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The Historian

Reference Page on Federal Republic of Nigeria

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Who is Who in Nigeria


Obafemi Awolowo

Nnamdi Azikiwe

Ahmadu Bello

Robert Adebayo

Tafawa Balewa

Aguiyi Ironsi

Adetokunbo Ademola

Emeka Ojukwu

Anthony Enahoro

Yakubu Gowon

Dr. T.O. Elias

Murtala Mohammad

David Ejoor

'Segun Obasanjo

Shehu Shagari

Alex Ekwueme

Muhammadu Buhari

'Tunde Idiagbon

J.E.A. Wey

Ibrahim Babangida

Moshood Abiola

Kashim Ibrahim

Ernest Shonekan

Sanni Abacha

'Salam Abubakar

Saro Wiwa

Fela Anikulapo Kuti

Mobolaji Bank-Anthony

Aminu Kano

Hassan Katsina

Mathew Mbu

Michael Okpara

Dennis Osadebey

Kam Salem

Musa Yaradua

Goodluck Jonathan

David Mark

Oladimeji Bankole

Ike Ekweremadu

Usman B. Nafawa

nigeria1.gif (17533 bytes)

Official Name:  Federal Republic of Nigeria

Capital: Abuja

Population: 152,217,341 (July 2010)

Major Languages: Yoruba, Ibo, Hausa, English (official)

Religions: Indigenous beliefs, Christianity, Islam

Currency: Naira & Kobo


A Brief description on the History of Federal Republic of Nigeria:

Pre-Independence: Although the areas of savanna and coastal forest which make up contemporary Nigeria have been inhabited for thousands of years, archeology and linguistics give us only fragmentary glimpses into most of that history. By approximately 2500 to 2000 years ago, iron-working cultures, such as the Nok, were thriving in central and southern Nigeria. The Nok produced sub-Saharan Africa's earliest terracotta sculptures of human figures, establishing what was to become an important tradition of highly-skilled artistry, preserved in many later West African societies. Linguistic evidence also shows that the Nigeria-Cameroon border area was likely the source of the Bantu group of languages, which covers most of sub-Saharan Africa and which is linked to the spread of iron-working.

The political scene leading up to independence, however, was dominated by three regionally based parties: the National Council for Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) in the east, the Action Group (AG) in the west, and the conservative Northern People's Congress (NPC) in the north.

Post Independence: Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation gained independence in October 1st 1963 from the British. Ever since that day, Nigeria remained an uneasy federation of distinct regions. The political class of each region used its authority to harass opponents and to pursue it own interests. At the federa level, the Northern People's Congress, led by northern region premier Ahmadu Bello and federal prime minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, was the leading force in a coalition with the NCNC, while the AG was excluded from power. After openly corrupt elections in 1964, the NCNC was also excluded from national power. The gap between the rich and the poor widened, and protests mounted. In January 1966, middle-ranking members of the Nigerian military staged an attempted coup. This was suppressed by federal troops, but resulted in the installation of a military junta, led by Igbo officers. Regional animosities flared, prompting massacres of Igbo-speakers living in the north. The following year, eastern leaders responded by declaring a separate Republic of Biafra, igniting a three-year civil war. Despite intense ethnic polarization and perhaps as many as one million killed during the war, the winning federal government followed a policy of non-retribution. Subsequent division of Nigeria into smaller states produced larger representation for ethnic groups other than the big three.

Presidential System of Government:

Under the Presidential System of government, the executive is made up of the President, Vice President and the Ministers. After the President has been elected, he is free to choose anybody with good credentials and reputations as his Minister. The Ministers are individually responsible to the President who can dismiss any if found wanting.

Nigeria as the United States of America operates a single Executive system- a situation where a single person functions as both the head of state and head of government.

The Executive initiates most of the bills that are passed into law by the legislature arm. They also have delegated legislative powers which enable them to issue orders, proclamations etc.

It generates finance for the State through tax, rates, customs, and excise duties etc. it draws budget and presents to the legislative as finance and Appropriation Bill for its approval.

The Executive formulates policies for the government on the account of the internal and external affairs of the state. It recruits, train, deploys and monitors staff to ensure that government policies are realised.

1999,  The Year of Democracy

Former General Olusegun Obasanjo, previously a military ruler of Nigeria (1976-79), was inaugurated President on May 29, 1999, promising "fair and transparent government", and vowing to tackle the difficult legacy of previous military regimes. However, one year on, Nigeria's democracy remains fragile, and, despite some important positive developments, there remain serious challenges to the country's stability and to the new political order.

