Nigeria. The unrest in the oil-producing Niger Delta
declined since President Umaru Yar'Adua in June repeated an
offer of amnesty to the rebels who have attacked oil
facilities for several years, leading to significantly
reduced production. According to
countryaah, the government released rebel group MEND
(Nigerian Liberation Movement) leader Henry Okah, who has
been incarcerated since being expelled from Angola in 2008,
after publicly renouncing the violence. MEND first responded
to the offer by, for the first time, attacking a facility in
Lagos, Nigeria's largest city, far away from the normal
operation area of the operation. Then the rebels began to
give up their weapons. Despite often contradictory messages
from the loosely organized movement, a large majority of
members appeared to have given up the fight in the fall.
In November, the European Commission allocated
approximately SEK 7 billion to development projects in
Nigeria. The money will mainly be devoted to peace building
in the Niger Delta, fighting corruption and strengthening
human rights. In July, Nigeria signed an agreement with
Niger and Algeria to build a pipeline for Nigerian gas
through the Sahara to Europe. A number of foreign companies
showed interest in the project, which was estimated to cost
about USD 13 billion.
In June, Shell's oil company settled in favor with
relatives of activists from the Ogoni people who were
executed in 1995 by the then military regime. The relatives
had sued Shell before a court in the United States, and the
settlement was closed the week before the case would have
been filed there. The Ogony group accused Shell of
participating in murders, torture and other abuses in the
Niger Delta. The company denied debt but agreed to pay $
15.5 million in damages as a "reconciliation gesture".
As unrest worsened in the south, another conflict flared
up in the north, where violent fighting was fought in July
and August between militant Islamists and the security
forces. Mainly, it was members of a Taliban-like movement
called Boko Haram (roughly Western education is a sin) that
attacked police stations after several of its leaders had
been arrested for information that they had begun to arm
themselves. After great efforts by the police and extra
military, hundreds of members could be arrested and a few
hundred women and children who kept the movement captive
were released. About 800 people were killed, most Islamists,
during the fighting week. Among those killed was the group's
founder Muhammad Yusuf, who was shot dead at a police
station after being arrested.
In August, the heads of five of the country's largest
banks were dismissed after they were revealed to have
granted gigantic loans on loose grounds. Among those who
took out virtually unsecured loans were companies, state
governments and several of Nigeria's richest people. The
central bank saved the banks with a crisis package of US $
2.6 billion for not collapsing, which could have thrown the
entire banking system in the country.
Just before Christmas, an opposition politician turned to
a federal court with a request that it decide whether
President Umaru Yar'Adua is capable of leading the country.
Yar'Adua has been cared for at the end of November in a
hospital in Saudi Arabia.
Foreign policy and international relations
By virtue of its position as Africa's most populous
country, as well as its economic and military strength,
Nigeria has been regarded as Africa's great power, and has
taken aim at being a leading player in African and global
politics. Nigeria was one of the leaders in the
international fight against apartheid in the 1970s and
1980s, advocating the development of its own nuclear
weapons, as a counterweight to South Africa's nuclear
capabilities. In 2008, a cooperation agreement was signed
with Iran on the development of nuclear power. Nigeria has
also envisaged holding a possible African seat in the UN
However, the actions of the military junta after 1993 led
to the country becoming very isolated, and South Africa,
itself a potential rival to the post of Africa's most
powerful country, led an international campaign to boycott
Nigeria. As a result of the reintroduction of democratic
governance, Nigeria has regained some of its position as an
African political superpower, including in collaboration
with South Africa.
Since the 1990s, Nigeria has been very active as a driver
and participant in peace operations especially in West
Africa, primarily through the ECOWAS collaborative
organization in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and
Ivory Coast, but also through the OAU in Chad and through
the AU in Sudan (Darfur), among other things, to protect its
regional hegemony and demonstrate its superpower position.
Nigeria has also participated in a number of UN operations,
including in Congo, Lebanon, Namibia, Mozambique,
at Balkans, in Rwanda, Burundi, Eritrea / Ethiopia, Sudan,
Haiti, Nepal and Somalia. President Obasanjo, as chairman of
the AU, played a key role in mediating between the parties
to the conflict in South Sudan.
Nigeria has traditionally had close relations with the
West, especially the United Kingdom and the United States.
Relations with France have been more measured, not least as
a result of the French recognition of the state of Biafra.
As a regional power, Nigeria has sought to reduce France's
influence in the region, including through military
initiatives through both OAU and ECOWAS.
After the reintroduction of democracy, relations with the
United States have improved significantly. Nigeria has
entered into military cooperation with the United States, as
well as with Israel, India and China. In 2007, China
assisted Nigeria in sending the country's first commercial
With neighboring Cameroon, there has been a tense
relationship on some occasions, especially after a
Cameroonian annexation of Nigerian fishing villages and
border violations by Cameroonian forces. In 1994, there was
a tense situation when a dispute over the Bakassi Peninsula
(in an area rich in oil, gas and fish) led to troop
gatherings at the border. In 2002, the International
Criminal Court (ICC) upheld Cameroon's demand for Bakassi,
which was handed over to Cameroon in 2008. A demarcation of
the border with Cameroon on the Chad was completed in 2003,
causing Nigeria to surrender 33 villages to Cameroon.
In 2004, Nigeria and São Tomé signed an agreement on
joint extraction of disputed border areas, which are
believed to contain significant oil and gas deposits.