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Country Profile

Area: 923,768 sq km (356,700 sq miles)
Population: 151 million (World Bank, 2009)
Capital City: Abuja (6 million)
Other Major Cities: Lagos, Ibadan, Kano and at least 7 other cities with a population of over 1 million
People: Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw and some 250 ethno-linguistic groups
Language(s): English (official) but Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo are also used in the National Assembly
Religion(s): Muslim, Christian and traditional
Currency: Naira (NGN)
Major political parties: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Action Congress (AC)
Head of State: President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (inaugurated 6 May 2010)
Vice-President: Namadi Sambo
Foreign Minister: Odein Ajumogobia
Membership of international groupings/organisations: United Nations (UN), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU), Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Commonwealth, African Development Bank (ADB).

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Basic Economic Facts

GDP: US$212bn (2009)
GDP per head: US$1,402 (2006)
Annual Growth: 6.9% (Nigerian Govt figures for 2009)
Inflation: 11.0% ( May 2010)
Major Industries: Agriculture, Oil, Gas as LNG
Major trading partners: US, China, Brazil, EU, UK
Exchange rate: £1 = N219 (June 2010).
Nigeria is the world’s 11th largest producer of oil with a current output of 2.2 million barrels per day (mbpd) of quality crude. Current capacity is closer to 3mbpd, but a poor security situation prevents higher production and makes it less likely the target of 4 mbpd by 2010 will be achieved. Although there has been increasing focus on diversifying the economy, it is still highly dependent on the oil/gas sector and is sensitive to price fluctuations. In 2006, oil accounted for just over one fifth of GDP, 85% of government revenue and over 90% of export earnings. Agriculture accounted for around 40% of GDP employing around 70% of the population, the services sector for just over 30% and manufacturing 5% of GDP.

Despite Nigeria’s oil wealth, a large population means Nigeria’s GDP per capita is low. Few Nigerians, including those in oil-producing areas, have benefited from the oil wealth. Estimated GDP is over $200bn but only $1400 per capita. Adjusted for purchasing power roughly two thirds live on less than $1.25 per day and more than four fifths less than $2 per day. The trade in stolen oil, alongside poor governance, has fuelled violence and corruption in the Niger Delta.

Nigeria has some of the worst social indicators: 1 in 5 children die before the age of 5; 12 million children are not in school; approximately 6% of the population are now HIV positive.

The World Bank ranks Nigeria 125th out of 183 countries on the 2008 ease of doing business report. It was 130th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index in 2008.

Nigeria faces immense challenges in accelerating growth, reducing poverty and meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In May 2004, Nigeria launched its National and State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (NEEDS and SEEDS) for growth and poverty reduction based on 3 pillars: (i) empowering people and improving social service delivery; (ii) improving the private sector and focusing on non-oil growth; and (iii) changing the way government works and improving governance. This was followed in 2007 by President Yar’Adua’s 7-point agenda. Some good progress was made, particularly at federal level on macroeconomic stabilisation and procurement, as well as during the last year on financial sector reform. However, much remains to be done, and attention is focused on new President Jonathan to see what initiatives he will pursue in order to deliver economic development.

IMF Country Reports - Nigeria (

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Nigeria was a British colonial creation. It came into being in January 1914 with the amalgamation of the Colony of Lagos (first annexed in 1861), the Southern Protectorates (established 1885 – 1894) and the Northern Protectorate (pacified by 1903). Hitherto, the British had administered them as separate but related territories. Local involvement in government was introduced as early as 1922 when southern politicians, from Lagos and Calabar, took seats in the central legislative assembly. Their northern counterparts did not have legislative experience until 1947 when a new constitution introduced the principle of regional representation. The 1954 constitution created fully-fledged regional governments, and federal elections were held in 1959 the year before independence.

Nigeria was granted its independence on 1 October 1960, originally with Dominion status. In 1963, Nigeria broke its direct links with the British Crown, and became a Republic within the Commonwealth. The independence constitution provided for a federation of three autonomous regions - Northern, Western and Eastern - each with wide-ranging powers, its own constitution, public service, and marketing boards. The overarching but weaker federal government had powers limited to national issues, including control of the police and army, and economic planning. The political system was derived from the Westminster model. A fourth region – the Mid-West – was created in 1964 to satisfy the demand of the minorities.

In the early 1960s, the inherited regional structure led to a series of crises and conflicts, both within and between the 3 ethno-centric regions, as competition grew for control over the federal centre. The 1964 federal elections were marred by violence and rigging. Inter-party and inter-ethnic tensions continued leading ultimately to a military takeover in January 1966, led by Igbo officers. Thereafter Nigeria's post-independence history was marked by a series of military interventions in politics: coups, counter-coups, and a civil war (1967-70) when the Eastern Region attempted to secede as the Republic of Biafra. Over 1 million died in the conflict. Nigeria has only enjoyed 3 short periods of civilian rule – 1960-65, 1979-83, and 1999 to the present. The intervening periods, totalling 29 years, saw military governments in place.

