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The people of Nigeria have an extensive history, and archaeological
evidence shows that human habitation of the area dates back to at
least 9000 BC. The Benue-Cross River area is thought to be the
original homeland of the Bantu migrants who spread across most of
central and southern Africa in waves between the 1st millennium
BC and the 2nd millennium AD.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the eighth most
populous country in the world with a population of over 140 million.
The country is listed among the "Next Eleven" economies.
2 Government and politics
2.2 Foreign relations
2.3 Military of Nigeria
3.1 States and local government areas
3.2 Population of Nigeria's cities over 1,000,000
4.1 Environmental degradation
6.1 Ethno-linguistic groups
7.2 Music and film
8 Societal issues
8.1 Human rights
8.2 Strife and sectarian violence
8.3 Health issues
8.5 National well-being
10 External links
11 See also
Main article: History of Nigeria
See also: Nigerian military juntas of 1966-1979 and 1983-1998 and
History of Nigeria before 1500
The Nok people in central Nigeria produced terracotta sculptures
that have been discovered by archaeologists. 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 Africa.
The Yoruba people date their presence in the area of modern republics
of Nigeria, Benin and Togo to about 8500 BC. The kingdoms of If?
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. If? produced the terra cotta and bronze heads,
the ?y? 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 which was named Lagos by the Portuguese
traders and other early European settlers.
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 electoral circumstances. This left the Igbo NCNC to
coalesce with the remnants of the AG in a weak progressive alliance.
Map of NigeriaThis 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 Lt Colonel Emeka Ojukwu in line with
the wishes of the people. The Nigerian side attacked Biafra 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 an assassination.
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.
Umaru Yar'Adua of the People's Democratic Party is the current president
of NigeriaBabangida'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. Abacha was not only
brutal but very corrupt. While Babaginda encouraged his friends,
family and himself to steal money, Abacha made corruption a family
affair. 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'état 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.[attribution
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
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.
Government and politics
Main article: Politics of Nigeria
See also: Government of Nigeria
See also: Federal Ministries of Nigeria
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 legislature.
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
declaredly 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 rigging.
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, and Kebbi.
The country has a judicial branch, the highest court of which is
the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
National Assembly complex in AbujaMain article: Foreign relations
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; 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
Main article: Military of Nigeria
Nigerian troopsThe 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.
Taking advantage of its role of sub-Saharan 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 mandate.
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
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.
Main article: Geography of Nigeria
Satellite image of Nigeria, generated from raster graphics data
supplied by The Map Library
Map of vegetation in NigeriaNigeria is located in western Africa
on the Gulf of Guinea and has a total area of 923,768 km² (356,669
mi²), making it the world's 32nd-largest country (after
Tanzania). It is comparable in size to Venezuela, and is about twice
the size of California. It shares a 4047 km (2515-mile) border with
Benin (773 km), Niger (1497 km), Chad (87 km), Cameroon (1690 km),
and has a coastline of at least 853 km.
The highest point in Nigeria is Chappal Waddi at 2,419 m (7,936
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.
Nigeria's main rivers are the Niger and the Benue which converge
and empty into the Niger Delta, the world's largest river deltas.
Nigeria is also an important centre for biodiversity. It is widely
believed that the areas surrounding Calabar, Cross River State,
contain the world's largest diversity of butterflies. The drill
monkey is only found in the wild in Southeast Nigeria and neighboring
States and local government areas
States of NigeriaMain articles: States of Nigeria and Local Government
Areas of Nigeria
Nigeria is divided into thirty-six states and one Federal Capital
Territory, which are further sub-divided into 774 Local Government
Areas (LGAs). The plethora of states, of which there were only three
at independence, reflect the country's tumultuous history and the
difficulties of managing such a heterogeneous national entity at
all levels of government.