Promising signs of democratic change came swiftly on the heels of Obasanjo's inauguration, and included the creation of panels to investigate past corruption and human rights abuses, and the forced retirement of key military officers involved in previous military regimes. Nigeria became an active participant in regional affairs, helping to broker the Sierra Leone peace agreement and committing financial and military resources to the peacekeeping operation.

Nigeria's democratic transition ushered in a new era in US-Nigeria relations. The end of Nigeria's "international pariah" status was symbolized by President Obasanjo's official visit to the US in October 1999. In the same month, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited Nigeria and announced a proposal to increase US aid four-fold in support of the democratic transition. Nigeria represents an important economic partner for the US, with bilateral trade on the increase - from $4.9 billion in 1994 to $6.7 billion in 1996. The US imports 8% of its oil from the Delta region.

Despite these positive developments, Nigeria's democracy remains fragile. Particularly problematic is the challenge of economic rejuvenation in the context of years of corrupt rule and a massive external debt burden, as well as the difficult issues of regional inequalities, ethnic and religious tensions, and the necessity for more equitable distribution of the wealth generated by Nigeria's natural resources. Nowhere is this issue of responsible resource management and the need for democratic governance more urgent than in Nigeria's oil-producing Delta region.

For years, the Niger Delta has been the site of a highly complex crisis, rooted in the long-term political and economic alienation of its communities, the destruction of their environment and the oppression of their peoples by the military state in league with the multinational corporations that exploit the region's oil (Shell, Chevron etc). The reliance of past regimes on repressive tactics over dialogue, and their repeated failure to address the Delta's fundamental problems, made this a human rights crisis and a threat to Nigeria's stability.

While President Obasanjo visited to the Delta in June 1999 and promised to bring greater development to the region, events since then, in particular the violent military operation in Odi in November 1999, have raised questions as to the government's credibility in taking a new and democratic approach to the problem. With rival minority ethnic groups competing for resources and political voice, and with the Delta communities engaged in a long-term struggle with the oil companies and security forces, the seemingly intractable crisis in the Delta remains a tinderbox in the new Nigeria.

The latest flashpoint to threaten Nigeria's still-fragile democracy is the issue of religious violence, related to the opportunistic moves by some Muslim-dominated northern states to use the new democratic climate to propose the adoption of Sharia (Islamic Law). The religious issue has always been volatile in Nigeria, but has become increasingly divisive since the Sharia issue came to the fore in recent months. Religious protests and bloody clashes between Christians and Muslims have fueled further violent ethnic fighting throughout the country, already on the increase since the democratic transition, and hundreds have been killed and displaced.

This most recent challenge to the still-young democratic government is viewed by many commentators as the most serious threat to the nation's unity since its return to democracy. It is symptomatic of the difficulties inherent in establishing democracy in such an ethnically-diverse country after so many years of military rule.

Tested by such crises, Nigeria's democracy remains fragile, and the challenges faced by Obasanjo and his government threaten to undo much of what has been achieved since military rule was ended. There are still many questions about the internal security of the new Nigeria. If 1999 was a critical year for democracy in Nigeria, 2000 will be no less critical in determining the country's future shape and stability. The president faces the daunting task of rebuilding a petroleum-based economy, whose revenues have been squandered through corruption and mismanagement, and institutionalizing democracy. In addition, the OBASANJO administration must defuse longstanding ethnic and religious tensions, if it is to build a sound foundation for economic growth and political stability. Despite some irregularities, the April 2003 elections marked the first civilian transfer of power in Nigeria's history.

2007 - 2010,  Democracy Continues...

Despite some irregularities, the April 2007 elections marked the second phase of transfer of power in Nigeria's history when President Obasanjo handed power to Alhaji Musa Yaradua the former governor of Katsina. President Musa Yaradua according to some people is the right fit for Nigeria. Who is he?President Umaru Musa Yar'adua, the Executive Governor of Katsina State, was born in Katsina Town, Katsina State in 1951. He started his primary education at Rafukka Primary School, Katsina in 1958. He left Rafukka for Dutsinma Boarding Primary School in 1962 from where he completed his primary education in 1964.