In an attempt to break up the power of the regions, and forestall future conflict, the regional structure was dismantled in 1967, and replaced by 12 states. At the same time, the federal centre took back most of the powers to itself, and a new radical revenue sharing formula was established which deprived the new states of most of their derivation funds. Additional states were later created in phases in response to demands from powerful local interest groups – in 1976 the number rose to 19, in 1989 to 21, in 1991 to 30, and in 1996 to 36. No new states have been created since then although pressures for new states are ever present. A new Federal Capital Territory, at Abuja in the centre of the country, was created in 1976 but it was not fully operational until the mid-1990s.

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Nigeria is the predominant power in West Africa. It was instrumental in the creation of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) in 1975. Under the ECOWAS umbrella, Nigeria has taken the lead in conflict resolution in several West African civil wars, putting troops into Liberia (twice) and Sierra Leone. Nigeria has also played an important role in other conflicts, most recently in Sudan, Sao Tome, and Cote d'Ivoire. Nigerian peacekeeping troops are currently stationed in Darfur as part of the African Union mission, and Nigeria is – globally – the fourth largest contributor to peacekeeping operations..

African Union (
The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) (

Nigeria's long-running territorial dispute with Cameroon over the common border was finally settled when the ICJ ruled in October 2002. Minor adjustments were made along the whole length of the border, and some villages have been transferred as a result. The key judgement concerned the Bakassi peninsula. The ICJ awarded sovereignty to Cameroon but made pragmatic provision for ownership of the oil fields in the maritime sector. The modalities of the transfer of Bakassi were worked out in a Mixed Commission under UN aegis. Nigerian troops withdrew from Bakassi in August 2006, and the Peninsula was formally handed over from Nigeria to Cameroon in August 2008.

Nigeria's Relations with the UK

The bilateral relationship is strong. The UK has been a leading supporter of Nigeria since the return to civilian rule and was a key advocate of debt relief for Nigeria. There is a steady flow of high-level visits in both directions, including a visit by HM The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh in December 2003, and the Prince of Wales in 2006.

There is a large Nigerian community in the UK, estimated to be between 800,000 and 3 million, while up to 4,000 Britons live in Nigeria.

Nigerian Government website (

Cultural Relations with the UK

The British Council ( offices in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt.

Recent Visits


Principal recent visits to the UK include:

President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (July 2008)

Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe (October 2007)


Principal recent visits to Nigeria include:

Baroness Kinnock (November 2009)

Lord Malloch Brown, (September 2008)

UK Policy

For recent statements of UK government policy towards Nigeria go to the website of the British High Commission in Abuja ( .

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Nigeria is located in West Africa, bordered by Benin to the west, Niger to the north, Cameroon to the east and the Atlantic Ocean. The terrain varies from coastal swamps and tropical forest in the south, to savannah and semi-desert in the north. The highest points are the Jos Plateau in the centre (1,200-2,000 metres above sea level) and the mountains along the eastern border. The river Niger, the third longest river in Africa, reaches the sea through an extensive Delta of mangrove swamps.

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Trade and Investment with the UK

Nigeria is the UK's second largest market in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa. The value of UK exports has increased steadily from £535 million in 2000 to £1.3 billion in 2009. Imports from Nigeria were worth £95 million in 2000, rising to £800 million in 2009. The UK is one of the largest investors in Nigeria, with cumulative investment of several billion pounds by Shell, British Gas and Centrica in the oil and gas sector. Other large British companies active in Nigeria include Guinness, Unilever, PZ Cussons, AstraZeneca, Cadbury, British-American Tobacco, GlaxoSmithKline, JCB, Jaguar, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.


In spite of its oil wealth, Nigeria is not a rich country.

-- Despite ‘oil wealth’, Nigeria’s GDP in 2007 was 6 percent of the UK’s economy, with double the population.

-- Over half of the population live in extreme poverty. Nigeria is off track to meet all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

-- Northern Nigeria has the world’s worst human development indicators outside conflict and post-conflict zones.

UK Development Assistance

The Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK Government’s development assistance to Nigeria. The UK has increased its support substantially since 2003.

The objectives of UKAid in Nigeria are:
-- to promote non-oil growth, to create jobs and incomes for more people;

-- to promote better governance and more effective public spending by the Government of Nigeria, focused on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and poverty reduction, at Federal and State levels; and

-- to help Nigeria deliver basic services to all its people.