Nigeria has six cities with a population of over 1 million people
(from largest to smallest: Lagos, Kano, Ibadan, Kaduna, Port Harcourt,
and Benin City). Lagos is the largest city in sub-Saharan Africa,
with a population of over 10 million in its urban area alone.
See also: List of cities in Nigeria
Population of Nigeria's cities over 1,000,000
Nigeria has 23 cities with a population over 300,000.
Port Harcourt 1,320,214
Benin City 1,051,600
Nigeria's Delta region, home of the large oil industry, experiences
serious oil spills and other environmental problems. See Environmental
issues in the Niger Delta for more details, and Conflict in the
Niger Delta about strife which has arisen in connection with those
Waste management including sewage treatment, the linked processes
of deforestation and soil degradation, and climate change or global
warming are the major environmental problems in Nigeria.
Waste management presents problems in a mega city like Lagos and
other major Nigerian cities which are linked with economic development,
population growth and the inability of municipal councils to manage
the resulting rise in industrial and domestic waste. Haphazard industrial
planning, increased urbanization, poverty and lack of competence
of the municipal government are seen as the major reasons for high
levels of waste pollution in major Nigerian cities. Some of the
'solutions' have been disastrous to the environment, resulting in
untreated waste being dumped in places where it can pollute waterways
In terms of global warming, Africans contribute only about one
metric ton of carbon dioxide per person per year. It is perceived
by many climate change experts that food production and security
in the northern sahel region of the country will suffer as semi-arid
areas will have more dry periods in the future.
Two slightly differing Okpoho Manillas, an archaic form of Nigerian
money.Main article: Economy of Nigeria
Main article: Transport in Nigeria
The currency unit of Nigeria is the Nigerian Naira.
Years of military rule, corruption, and mismanagement have hampered
economic activity and output in Nigeria and continue to do so, despite
the restoration of democracy and subsequent economic reform. According
to the Economist Intelligence Unit and the World Bank, Nigerian
GDP at purchasing power parity was only at $170.7 billion as of
FY 2005. The GDP per head is at $692. 
Petroleum plays a large role in the Nigerian economy, accounting
for 40% of the GDP. It is the 12th largest producer of petroleum
in the world and the 8th largest exporter, and has the 10th largest
proven reserves and the country was also a founding member of OPEC.
However, due to crumbling infrastructure, corruption, and ongoing
civil strife in the Niger Delta, its main oil producing region,
oil production and export is not at 100% capacity.
Mineral resources that are present in Nigeria but not yet fully
exploited are coal and tin. Other natural resources in the country
include iron ore, limestone, niobium, lead, zinc, and arable land.
Despite huge deposits of these natural resources, the mining industry
in Nigeria is almost non-existent. About 60% of Nigerians are employed
in the agricultural sector. Agriculture used to be the principal
foreign exchange earner of Nigeria. Perhaps, one of the most daunting
ramifications of the discovery of oil was the decline of agricultural
sector. So tragic was this neglect that Nigeria, which in the 1960s
grew 98% of his own food and was a net food exporter, now must import
much of the same cash crops it was formerly famous for as the biggest
exporter. Agricultural products include groundnuts, palm oil, cocoa,
coconut, citrus fruits, maize, pearl millet, cassava, yams and sugar
cane. It also has a booming leather and textile industry, with industries
located in Kano, Abeokuta, Onitsha, and Lagos.
Like many Third World nations, Nigeria accumulated a significant
foreign debt. Many of the projects financed by these debts were
inefficient, bedeviled by corruption or failed to live up to expectations.
Eventually, Nigeria defaulted on its principal debt repayments as
arrears and penalty interest accumulated 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 that reduced Nigeria's debt by approximately 60%. Nigeria
used part of its oil windfall 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 her debt (estimated $30billion) owed to the Paris Club.
Nigeria also has significant production and manufacturing facilities
such as factories for the French car manufacturer Peugeot, the English
truck manufacturer Bedford, now a subsidiary of General Motors.
