Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria is the world’s tenth-largest producer of oil but 70 per cent of its 160 million people survive on less than US$2 a day.
Despite a transition from military rule in 1999, national mismanagement and corruption have limited basic services to Nigeria’s people.
Oil money (nicknamed Nigeria’s ‘curse in disguise’) has suppressed investment in other economic activities such as trading and food production.
Nigeria has more than 400 ethnic groups and large Christian and Muslim populations. Poverty, unemployment and competition for land are inflaming ethno-religious tensions.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed since 1999 and many more displaced – one of the world’s highest casualty rates from internal conflict, despite no civil war.
Rural communities suffer unequal access to water, healthcare and education – and seasonal rains mean farmers go hungry for part of the year. Soil erosion is causing desertification and land disputes as Hausa-Fulani herdsmen are forced south.
Ignorance and stigma are advancing HIV and deterring those at risk from seeking medical advice. Though access to anti-retroviral drugs has risen, drug-resistant strains of HIV have developed.
Meanwhile, women have a restricted role in society as a result of 12 states imposing Sharia law.
The Islamic extremist sect Boko Haram, that has as its goal the full implementation of Sharia law in Nigeria, has attacked and bombed police stations, churches and government institutions in Maiduguri, Damaturu, Potiskum, Kaduna, Jos, Kano and Abuja since 2002.
Hundreds of people have been killed by Boko Haram and this has greatly increased insecurity and instability in the country.