Nigeria is West Africa’s unrivalled economic powerhouse. With a population of over 190 million people and a gross domestic product of over US$380bn, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and second-largest economy.
The country’s gross national income (GNI) per capita was US$5 740 in 2016. While its GNI per capita puts Nigeria in the top third among African countries, its GINI score of 48.8 (in 2013) suggests that income is unevenly distributed across the population. Nigeria is endowed with Africa’s second largest oil reserves. In addition to its large oil deposits, Nigeria has a number of other notable mineral resources including coal, gold, bitumen, iron ore and uranium.
Two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), dominate Nigerian politics. President Muhammadu Buhari, of the APC, currently governs the country, while the next elections are due to be held in early 2019. Analysts predict another close race between the two dominant parties, as it is at this point unlikely that a third party will be able to mobilise sufficient resources to mount a serious challenge.
Nigeria is a culturally diverse country. Ethnic groups play a significant role in the country where political and economic power is often tied to cultural allegiances. The major ethnic groups are the Hausa-Fulani (29%), Yoruba (21%) and the Igbo (10%).4 Furthermore, the country is split geographically along religious lines, the 46% Muslim population living predominantly in the north, while the 46% Christian population mostly live in the south of the country.5 Outliers to this trend are the diverse populations of major urban centres such as Lagos, Kano, Ibadan and Kaduna. Africa’s second largest economy is home to 190 million people 2 Nigeria Country Report
In recent years, violence occurred in a number of regions across the country. In the Niger Delta, located in the southeast of the country, the 50-year-old Biafra independence movement has regained traction, leading to sporadic sabotage of oil production. Concurrently, Fulani herdsmen have carried out violent raids in the country’s middle belt. Tensions over land rights with farmers in the region are seen as the root cause for the conflict. For over a decade, government forces have been fighting Boko Haram, an insurgent group in the north of the country set on creating an Islamic caliphate. Since the start of the conflict, tens of thousands have been killed and over 2.3 million have been displaced.6 A regional coalition between Nigeria and its neighbours Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger was formed to combat Boko Haram in 2015. The coalition has made headway in recapturing territory controlled by insurgents.
While trying to shake off the negative image that the volatile security situation created internationally, Nigeria has become a global force through its soft power of arts and culture. In terms of sales volume, Nollywood (Nigeria’s film industry), is second only to India’s Bollywood.7 The country’s minister of information and culture has described the arts industry as the “new oil”, its spread accelerated by the 17 million Nigerian diasporas living across the world.
Nigeria is part of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a group of 15 countries with a combined population of over 360 million people. In 2016, Nigeria played a critical role in ECOWAS’ intervention in the Gambia, supporting the democratic process by persuading former President Jammeh to vacate his office after he refused to step down upon being defeated in elections. Nollywood is the second largest film industry in the world 3 Nigeria.