Nigeria. According to the government, Nigeria's economy was
good: inflation was manageable, the foreign exchange
reserves had more than quadrupled in one year and oil
revenues increased. However, the World Bank found that
neither income nor consumption was relatively higher than in
the early 1970s. The World Bank calculated with a more than
25% higher external debt than stated by the government and
with a growth of only 3.5% instead of the government's 5.5%.
Per capita GDP fell from $ 1,160 to 260 in 1980-97, making
Nigeria one of the world's 20 poorest countries.
Countryaah, oil accounted for 90% of N's export revenue, but
according to the World Bank, 10% was cut. In 1997, Nigeria
experienced periods of fuel shortages due to strikes,
technical problems and acute financial difficulties for the
state oil company NNPC. During the summer, the company could
not afford to maintain production. The economic crisis also
affected new prospecting and maintenance of facilities.
Interest in the return to a parliamentary system
controlled by the military junta was limited. The five
parties approved by the military were unopposed. After the
municipal elections in March, the state elections were held
in December with very low participation. There was much to
indicate that the junta leader Sani Abacha was planning to
run for office in the 1998 presidential election. Pending
the announcement, no one else dared to show interest. In
November, Abacha reformed the government and promised to
release some political prisoners, which were interpreted as
an attempt to gain popularity.
Several explosive attacks and armed clashes between
different ethnic groups reinforced the image of a country in
social crisis. Nigeria remained excluded from the Community in
the English-speaking Commonwealth and made a close encounter
with the French-speaking countries.
Imprisoned General Shehu Musa Yar'Adua died in December
under unclear circumstances. He was sentenced to 25 years in
prison for participating in an alleged coup attempt in 1995.
Shortly after his death, twelve people, including the
military junta's second-ranger General Oladipo Diya, were
arrested for a new coup attempt.
In June, Nigerian music's biggest star, Fela
Anikulapo-Kuti, died as well known for his opposition to the
country's many military junta as for his music. In October,
88-year-old veteran politician Michael Ajasin, leader of the
opposition group National Democratic Coalition (NADECO)
In June 2001, violence broke out in the state of
Nasarawa, bordering the capital. The occasion was the death
of an Azara leader, and it sparked a fierce conflict between
the Azaras and the Tiv minority. 40,000 were displaced as a
result of the conflict.
Murtullah Mohammed was head of government during the
military dictatorships and had spent hundreds of millions in
the 1970s. US $ on a plan prepared by a small unknown North
American company. The plan was to hang telephone cables in
huge balloons to be sent 7 km up into the atmosphere. A
single balloon was never launched and what happened to the
money remains unknown, but today only 1 in every 300
Nigerians still has a telephone - a privilege reserved for a
small minority of 400,000 people. Telephone wires rarely
come over shoulder height and the system is so old and
poorly maintained that just having a conversation within the
same city can take an entire day.
In August 2001, the telephone system was so miserable
that even the ministers' international conversation was
interrupted without prior warning. The country's two largest
mobile telephony companies, Johannesburg MTN and Wireless
Econet, then declared that they would implement a
"revolution" in the telephone system, but the frequent power
cuts and the overload of the electricity network mean that
the companies have to equip all their transmitters with
emergency power systems. At the same time, each of the
companies must pay DKK 285 million. US $ to the government
in licensing fees. According to data from Transparancy
International, Nigeria is the world's second most corrupt
country, surpassed only by Bangladesh.
In October, President Obasanjo, together with South
Africa's Thabo Mbeki and Algeria's Abdelaziz Bouteflika,
launched the New Partnership for Africa Development (New
Partnership for Africas Development, NEPAD), which will
involve the rest of the world in supporting Africa's
development. NEPAD obliges African states to stand up for
open government, respect human rights and bring to an end
the armed conflicts, in return for increased development
assistance and to raise the barriers to trade that African
export goods encounter outside the continent.
In the past few years, Islamic Sharia law has been
introduced in dozens of Muslim states, which has sparked
widespread debate and violent protests. The law requires
stoning as punishment for adultery, amputation of limbs for
theft and whipping for minor offenses such as consuming
alcohol and sexual relationships before marriage. In January
2002, a man was hanged in the state of Katsina. He thus
became the first to be punished with death since the
introduction of Sharia.
In October, the Hague International Court handed down its
verdict in the Nigeria-Cameroon border dispute. The verdict
affirmed Cameroon's sovereignty over the Bakassi Peninsula.
The Nigerian government announced that it would conduct a
detailed study of the judgment and that it would defend its
right to the area. Only in August 2003 did the government
announce that it abandoned the demand for Bakassi.