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Thursday, 05 November 2009 00:00

Nigeria at a Glance

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Nigerian Facts - Nigerian Students Union

 

Nigerian Population:
120 million (estimate)

Nigerian Capital:
Abuja

Nigerian Government:
Three-tier structure - A Federal Government, 36 State Governments, 774 Local Government Administrations

Nigerian Official Language:
English

Nigerian Main Indigenous Languages:
Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba

Nigerian Main Religions:
Christianity, Islam, Traditional

Area of Nigeria:
923,766 sq.km.

 Nigerian Currency:
NAIRA and KOBO N1.00 = l00k (one naira = hundred kobo)

Main Commercial/Industrial Cities in Nigeria:
Lagos, Onitsha, Kano, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Aba, Maiduguri, Jos, Kaduna, Warri, Benin,Nnewi

Major Industrial Complexes in Nigeria:
Refineries and Petro-Chemicals: Kaduna, Warri, Port Harcourt, Eleme. Iron and Steel: Ajaokuta, Warri, Oshogbo, Katsina, Jos. Fertilizer: Onne- Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Minna, Kano Liquified Natural Gas : Bonny Aluminium Smelter: Ikot Abasi, Port Harcourt

Nigerian Main Ports:
Lagos (Apapa, Tin-can Island), Warri, Port Harcourt, Onne Deep Sea and Hub Port, Calabar (EPZ)

Nigerian Main Airports:
Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Enugu, Kaduna, Maiduguri, Ilorin, Jos, Owerri, Calabar, Yola, Sokoto

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Nigerian Road Network:
Over 15,000 km of intercity all weather paved roads, including dual carriage express trunks.

Nigerian Railways:
2 main lines (South-West to North-East; South-East to North-West) inter-linked and terminatory at Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kaura Namoda, Maiduguri and Nguru. Major junctions at Kaduna, Kafanchan, Zaria. Gauge: 1067mm; Total length 3505 route km.

Energy in Nigeria:
Hydro-electric: Kainji, Jebba, Shiroro. Thermal and Gas: Egbin (Lagos), Ughelli, Afam, Sapele, National grid for electricity distribution; National pipeline network with regional depots for petroleum products distribution; National network (pipeline) for distribution of gas (under construction)

 

NIGERIAN GEOGRAPHY
Nigeria is situated in the West African region and lies between longitudes 3 degrees and 14 degrees and latitudes 4 degrees and 140 degrees. It has a land mass of 923,768 sq.km. Nigeria is bordered to the north by the Republics of Niger and Tchad. It shares borders to the west with the Republic of Benin, while the Republic of Cameroun shares the eastern borders right down to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean which forms the southern limits of Nigerian Territory. The about 800km of coastline confers on the country the potentials of a maritime power. Land is in abundance in Nigeria for agricultural, industrial and commercial activities.

NIGERIAN CLIMATE
Temperatures across Nigeria is relatively high with a very narrow variation in seasonal and diurnal ranges (22-36t). There are two basic seasons; wet season which lasts from April to October; and the dry season which lasts from November till March. The dry season commences with Harmattan, a dry chilly spell that lasts till February and is associated with lower temperatures, a dusty and hazy atmosphere brought about by the North-Easterly winds blowing from the Arabian peninsular across the Sahara; the second half of the dry season, February - March, is the hottest period of the year when temperatures range from 33 to 38 degrees thisis4centigrade. The extremes of the wet season are felt on the southeastern coast where annual rainfall might reach a high of 330cm; while the extremes of the dry season, in aridity and high temperatures, are felt in the north third of Nigeria.

NIGERIAN VEGETATION

In line with the rainfall distribution, a wetter south and a drier northern half, Nigeria is covered by three types of vegetation: forests (where there is significant tree cover), savannah (insignificant tree cover, with grasses and flowers located between trees), and montane land. (The latter is the least common, and is mainly found in the mountains near the Cameroonian border.)

