeka" Ojukwu was granted asylum in
During the Biafra war, the country was divided into 12
states, to replace the old four provinces, to be expanded
again to 19 in 1976.