Nigeria also manufactures t-shirts and processed food.
Main article: Demographics of Nigeria
Population density in NigeriaNigeria is the most populous country
in Africa but exactly how populous is a subject of speculation.
The United Nations estimates that the population in 2004 was at
131,530,000 , with the population distributed as 48.3% Urban
and 51.7% rural and population density at 139 people per square
km. National census results in the past few decades have been disputed.
The results of the most recent census by the Government of Nigeria
have been released 29 December 2006. The census gave a population
of 140.003.542. The only breakdown available was Total: 140.003.542
Men: 71.709.859 Women: 68.293.083
According to the United Nations, Nigeria has been undergoing explosive
population growth and one of the highest growth and fertility rates
in the world. By their projections, Nigeria will be one of the countries
in the world that will account for most of the world's total population
increase by 2050.  According to current data, one out of every
four Africans is Nigerian.  Presently, Nigeria is the ninth most
populous country in the world, and even conservative estimates conclude
that more than 20% of the world's black population lives in Nigeria.
2006 estimates claim 42.3% of the population is between 0-14 years
of age, while 54.6% is between 15-65; the birth rate is significantly
higher than the death rate, at 40.4 and 16.9 per 1000 people respectively.
Health, health care, and general living conditions in Nigeria are
poor. Life expectancy is 47 years (average male/female) and just
over half the population has access to potable water and appropriate
sanitation; the percentage is of children under five has gone up
rather than down between 1990 and 2003 and infant mortality is 97.1
deaths per 1000 live births. HIV/AIDS rate in Nigeria is much
lower compared to the other African nations such as Kenya or South
Africa whose prevalence (percentage) rates are in the double digits.
Nigeria, like many developing countries, also suffers from a polio
crisis as well as periodic outbreaks of cholera, malaria, and sleeping
sickness. As of 2004, there has been a vaccination drive, spearheaded
by the W.H.O., to combat polio and malaria that has been met with
controversy in some regions.
Education is also in a state of neglect, though after the oil boom
on the oil price in the early 1970s, tertiary education was improved
so it would reach every subregion of Nigeria. Education is provided
free by the government, but the attendance rate for secondary education
is only 29% (average male 32%/female 27%). The education system
has been described as "dysfunctional" largely due to decaying
institutional infrastructure. 68% of the population is literate,
and the rate for men (75.7%) is higher than that for women (60.6%).
See also: Education in Nigeria
See also: List of Nigerian universities
Linguistic map of Nigeria, Cameroon, and BeninNigeria has more than
250 ethnic groups, with varying languages and customs, creating
a country of rich ethnic diversity. The largest ethnic groups are
the Fulani/Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, accounting for 68% of population,
while the Edo, Ijaw (10%), Kanuri, Ibibio, Ebira Nupe and Tiv comprise
27%; other minorities make up the remaining 7 percent. The middle
belt of Nigeria is known for its diversity of ethnic groups, including
the Pyem, Goemai, and Kofyar.
There are small minorities of British, Americans, East Indians,
Chinese, Japanese, Syrian, Lebanese and refugees and immigrants
from other West African or East African nations. These minorities
mostly reside in major cities such as Lagos and Abuja, or in the
Niger Delta as employees for the major oil companies. A number of
Cubans settled Nigeria as political refugees following the Cuban
Revolution. A number of them include Afro-Cubans and mixed-raced
In the middle of the nineteenth century, a number of ex-slaves
of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian descent and emigrants from
Sierra Leone established communities in Lagos, Ibadan and other
regions of Nigeria. Many ex-slaves came to Nigeria following the
emancipation of slaves in Latin America. Many of the immigrants,
sometimes called Saros (immigrants from Sierra Leone) and Amaro
(ex-slaves from Brazil) later became prominent merchants and
missionaries in Lagos and Abeokuta.
