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Blog Post #4

Hi there everybody and welcome to blog post #4! This week we’ll talk about Nigeria in a more global context.

Nigeria joined the United Nations (UN) in 1960, just a week after it gained independence. At that time, as it is today, states in Africa were struggling to find their way in an increasingly global world. In his speech to the UN general assembly on October 7th, 1960, Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa really hits the nail on the head referring to problems in Africa by saying, “political independence is totally inadequate itself if it is not accompanied by stability and economic security…” [1]. Remember that this speech was given during the Cold War and the US and Soviet Union were interested in backing countries if they followed their political agenda. The Prime Minister had seen how those competing powers had interfered with proxy wars, the neighboring Congo being one of them [2], and said, “The best way for [superpowers] to assist us in reaching maturity is not by ideological propaganda, in whatever form it may be disguised, but by helping us genuinely, with really good will, to develop our resources and to educate our human material up to those standards which are necessary for proper development.” Again, Balewa had some wisdom and sees that a proxy war will not benefit his country—he knew what was going on. As a side note, Balewa was knighted in 1960 by Queen Elizabeth II and also awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Sheffield and New York University. He later lost for re-election and was assassinated in a 1966 coup. Despite its political turmoil, Nigeria was placed on the UN Security Council in 1966 and has been on the committee a total of five times, most recently in 2014-2015 [3].

               Nigeria has been a major contributor to UN policing and peace operations. The country contributed the most peacekeepers to the UN in 2013 but currently contributes only 327 troops [4]. As of 2016, Nigeria was the 14th largest troop contributor and provided a majority of the troops for the UN Liberia mission (UNMIL) [5]. Nigerian UN troops were among the first to arrive in Liberia and the last to leave. Nigeria also made an effort to include more women in their peacekeeping efforts there, fielding 1,500 women out of their 20,000 total. The Guardian says, “UNMIL was established in September 2003 to monitor a ceasefire agreement in Liberia following the resignation of President Charles Taylor and the conclusion of the Second Liberian Civil War.” [6] The mission ended last year. As another side note, although superpowers like the United States and China do not provide many troops for UN peacekeeping, they do provide a majority of the budget [7].

               In 2011, a suicide bomber attacked the UN Offices in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attack. Before this attack, Boko Haram had only focused on domestic targets. The attack killed 15 UN personnel [8].

Chart 2
Bombing of the UN Headquarters in Nigeria. Source:

               Nigeria is also a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), gaining membership in 1961. In August 2000, the country requested IMF financial support and the organization has provided Nigeria with advice and resources. The 2000 program was aimed at reducing inflation and increasing transparency in the use of public resources. The program did not work, but Nigeria decided to keep the IMF around and let it monitor its countries economy. Nigeria’s problems lie in that a large portion of its economy is based on oil. IMF representative in Nigeria, Gary G. Moser, cites that, “when oil prices are high, the government-like any household that receives a windfall-should save for a rainy day.” [9] However, Nigeria has many needs to attend to, causing it to spend much of its money immediately. Hence, it is hit hard by oil price declines. A recent IMF checkup suggests that diversifying the government’s revenue base is “critical” as oil accounts for 40% of the government’s revenue. The chart measures the revenue governments generate from GDP overall and from non-oil sources. Saudi Arabia does not have such a heavy reliance on their oil as Nigeria. In this article, the IMF suggests that Nigeria needs tax reform to collect more taxes. It cites that in only 6 percent of registered corporate taxpayers are active and payment compliance in value added tax ranges between 15-40 percent [10]. If reform happens, the government will be able to provide more public programs for its underserved populous and be less susceptible to changes in oil prices.

Onto our last organization, Nigeria has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1995. A summary of Nigeria’s imports and exports again shows that Nigeria relies very heavily on its oil industry, 91.2% [11]. The country has also signed many regional trade agreements with a majority of south America, countries in northern Africa and central Asia [12]. The country ranks 29th in terms of World GDP, and 142nd in terms of GDP per capita. Nigeria ranks 24th in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) and 137th in terms of PPP per capita [13]. Nigeria’s GINI coefficient is 43, slightly higher than the US’s (US) and in the same ballpark as Argentina’s (44.5) [14].

GINI Coefficient vs Time. Source:

To wrap things up, I’ll summarize an article focusing on Nigeria and South Africa relations. Recent riots in Pretoria and Johannesburg, South Africa erupted aimed at foreign-owned businesses. The riots killed at least 12 people and targeted 1,000 businesses. This has happened before in South Africa, but this time a private airline, Air Peace, has volunteered free flights for Nigerian’s back to their home country. Last Wednesday, 189 Nigerians landed in Lagos with, “some of those onboard punching the air and singing the national anthem while waving pictures of burnt shops.” [15,16]The South African president and police of course do not condone these attacks in any way, and despite outcry from the Nigerian public for retribution, the current president of Nigeria is flying to South Africa this week to discuss a solution to this problem. As with many riots, the violence and disarray seems to be amplified by looting [17].

That’s all for this week! Thanks for reading!




















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