FORESTS
    Forests are vegetation types or plant formations in which trees are the dominant species. Nigeria has a heavily forested coastal south where humid tropical conditions favour tree growth. Three forest zones can be sub-divided, from the coast inland, viz:
   1. Saline water swamp
   2. Freshwater swamp
   3. Tropical evergreen rainforest.
Saline Water Swamp: This vegetation type is restricted to the coastal strip, which varies in width from less than 1.5km in the Badagry and Lekki peninsula areas to overSOkm in the Sapele area. It is pronounced where the fresh water from the rivers meets and mixes with the salt water from the sea, forming brackish swamps. The low-lying nature of the Nigerian coastal zone allows for the influx of saline water through tidal movements into the lagoons, creeks and extensive brackish wetlands. This has encouraged the growth of different species of mangrove vegetation, typical in the wetlands of the backshore areas.
The mangrove vegetation is a hydromorphic forest type characterised by an entangled dense growth of stems and aerial roots behind the stretch of coconut palms overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. A good example is the Lekki Peninsula area east of Lagos.
Freshwater Swamp Forest: This vegetation belt, on freshwater wetlands, occurs further inland beyond the reach of tidal waters. Here, there is an enormous supply of freshwater from the inland rivers and run-off from abundant rainfall in the area.
The major drainage systems, from west to east, are the Ogun, Benin, Imo, Niger Delta and Cross River, which deposit vast quantities of silt, mud and sandy materials into this area. It is a low-lying region, with hardly any part rising over 30m a.s.l, thus, it facilitates the development of freshwater swamps along the Niger Delta, drowned estuaries, lagoons and creeks.
The intricate network of creeks and lagoons results in inaccessible swamps of forest vegetation in the southern parts. In the northern part are floodplains of sandy accumula- tions, colonised by bush thickets and by tall grasses in the cultivated areas. The most common specie of this vegetation type is the raffia palm (Raffia Hookers) which dominates the swamps. The better-drained areas support oil palm trees {Eleais guineenais) and big trees like Iroko {Chlorophora Exceisa).
The Tropical Evergreen Rainforest: This is a belt of tall trees with dense undergrowth of shorter species dominated by climbing plants. The dominant species of the climbing plants is the lianas which are clustered and entangled in nature, making accessibility and exploitation of big trees very difficult. The prolonged rainy season, resulting in high annual rainfall above 2000mm in this area, ensures adequate supply of water and promotes perennial tree growth. This luxuriant vegetation belt stretches from the western border of Nigeria with Benin Republic, through a narrow stretch on the Niger-Benue river system into the extensive area in the south-east of the country. The narrow stretch on the Niger-Benue river system is due to the northward stretch and influence of the freshwater swamp forest north of the depositional environment of the Niger Delta.
The tropical evergreen rainforest accounts for a great number of plant species classified by their layering structure into three, namely: lower, middle and top layers.
The Lower Layer: This forms the undergrowth where the vegetation is most dense, describing an abundance of herbs, shrubs and some grasses. They are hardly above 10m high as they are con- stantly subjected to destruction through clearing for cultivation. Apart from their climbing nature their development is also stifled by the taller and more luxuriant trees of the middle layer.
The Middle Layer: The tropical evergreen rain 5 forest derives its name from the nature of this layer. 3 The middle layer consists of heavily branched tall trees ranging between 15-30m with well-developed and deep green foliage. The layer's continued exposure to solar energy and prolonged humid conditions account for the hundreds of evergreen plant species. The luxuriant nature of this layer is typified by the interlocking of the tree branches to form an extensive canopy of evergreen foliage.
The Top Layer: When viewed from the air, the extensive canopy of the middle layer is broken by very tall trees in a scattered manner, rather than the closely packed nature of the lower and middle layers. Trees of the top layer have tall straight stems of 50-60m with leaves growing on a few branches at the top of the trees. They thus possess very if striking stems developed over highly buttressed roots.
