Nigeria: Struggle for Stability and Status

Nigeria: Struggle for Stability and Status

Nigeria: Struggle for Stability and Status

Nigeria: Struggle for Stability and Status


Providing a comprehensive analysis of Nigeria since its independence in 1960, this book presents a wide range of social, political, & economic factors to explain the context within which successive military & civilian governments have operated. Two key themes provide structure & insight into events, namely Nigeria's dual struggles for domestic stability & international status. The difficulties in achieving these objectives on a long-term basis are explained & placed in the current context of re-civilianization & the changing political economy.


Nigeria is Africa's most populous country and, economically, one of the continent's strongest. Successive governments have tried to position the country as the "champion" or leader of Africa, pursuing high-profile foreign policies both within the continent and throughout the wider international community.

Such a strategy has often been undermined by the ebb and flow of political and economic forces inside the country. The military has controlled government for all but four years since 1966, the exception being the eventful yet short-lived Second Republic of 1979-1983. Military governments have not necessarily affected the formulation and focus of Nigerian foreign policy, but they have had a clear impact on domestic political stability, democracy, and accountability. This has been especially true during the 1990s as the military governments of General Ibrahim Babangida and, after 1993, General Sani Abacha thwarted the transition to civilian rule and governed society in an increasingly repressive manner. In addition, political frustrations have been exacerbated by declining economic conditions, which in turn have inflamed ethnic and religious tensions.

The origins of many of the problems afflicting Nigerian society can be traced back to the colonial era. It was only at the beginning of the twentieth century that Britain formally brought the territory to become known as Nigeria under full colonial control; but a British presence in the region had been there centuries before, initially conflicting with Portuguese and French interests, and then surpassing them.

Nigeria made little sense as a country except to imperial mapmakers. The country was grabbed in the wholesale "Scramble for Africa" at the end of the nineteenth century, when British forces amalgamated many diverse ethnic and re-

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