Main article: Languages of Nigeria
The number of languages currently estimated and catalogued in Nigeria
is 521. This number includes 510 living languages, two second languages
without native speakers and 9 extinct languages. In some areas of
Nigeria, ethnic groups speak more than one language. The official
language of Nigeria, English, was chosen to facilitate the cultural
and linguistic unity of the country. The choice of English as the
official language was partially related to the fact that a part
of Nigerian population spoke English as a result of British colonization
that ended in 1960.
The major languages spoken in Nigeria represent three major families
of African languages - the majority are Niger-Congo languages, such
as Yoruba, Ibo, the Hausa language is Afro-Asiatic; and Kanuri,
spoken in the northeast, primarily Borno State, is a member of the
Nilo-Saharan family. Even though most ethnic groups prefer to communicate
in their own languages, English, being the official language, is
widely used for education, business transactions and for official
purposes. English as a first language, however, remains an exclusive
preserve of a small minority of the country's urban elite, and is
not spoken at all in some rural areas. With the majority of Nigeria's
populace in the rural areas, the major languages of communication
in the country remain indigenous languages. Some of the largest
of these, notably Yoruba and Ibo, have derived standardized languages
from a number of different dialects and are widely spoken by those
ethnic groups. Hausa is a lingua franca throughout much of West
Africa, and serves this function in Northern Nigeria as well, particularly
amongst the Muslim population. Nigerian Pidgin English, often known
simply as 'Pidgin' or 'Broken' (Broken English), is also as a popular
lingua franca, though with varying regional influences on dialect
and slang.The pidgin English or Nigerian English is widely spoken
within the Niger Delta Regions, predominately in Warri,Sapele, Port-Harcourt,
Agenebode, Benin City etc. The Yoruba language has the most varied
forms and dialects. This variation is usually based on the different
towns or as it were Kingdoms that existed before the advent of Europeans.
They are as diverse as the number of city states that there are.
Examples are Awori, Ondo/Ekiti, Egba/Yewa, Oyo/Ibadan, Ijebu, Ijesa/Ife,
Main article: Culture of Nigeria
See also: Nigerian literature
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,Chidi Anthony Opara, Chimamanda
Ngozi Adichie, Lanre Adekola, 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
Femi Kuti, son of Fela Kuti, is one of the major performers of modern
Afrobeat musicSee also: Music of Nigeria and Cinema of Nigeria
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 Adé, 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.
Famous musicians that come from Nigeria are Fela Kuti, Adewale
Ayuba, Ezebuiro Obinna, Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, King Sunny
Adé, Ebenezer Obey, Femi Kuti, Lagbaja, Dr. Alban, Sade Adu,
[Seal] 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.
Abuja National MosqueMain article: Religion in Nigeria
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 four main religions are Islam (see also Islam
in Nigeria), Christianity, Orisha, and Animism. Animist religious
practices include traditional religious belief systems such as Igbo
mythology. Christianity is concentrated in the southeast portion
of the country while Islam dominates in the north of the country.
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 Bahá’í Faith, Chrislam
(A blend of Christianity and Islam), and Nigeria has become
an African hub for Grail Movement, the Rosicrucian order (AMORC),
and Hari Krishna.
Main article: Football in Nigeria
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 Brom (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
Main article: Cuisine of Nigeria
Nigerian cuisine, like West African cuisine in general, is known
for its richness and variety. Many different spices, herbs and flavourings
are used in conjunction with palm oil or groundnut oil to create
deeply-flavoured sauces and soups often made very hot with chilli
peppers. Nigerian feasts are colourful and lavish, while aromatic
market and roadside snacks cooked on barbecues or fried in oil are
plentiful and varied.
Despite its vast government revenue from the mining of petroleum,
Nigeria is beset by a number of societal problems due primarily
to a history of inept governance. Some of these problems are listed
Main article: Human rights in Nigeria
Further information: Gay rights in Nigeria
Homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria as it runs counter to the country's
deeply ingrained cultural and religious morals. Homosexual intercourse
is punishable by imprisonment in the south and possibly death in
the Muslim north.
