Nigeria. According to countryaah, Abuja is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of Nigeria. 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) 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 Nigeria. 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 president.
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 bi-French surrender.
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 Ivory Coast.
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.