Foreign policy and defense
With Africa's largest population and extensive
oil resources, Nigeria has the potential to be a great
power to be reckoned with. The focus of foreign policy
has been primarily on the region, where Nigeria
advocates independence, unity, conflict resolution and
The internal contradictions have to some extent
prevented Nigeria from realizing its potential. During
the 1993–1998 military dictatorship of Sani Abacha, the
outside world was distancing itself, mainly because of
human rights violations. EU and US imposed sanctions and
Commonwealth (UK and its former colonies) shut down
Nigeria from cooperation (see Modern History). The
return to civilian rule in 1999 strengthened Nigeria
internationally; among other things, the country resumed
its role in the Commonwealth. Nigeria's governors want
to give the country a place on the world map, in the
hope that it can strengthen Nigerian national cohesion.
Nigeria envisages, among other things, a permanent place
in the UN Security Council if the Council expands. The
Western world, not least the United States, would like
to strengthen relations in view of Nigeria's large oil
resources. China and other countries are also showing
increasing interest in the country's natural resources.
Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Nigeria for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
In West Africa, Nigeria is already a great power. The
country took the initiative to establish the West
African Economic Cooperation Organization Ecowas in
1975. Nigeria dominated the Ecowas peacekeeping force
Ecomog, which was formed to be deployed in the Liberian
War of 1990 and which was also deployed in Sierra Leone
and Guinea-Bissau. The peace operations in Liberia and
Sierra Leone, also managed by the UN, cost Nigeria
billions of dollars and the lives of at least 1,000
Peace surveillance in the region has subsequently
been undertaken by the African Union (AU) and the UN.
With West Africa's largest army, Nigeria has
participated in interventions in Darfur in Sudan from
2004, in Guinea-Bissau in 2012 and in Mali in 2013.
Relations with neighboring countries are
predominantly good, but an old border conflict with
Cameroon in the 1990s led to military clashes. The
conflict mainly affected the small mangrove-covered
Bakassi peninsula in the Gulf of Guinea, where there is
probably oil. The International Court of Justice in The
Hague ruled in 2002 the issue of Bakassi Peninsula,
mainly for Cameroon's benefit. Nigeria delayed but
withdrew its troops from the peninsula in 2006 and
formally surrendered it to Cameroon in 2008. Many of the
peninsula's nearly 300,000 residents consider themselves
Nigerians, and at least a third are reported to have
moved to Nigeria in recent years.
The border crossing in the oil-rich Guinea Bay has
also previously caused conflicts with Equatorial Guinea
and São Tomé & Príncipe, but they were resolved in 2002.
The threat from militant Islamists has prompted a new
security cooperation with Benin, Cameroon, Niger and
Chad. The Boko Haram terror group, which was initially
only in Nigeria, began to perform in 2014 in neighboring
countries as well, and emerged more and more as a
regional threat that was seen as "West Africa's
al-Qaeda". The countries agreed on joint military
operations, exchange of intelligence tasks and
cooperation with arms smuggling. Several Western powers
as well as the UN and the AU also pledged support in the
fight against the Islamists. In early 2015, the AU
approved plans for an international force of up to
10,000 men to fight militant Islamism, headquartered in
Chad's capital N'Djamena.
Nigeria's armed forces amount to around 80,000 men.
About the same number are part of a semi-military
security force. Military service is optional.
FACTS - DEFENSE
100,000 men (2017)
The air Force
10,000 men (2017)
8,000 men (2017)
Military expenditure's share of GDP
0.4 percent (2017)
Military spending's share of the state budget
4.1 percent (2017)
Protest march for independent Biafra
More than 100 people have been arrested after the demonstration in Enugu city
and charged with treason.
The army is accused of abuse
Amnesty International accuses the security forces of going hard against the
civilian population in the search for Boko Haram. According to Amnesty, the army
is behind several cases of extrajudicial executions, "disappearances" and
torture, mainly in the northeast. Reports come from residents of massacres with
dozens of dead. The army rejects the charges.
Okah in court in South Africa
The former Mend leader is accused of terrorism in connection with Nigeria's
50th anniversary celebration (see October 2010). Okah has South African
citizenship and therefore the trial against him must be held in South Africa.
Hajj flights are stopped
Nigeria stops all flights for Nigerians who want to join the pilgrimage to
Mecca, since Saudi Arabia rejected 170 Nigerian women who arrived without male
companionship. In the past, Nigeria has been exempted from the requirement that
all female hajj participants must have male escorts.
Bloody violence in Plateau
Over 100 people, mainly Christians, are killed in two days in the state. The
Muslim folk group Fulani is identified. There has long been dissatisfaction
among Fulani against Christian political dominance in the state. After a few
days, Boko Haram is said to have been behind the attacks.
Oil company executives kicked
Jonathan dismisses several of NNPC's top executives, including the company's
CEO. The measures come after a report on widespread fraud and embezzlement,
published in April.
The defense minister and national security adviser kicked
President Jonathan acts as a result of the unrest in the north.
Over 100 killed in Kaduna and Damataru
Anti-Muslim riots break out after blast attacks on three churches in Kaduna,
and in Damataru, fighting erupts between Boko Haram and security forces. The
weeks before, several attacks and riots have claimed lives elsewhere in northern
About 40 people are killed by a car bomb in Kaduna. Boko Haram, who
threatened to strike during the Christian holidays, is suspected of the act.
Later in the month, up to 20 were killed in an attack on a university in Kano
and a dozen in a suicide attack against a vehicle column in Jalingo, in the
state of Taraba.
Dialogue rejected by Boko Haram
Jonathan has called on the Islamist group's representatives to come forward
and explain what they want, but they reject the invitation since police shot
eleven members of the group in Maiduguri.
The Chief of Police is dismissed
He must go so that a suspected instigator of the mass murders during
Christmas could escape detention. All six deputy managers may also go.
Coordinated blast attacks in Kano
At least 185 people are killed in the big city in the north. Boko Haram
claims to have carried out the attacks because the authorities have refused to
release imprisoned members of the organization.
Gasoline prices more than doubled
The abolition of fuel subsidies triggered strikes and protests that paralyze
parts of the country, and several people are shot to death. The president is
forced to partially reintroduce the subsidies, after which a announced general
strike is suspended.