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Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa with a population of 189m people and more than 250 ethnic groups. Since 1999 Nigeria has had a democratic government which has brought the country comparable stability, with significant economic benefits and an up rise in general living conditions. The high levels of GDP achieved since 1999 are highly reliant on the country’s main export, oil. When the oil price dips, the Nigerian economy suffers, as the economy has struggled to diversify.
Nigeria has a number of insurgencies operating in the country, namely the Niger Delta militants and Boko Haram to the north. These have persisted for a considerable length of time and Nigeria has been unable to destroy the groups. The government also faces the growing challenge of preventing Nigeria from breaking apart along ethnic and religious lines.
President Buhari elected in March 2015 became the first opposition candidate to win a Nigerian presidential poll. Burhari, a former military commander, has distanced himself from former military rule, with the intent of governing as a democratically elected leader. However there have been major concerns over his health.
Crime is a risk throughout Nigeria, however visitors can recue their vulnerability by taking normal security procedures, making oneself less of a target. Crime for personal gain is the motive for the majority of crime focused towards private business and individuals in southern Nigeria. Common crimes include violent armed robberies, kidnap for ransom, and fraud. The mainland of Lagos has experienced periodic, violent clashes among localised street gangs known as ‘Area Boys’. Expatriates and visitors have experienced armed muggings, assaults, burglaries, carjackings, rapes, kidnappings, and extortion.
Home invasions remain a serious threat with armed robbers threatening even guarded compounds by scaling perimeter walls, following residents/visitors, or subduing guards to gain entry. Armed robbers in Lagos have invaded waterfront compounds and businesses by boat, using the Lagos waterway as a means of escape. Nigerians and other expatriates have been victims of armed robbery at banks and grocery stores and on airport roads during all hours. Armed robbers have targeted occupants in vehicles; smash-and-grab robberies are common with thieves canvassing stopped vehicles for valuables. Thieves will break the vehicle’s window or simply reach in and grab items while a vehicle is stopped. Expatriates should cooperate if approached by an armed robber/carjacker.
Individuals should be wary of business offers promising large payoffs for little/no investment. Visitors are also advised not to use personal checks, credit cards, or ATMs. Due to the proliferation of identity and financial fraud, individuals should not carry unnecessarily detailed information about themselves and their finances.
Throughout the Niger Delta region, several militant groups actively target oil pipeline infrastructure and personnel of international oil companies, including those of several major international companies.
Various high profiles national security agencies have deemed Lagos to be a high risk area for terrorism and political violence for foreign nationals.
A significant terrorist threat exists, particularly in northern Nigeria. Islamic State-aligned Boko Haram is suspected of or has claimed responsibility for most of the terrorist activity in Nigeria. Boko Haram carried out kidnappings, killings, bombings, and attacks on civilian and military targets, resulting in over 6,000 deaths, injuries, and significant destruction of property in 2014 and 2015. Boko Haram is widely believed to be the group responsible for a December 2014 prison break in Ekiti State and a bomb attack at an oil depot in Apapa, Lagos State. Separatist aspirations have also been growing and the imposition of Islamic law in several northern states has embedded divisions and caused thousands of Christians to flee.
In 2016, Boko Haram divided into two factions. One faction affiliated itself with ISIS in West Africa, and the other remained loyal to its historical leadership. In the areas surrounding Lagos, news outlets reported the arrest of several Boko Haram members, but no attacks.
The threat of terrorism continues to challenge business activity and travel throughout Nigeria.
The last couple of years have been difficult for Nigeria due to a halving of oil prices between 2014 and 2017. The decreased oil revenues reduced investment across the entire economy and in increase of government debt. These factors led to Nigeria’s first recession for 25 years in 2016.
The government, which was voted into office in 2015, has made a number of moves to stoke a recovery, with some success. Comprehensive efforts to make the economy less reliant on natural resources include, manufacturing, industrialisation and a shakeup on imports and exports.
Comprising major food and consumer staples producers, Africa’s largest cement manufacturers, and a handful of heavy industries and light manufacturing, Nigeria has a diversified industrial sector. According to data from the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), the country is home to the largest manufacturing sector on the continent and, along with Egypt, South Africa and Morocco, it accounts for two-thirds of the continent’s manufacturing in nominal US dollar terms. Given the potential of the industrial sector for both employment and revenues, the government is hoping to stoke further growth. The potential Nigeria offers as an industrial producer is not in any doubt, and the long-term advantages are sizeable, but so too are the challenges. As a result, the stabilisation of the macroeconomic situation offers some short-term hope. The long-term promise, however, is significant given the country’s vast array of inputs, such as natural gas, metals and agricultural commodities, as well as a domestic market of 189m people and duty-free access to another 120m consumers within ECOWAS.
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