The top layer accounts for valuable econom ic trees such as the Mahogany, Iroko, Obeche, Sapele Wood and Walnut. They are very widely scattered making exploitation expensive. The prop roots are known to rise some four metres above n ground level in most cases, making felling difficult. The tropical evergreen rainforest belt of Nigeria is characterised by very high human population densities, with agriculture as the primary occupation of the people. The great demand for farmland has led to the destruction of extensive areas of the rainforest. The eastern zone of this belt has virtually been replaced by the oil palm plantation which produces oil, kernel and palm wine for economic purposes, as well as yam, cassava and vegetables, for subsistence. Some of the high rainforest are however still retained in pockets as reserves by the Federal and State governments, or as community bushes.
SAVANNAH
 The word 'Savannah' is an Indian American name which means a grassland area with no forest cover. It has its most extensive belt over the high interior plateau of the African continent. Thus, the term savannah is commonly used to describe areas within the tropics under grass or grass with scattered trees. Savannah vegetation in Nigeria, as in other parts of West Africa, consists of three major belts, from south to north, viz:
        * Guinea Savannah
        * Sudan Savannah; and
        * Sahel Savannah.
One major characteristic of savannah vegetation is that trees vary in size and density from the Guinea, through the Sudan, to the Sahel Savannah.
Guinea Savannah: The Guinea Savannah, located in the middle of the country, is the most extensive vegetation belt in Nigeria, covering near half of the country. It extends from Ondo, Edo, Anambra and Enugu States in the south, through Oyo State to beyond Zaria in Kaduna State. It is a belt of mixture of trees and tall grasses in the south, with shorter grasses and less trees in the north.
This is occasioned by the local climatic conditions of low rainfall and long dry periods. This is in addi- tion to the devastation caused by man through bush clearing for agriculture. This devastation has been observed in the southern part of the Guinea savannah where population density and demand for farm- land are very high. The trees, which are taller and bigger in this area than in the northern part of the Guinea savannah, are easily exploited due to accessibility over the grassland terrain. The term derived savannah is given to its southern portion, which today marks the transition between the two broad groups of vegetation types in Nigeria: the forest in the south and the true savannah in the north. The Guinea savannah, with its typically short trees and tall grasses, is the most luxuriant of the savan- nah vegetation belts in Nigeria.
Sudan Savannah: This vegetation belt is found in the north-west stretching from the Sokoto plains in the west, through the northern sections of the central highland. It spans almost the entire north- ern states bordering the Niger Republic and covers over one quarter of Nigeria's total area. The low annual rainfall of usually less than 1000 mm and the prolonged dry season (6-9 months) sustain fewer trees and shorter grasses than the Guinea savannah. It is characterised by abundant short grasses of 1.5-2m and few stunted trees hardly above 15m.It is by far the most densely human populated zone of northern Nigeria. Thus, the vegetation has undergone severe destruction in the process of clearing land for the cultivation of important economic crops such as cotton, millet, maize and wheat. This is in addition to devastation due to animal husbandry, especially cattle rearing, which is greatly favoured in this belt because the area is relatively free from tse-tse fly. The trees of the Sudan savannah include the acacia, the shea-butter, baobab and the silk cotton.
Sahel Savannah: This is the last vegetational belt to the north of Nigeria with proximity to the fringes of the fast-encroaching Sahara desert. It is located in the extreme north-eastern part of the country, close to Lake Chad, where the dry season lasts for up to 9 months and the total annual rainfall is hardly up to 700mm. It is characterised by very short grasses of not more than one metre high located in-between sand dunes. The area is dominated by several varieties of the acacia and date- palms. The Lake Chad basin, with its seasonally flooded undulating plains, supports a few tall trees. At the same time, the drainage system of rivers and streams into the Lake Chad basin has favoured irri- gation, without which cultivation would be virtually impossible. The increasing aridity in the area accounts for the progressive drying up of the Lake Chad.
The Mountain Vegetation of IsolatedPlateaus:
The mountain vegetation of the isolated high mountains and plateaus of the central and eastern part of Nigeria is not well developed because of the great influence and interference by man and animals. For instance, the Jos plateau, which is one of the highest points in Nigeria, is in a grassland zone, but its vegetation depicts grassland at the top and base of the Plateau, while the slopes, favoured by moisture-laden wind, are covered by forests. These are also true of the Mandara and Adamawa mountains and the Obudu plateau.

