History

Election participantsCitizens participate in voter education. Photo: UNDP Nigeria

Nigeria gained independence from Britain in October 1960. After going from one military coup to another, Nigeria now has an elected leadership. At the return to civil rule in 1999, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was elected President for two terms (1999-2007). He was succeeded by Alhaji Umar Yar’Adua (2007-2010).

Dr. Goodluck Jonathan inherited the presidency in May 2010 on the death of his predecessor, Alhaji Yar’Adua, and went on to win elections in April 2011. The People's Democratic Party (PDP) has led the political scene at the Federal level since the return to civilian rule in 1999.

Challenges

Political liberalisation was ushered in by the return to civilian rule in 1999. But the government faces the growing challenge of preventing Africa's most populous country from breaking apart along ethnic and religious lines. The country also faces the challenge of poverty alleviation: more than half of its people live in poverty.

Nigeria is one of the world's largest oil producers, but the industry has produced some unwanted side effects like the trade in stolen crude oil which fuelled violence in the oil-producing Niger Delta region. The government has also been tackling the issue of corruption, which has been a major challenge over the years. UNDP and other development partners are cooperating with the Nigerian authorities in addressing these challenges.

Successes

On the political front, the transition from military dictatorship to democratic rule has been acclaimed as one of the major successes of Nigeria in the last decade. The 2011 general election, supported by UNDP and its partners, was widely acknowledged by international observers and domestic monitors as one of the freest and fairest elections conducted in the country in recent years.
 
Nigeria is Africa's leading oil producer. The government is striving to boost the economy, which experienced an oil boom in the 1970s and is once again benefiting from high prices on the world market. The Federal Government is also boosting agriculture through its Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), also supported by UNDP and its partners.
At the international level, Nigeria plays a prominent role in African affairs. The country is also a major contributor to the UN’s global peace keeping efforts.