On February 14, 2007 The National Assembly held public hearings
on a bill to ban gay marriage and criminalize virtually all forms
of gay expression. The bill reads as follows:
Any person who is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies
and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity
and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly
in public and in private is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction
to a term of five years imprisonment.
In April 2007, the voluntary Sharia police of Nigeria known as
the Hisbah issued arrest warrants against an alleged lesbian who
married four women in a large celebration in Kano, Nigeria.
Strife and sectarian violence
See also: Conflict in the Niger Delta
Due to its multitude of diverse, sometimes competing ethno-linguistic
groups, Nigeria has been beset since prior to independence with
sectarian tensions and violence. This is particularly true in the
oil-producing Niger Delta region, where both state and civilian
forces employ varying methods of coercion in attempts gain control
over regional petroleum resources. The civilian population, and
especially certain ethnic groups like the Ogoni, have experienced
severe environmental degradation due to petroleum extraction, but
when these groups have attempted to protest these injustices, they
have been met with repressive measures by Nigerian government and
military forces. As a result, strife and deterioration in this region
continues as of 2006.
There are also significant tensions on a national scale, especially
between the primarily Muslim, highly conservative northern population
and the Christian population from the Southern part of the country.
Since the end of the civil war in 1970, ethnic and religious violence
has continued. Violence between Muslims and Christians occurred
until early 2004. There has subsequently been a period of relative
harmony since the Federal Government introduced tough new measures
against religious violence in all affected parts of the country.
In 2002, organizers of the Miss World Pageant announced that they
would move the pageant from the Nigerian capital, Abuja, to London
in the wake of violent protests in the Northern part of the country
that left more than 100 people dead and over 500 injured. The rioting
erupted after a newspaper suggested Muhammad would have approved
of the Miss World beauty contest for personal reasons. Muslim rioters
in Kaduna killed an estimated 105 men, women, and children with
a further 521 injured taken to hospital. Angry mobs in the mainly
Muslim city 600 kilometres (375 miles) northeast of Lagos burnt
churches and rampaged through the streets, stabbing, bludgeoning,
and burning bystanders to death.
See also: Health care in Nigeria
Nigeria has been reorganizing its health system since the Bamako
Initiative of 1987 formally promoted community-based methods of
increasing accessibility of drugs and health care services to the
population, in part by implementing user fees. The new strategy
dramatically increased accessibility through community-based healthcare
reform, resulting in more efficient and equitable provision of services.
A comprehensive approach strategy was extended to all areas of health
care, with subsequent improvement in the health care indicators
and improvement in health care efficiency and cost.
The state of health care in Nigeria has been worsened by a shortage
of doctors as a consequence of severe 'brain drain'. Many Nigerian
doctors have emigrated to North America and Europe. In 1995, 21,000
Nigerian doctors were practising in the US alone, about the same
as the number of doctors then in the Nigerian public service. Retaining
these expensively-trained professionals has been identified as an
Main article: Advance fee fraud
Advance fee fraud (also known as "419" and the "Nigerian
scam") is a form of organized crime that is commonly associated
with Nigeria, though it is now used in other places. The scammer
persuades the target to advance relatively small sums of money (the
advance fee) in the hope of realizing a much larger gain (usually
touted as millions). In 2003, the Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission (or EFCC) was created to combat this and other forms
of organized financial crime. It has succeeded in bringing several
"419" kingpins to justice and in some cases has been able
to return the stolen money to victims.
In 2003, Nigerians were reported to be the happiest people in a
scientific survey carried out in 65 nations in 1999-2000. The
research was reported by one of the world's top science magazines,
New Scientist, and was picked up by a number of news outlets. See
Nigeria tops happiness survey. The report considered that the country's
family life and culture were more important than its problems and
material wealth in determining happiness.