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POPULATION & LABOUR FORCE
Nigeria is famous for her huge population of about 120 million people - the largest national population on the African continent. This population is made up of about 374 pure ethnic stocks. Three of them, Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba are the major groups and constitute over 40 per cent of the population. In fact, about 10 ethnic linguistic groups constitute more than 80% of the population: the other large groups are Tiv, Ibibio, Ijaw, Kanuri, Nupe, Gwari, Igala, Jukun, Idoma, Fulani, Edo, Urhobo and Ijaw. The gender divide of Nigeria's population, as indicated by the last census in 1991, reflects an unusual inbalance in favour of male dominance; 51% male: 49% female.

However, the more critical population indices concern

  • High growth rate - 3.2%; this is affected by decreased infant mortality and high fertility.
  • High school age population - over 47% are 15 years and below
  • High child dependency ratio - one dependant to one worker for the working age group 25-65.
  • Large work force - working age group 15-59 is over 40 per cent of the population.

Due to a massive expansion in the education sector in the last two decades, the coloration and quality of the Nigerian work force has changed to include a large corps of highly trained personnel in mechanical, civil, electrical, electronics, chemical and petroleum engineering and biotechnics. There are at present over 30 Federal and State Universities, some of them specialist -Technology and Agriculture. In addition there are at least 20 Federal and State Polytechnics. Over 70,000 graduates in various disciplines from these institutions every year. Disciplines, apart from pure sciences, engineering and technologies, include social sciences, business studies (management, banking and finance), architecture, environment and urban management studies. Also, a sizeable Nigerian population has been and is being trained outside the country, in some of the best colleges in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, Japan and China.

Every year, about 2,000 of these Nigerians return home to seek employment or accommodation within the economy.

For the less skilled and unskilled labour, the country depends on the primary and secondary school systems whose annual enrolments are over 3.5 million and 1.5 million, respectively.

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RESOURCES: AGRICULTURAL, MINERAL AND MARINE
Nigeria, in addition to its huge population is endowed with significant agricultural, mineral, marine and forest resources. Its multiple vegetation zones, plentiful rain, surface water and underground water resources and moderate climatic extremes, allow for production of diverse food and cash crops. Over 60 per cent of the population is involved in the production of the food crops such as cassava, maize, rice, yams, various beans and legumes, soya, sorghum, ginger, onions, tomatoes, melons and vegetable. The main cash crops are cocoa, cotton, groundnuts, oil palm and rubber. Extractions from these for export and local industrial use include cocoa flour and butter, rubber crumb, vegetable oil, cotton fibre and yarn. The rain forests have been well exploited for timber and wood products of exotic and popular species.

Oil and Gas, by value, are the most important minerals. They are exploited and produced in the Niger Delta basin and off-shore on the continental shelf and in the deep-sea of the territorial waters. Nevertheless, there are significant non-oil mineral deposits on land many of which have been identified and evaluated: coal, iron ore, gypsum, kaolin, phosphates, lime -stone, marble, columbine, baryte and gold.

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GOVERNMENT
The Federal Republic of Nigeria consists of thirty-six states, and the administrative headquarters and capital city is Abuja located in the Federal Capital Territory, which is geographically situated in the middle of the country.

Effective participation in governance by all adults is assured through the sharing of powers, revenue and responsibilities between the three tiers of government, i.e. the Federal Government, the State Governments and the various Local and Municipal Councils of the federation.

THE ECONOMY
With a population of over 120 million people, Nigeria is obviously the largest market in sub Saharan Africa with reasonably skilled and potential manpower for the efficient and effective management of investment projects within the country. It is well connected by a wide network of motorable all-season roads, railway tracks, inland waterways, maritime and air transportation.

Nigeria's economy could be aptly described as most promising. It is a mixed economy and accommodates all corners, individuals, corporate organisations and government agencies, to invest in almost all range of economic activities. Since 1995, the Government has introduced some bold economic measures, which have had a salutary effect on the economy by halting the declining growth in the productive sectors and putting a stop to galloping inflation; they have reduced the debt burden, stabilised the exchange rate of the Naira and corrected the balance of payments disequilibrium.

In the 1995 and 1996 budgets, Government put in place some fiscal measures, which addressed the exchange rate regime and the capital flight issue, which hitherto inhibited project planning and execution. The policy of expanded production through guided deregulation paid off in 1996 when the economy recorded a real growth of 3.2% of GDP The rate of inflation declined appreciably from the high seventies to the low twenties.