Impacts of UK aid in Nigeria: in 2009-10, DFID:
-- Distributed two million malaria nets, and supported the Government of Nigeria to distribute an additional twelve million nets to a total of seven million households in the country.

-- Improved access to nearly 800 schools with funds for repairs, materials, uniform provision and advocacy; and helped 1800 women from rural areas of Northern Nigeria to undertake teacher training.

-- Helped immunise 395,000 one year old children against measles. The number of cases of measles reduced from 22,000 cases in 2008 to 355 in 2009.

-- Provided 75% of the condoms in Nigeria, and improved young people’s access to HIV prevention information, helping to increase willingness to take an HIV test from 40% to 72%.

-- Helped to increase power generation, widely recognised as Nigeria's worst constraint on growth.

DFID website: (
DFID - Nigeria Country Assistance Plan (

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Nigeria operates an Executive Presidential system of government. This American-style model was first introduced in 1979, during the last period of civilian rule, and retained on the return to civilian rule in 1999. It replaced the Westminster system that had been inherited at independence. The federal bi-cameral legislature comprises a Senate with 109 elected members and a 360-member House of Representatives. Each of the 36 States has an elected Governor and an elected State Assembly of between 24 and 40 seats depending on the size of the population. All elected offices have a 4-year tenure. The third tier comprises 774 Local Government Areas. There is a 2-term constitutional limit on the tenure of the President and the State Governors.

Nigeria is a multi-party state. Nearly 50 political parties are officially registered but only 3, the ruling PDP, the ANPP and the AC, have electoral strength. The PDP is the largest party with a national spread, the ANPP heartland is in the north, while the AC is a new opposition alliance with support across the country. The 1999 elections, which returned Nigeria to civilian rule, brought retired General Obasanjo to power with 62% of the vote. He was returned in 2003 with a similar mandate. The PDP took control of 21 State Governorships in 1999, 28 in 2003 and 28 in 2007.

The most recent elections, held in April 2007, were heavily criticised by foreign and domestic observer groups for poor organisation and large-scale rigging. The PDP’s Presidential candidate, Umaru Yar’Adua, was returned with 70% of the vote. A number of legal challenges to the declared Presidential and Gubernatorial results were mounted, and several Gubernatorial election results overturned as a result. President Yar’Adua died in May 2010 following a lengthy illness, and was succeeded by his Vice President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.

The next elections are due to take place in early 2011.

BBC News Country Profile: Nigeria (

BBC News: Africa (

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Nigeria's human rights situation has improved since the return to civilian rule. The Obasanjo government set up the Oputa Panel to investigate human rights abuses during military rule. His government also established a National Human Rights Commission. Nigeria has a large and active civil society and a free and vibrant press. Human rights abuses still occur, largely at the hands of the ill-trained security forces. The use of torture, beatings and extra-judicial killings are still reported.. Nigeria retains the death penalty and several hundred prisoners remain on death row. A number of executions have been carried out over the past few years, with little publicity. Homosexuality remains illegal under Federal law, although individuals are rarely prosecuted.

The introduction of the Sharia penal code in 12 northern, largely Muslim states in 1999, provoked tensions between Muslims and Christians. Outbreaks of violence in Kano in 2000 and Kaduna in 2002 left several thousand dead. Hudud punishments meted out by Sharia courts have caused international disquiet. Amputations have taken place, but so far no sentences of death-by-stoning have been carried out.

In January 2003, the first UK/Nigeria human rights dialogue took place in Abuja. In 2004, the UK and Nigeria signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in persons. The UK has funded a number of projects over the past few years on a range of human rights issues. We have supported work aimed at bringing an end to torture and the death penalty.

Human rights abuses occur in Nigeria as a result of communal conflict, often involving conflicting communities and security forces. In recent years violence has claimed hundreds of lives in the Niger Delta, Kaduna, Plateau, Borno and Kano States.

Annual Human Rights Report (http://Annual Human Rights Report)

Advance Fee Frauds

Many people and companies in the UK (and elsewhere) receive letters, faxes and e-mails, purporting to come from Nigerian individuals or government departments, offering them large sums of money in exchange for allowing use of their bank accounts. These are frauds, and the money does not exist. The fraudsters obtain contact details from various sources, including telephone and commercial directories, so recipients are not being specifically targeted.

We recommend that people do not reply to these communications. The fraudsters are either trying to obtain details of bank accounts so that they can raid them, or will be told that there are various 'advance fees' that have to be paid before the money can be transferred. Examples of these fees are processing fees, legal fees, bribes or air tickets. People have lost thousands of pounds in these frauds.

If you wish to find out any more information on these fraudulent correspondences please contact fraud desk at the Metropolitan Police.

Please contact them via e-mail: (

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Last Updated: June 2010

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