Between 1965-1969, Umaru Yar'adua was at Government College, Keffi in present-day Nasarawa State for his secondary education. He then moved to the famous Barewa College Zaria for his Higher School Certificate between 1970-1971. For his university education, Yar'adua attended the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria from 1972-1975 where he obtained the B.Sc Education/Chemistry. He returned to the same University from 1978-1980 for his M.Sc Degree in Analytical Chemistry.

Unfortunately, President Yaradua hindered from governing the country due to his illiness that continued to take a toll on him. President Yar'Adua travels to Saudi Arabia to be treated for a heart condition. His extended absence triggers a constitutional crisis and leads to calls for him to step down. The decision was taken in order to fill a power vacuum created when the ailing Mr Yar'Adua travelled to Saudi Arabia for treatment for a heart condition in late 2009. Although Mr Yar'Adua returned to Nigeria soon after this, he did not return to work, and Mr Jonathan continued to run state affairs. President Umaru Yar'Adua dies after a long illness. Vice-president Goodluck Jonathan, already acting in Yar'Adua's stead, succeeds him.

Mr Jonathan, elected along with Mr Yar'Adua as his vice-president in 2007, had already been appointed temporary acting president by parliament in February 2010, after lengthy political wrangling.

Mr Jonathan's rapid rise to power was facilitated by the illness of President Yar'Adua

At his inauguration, he named bedding down the peace process in the Niger Delta, fighting corruption and enacting electoral and energy reforms as his main priorities. Analysts say Mr Jonathan is thought to lack a political base of his own, and is regarded as more of an administrator than a leader.

Goodluck Jonathan was born in 1957 in Bayelsa, a state in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Unlike Mr Yar'Adua, a Muslim from northern Katsina state, he is a Christian from the south. After studying zoology at university, he worked as an education inspector, lecturer and environmental protection officer before going into politics in 1998.

Elected deputy governor of his native Bayelsa state in 1999, he was promoted when the governor was impeached on corruption charges in 2005. Two years later, he was hand-picked to be Mr Yar'Adua's running mate in the 2007 election, which the ticket won amid allegations of widespread vote-rigging.

A little-known figure in national politics, Umaru Yar'Adua himself was chosen by outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo as his successor, becoming the first civilian to succeed another without an intervening period of military rule.

Promising wide-ranging reforms, he was dogged by ill health during his three years in office, with the Niger Delta peace process seen as the sole issue on which he achieved substantial progress.

Presidential elections are due in January 2011.

Only Time Will Tell!

Location: Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Benin and Cameroon

Geographic coordinates: 10 00 N, 8 00 E

Map references: Africa

total: 923,770 sq km
land: 910,770 sq km
water: 13,000 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly more than twice the size of California, USA.

Land boundaries: total: 4,047 km
border countries: Benin 773 km, Cameroon 1,690 km, Chad 87 km, Niger 1,497 km

Climate: varies; equatorial in south, tropical in center, arid in north

Terrain: southern lowlands merge into central hills and plateaus; mountains in southeast, plains in north

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Chappal Waddi 2,419 m

Natural resources: Petroleum, Tin, Columbite, Iron ore, Coal, Limestone, Lead, Zinc, Natural Gas

  Executive branch:
chief of state: President Goodluck JONATHAN (since 5 May 2010, acting since 9 February 2010); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government; JONATHAN assumed the presidency on 5 May 2010 following the death of President YAR'ADUA, he was declared Acting President on 9 February 2010 by the National Assembly during the extended illness of the former president head of government: President Goodluck JONATHAN (since 5 May 2010, acting since 9 February 2010) cabinet: Federal Executive Council (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president elected by popular vote for a four-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 21 April 2007 (next to be held on 22 January 2011) election results: Umaru Musa YAR'ADUA elected president; percent of vote - Umaru Musa YAR'ADUA 69.8%, Muhammadu BUHARI 18.7%, Atiku ABUBAKAR 7.5%, Orji Uzor KALU 1.7%, other 2.3%.


Legislative branch:
bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate (109 seats, 3 from each state plus 1 from Abuja; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and House of Representatives (360 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 21 April 2007 (next to be held in April 2011); House of Representatives - last held 21 April 2007 (next to be held in April 2011)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - official results not yet posted as of May 2007; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - official results not yet posted as of May 2007.



Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges appointed by the President); Federal Court of Appeal (judges are appointed by the federal government on the advice of the Advisory Judicial Committee).

Maps courtesy of used with permission. Nigeria Time Capsule and History: Courtesy of & CIA - The World Factbook