HEALTH
Prior to 1999, the major problem of the health sector in Nigeria was identified to be the mortality rate among women and children due to preventable diseases, undernourishment, communication of under five years, as well as inadequate and decaying health facilities. These problems were further compounded, over the years, by inadequate funding, due to competing needs of other sectors such as education, housing, agriculture etc.

However, the Obasanjo Administration rose to the occasion to stem the tide. The National Program on Immunization was established to take care of the high mortality rate among children, and eradicate communicable and vaccine-preventable diseases, and it has been highly successful. Specific days of the year have been set aside by the Government, during which health officials go from house to house to immunize children against major childhood diseases. Moreover, the immunizations are readily available at various hospitals and health centers, at no cost to parents. The Government is being assisted in this regard by many Non-Governmental Organizations and International Agencies. The Rotary International, for example has committed millions of dollars to the project known as “Kick Polio out of Africa” campaign, the positive result of which has been tremendous.

Other measures the Government has taken to enhance the quality of health of Nigerians are the establishment of the National Action Committee on Aids (NACA) to combat the HIV/AIDS scourge, the National Foods and Drugs Administration Commission (NAFDAC) which has brought international recognition to Nigeria. The Government has equally set up the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which is designed to make health-care affordable for all citizens by making everyone contribute to the healthcare system, instead of putting the whole burden on Government, as it is the case currently. The scheme will soon be operational.

To sustain improvements in health-care delivery, attention is being paid to the expansion and strengthening of the primary health care system throughout the country. Family and reproductive health services are being strengthened, with particular emphasis on fighting HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases, as well as malaria. Rehabilitation of strategic Teaching and Specialist Hospitals are also on-going.

MAIN THRUST OF NIGERIA'S TRADE AND INDUSTRIALISATION POLICY

business10Nigeria's current industrial policy thrust is anchored on a guided dc-regulation of the economy and Government's dis-engagement from activities which are private-sector oriented, leaving Government to play the role of facilitator, concentrating on the provision of incentives policy and infrastructure that are necessary to enhance the private sector's role as the engine of growth. The industrial policy is intended to:

  • generate productive employment and raise productivity;
  • increase export of locally manufactured goods;
  • create a wider geographical dispersal of industries;
  • improve the technological skills and capability available in the country;
  • increase the local content of industrial output by looking inward for the supply of basic and intermediate inputs;
  • attract direct foreign investment;
  • increase private sector participation.

The Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Acts which hitherto regulated the extent and limits of foreign participation in diverse sectors of the economy were repealed in 1995. The principal laws regulating foreign investments now are, the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Decree and the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Decree, both enacted in 1995.

Given the need to stabilize the banking and finance sectors, and promote confidence in these vital institutions, the Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks decrees of 1994 were put in place. The Investment and Securities Decree was also promulgated to update and consolidate capital market laws and regulations into a single code.

Under the Privatisation and Commercialisation law of 1988, the government successfully sold its holdings in industrial enterprises and financial institutions, and such divestments were made by way of "Offers for Sale" on the floors of the Exchange, so that ultimate shareholdings in such enterprises could be widespread. However, government retained full control of the public utility service corporations.

The 1997 Budget proposed the repeal of all existing laws that inhibit competition in certain sectors of the Nigeria economy. Consequently, with the promulgation of the Public Enterprises Promotion and Commercialisation Decree in 1998, private sector investors (including non-Nigerians) will now be free to participate in and compete with government-owned public utility service corporations in the areas of telecommunications, electricity generation, exploration of petroleum, export refineries, coal and bitumen exploration, hotel and tourism.

As a policy objective, the liberalization and deregulation of the exchange control regime is designed to facilitate and enhance trading activities. Items on the import prohibition list have been drastically reduced, with government opting to utilise tariff structures to protect end-user product pricing of local industries and discourage frivolous imports. In 1998, the import prohibition list was reduced to 11 items namely: maize, sorghum, millet, wheat flour, vegetable oils (excluding linseed and castor oils used as industrial raw materials), barytes and bentonites, gypsum, mosquito repellent coils, domestic articles and wares made of plastic materials (excluding babies' feeding bottles), retreaded / used tyres, gaming machines.

 

Some references from http://www.nigeriaembassyusa.org and http://www.wikipedia.org

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