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Called the Giant of Africa on the account of her size, variegated and rich culture, limitless business opportunities as well as a long-term relevance in the global diplomatic arena, Nigeria enjoys a rich history. A former colony of the United Kingdom, the country fought and won a well-deserved independence on October 1, 1960.

Thus, the Federal Republic of Nigeria came about three years later, on October 1, 1963. Prior to her independence, the country had been an amalgam of two protectorates - the Northern and Southern protectorates. Nigeria was formally amalgamated on January 1, 1914 and the name Nigeria carved from one of the two main rivers (the Niger and the Benue) which bisect the new country into nearly two equal parts as they flow from the northward part and empty into the Atlantic, through the marshy Niger Delta.

Nigeria is active in the international diplomacy, where it boasts of membership and sometime active leadership of virtually all-international organizations.

Not only is she a member of bodies such as the United Nations Organisation (UNO), World Health Organization (WHO), commonwealth of Nations, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), among many other, she has always provided quality leaders for some of these Organisations or their agencies.

To Nigeria's credit is her leadership role in the emancipation of African states from colonial imperialism, her provision of Chief Emeka Anyaoku as past Secretary General of the Commonwealth as well as Dr. Rilwanu Lukman as the longest serving Secretary General of OPEC.

Some of her notable citizens are: Africa's first Nobel Laureate (in Literature), Professor Wole Soyinka, Dr. Philip Emegwali, the world acclaimed computer whiz kid.

Geography and Location

Nigeria is situated almost at the center of the curve on the map of the African continent. Standing tall and almost equidistant to the North, South and East of the continent, no wonder Nigeria acts almost as a natural pull to all political, social and economic underpinning of the African continent.

To the educational and cultural heartbeat of French West Africa, Nigeria is just a few hours away; ditto to Tripoli, the Libyan capital and Algiers, the Algerian capital. To the Southern axis of Africa, Nigeria's location is almost like a stretch of the arm and this may explain also her frontline role in the dismantling of the apartheid regime in virtually all the countries of southern Africa.

Nigeria lies between 4 and 13 degrees East longitude and 40 and 14 degrees North latitude. She occupies a land mass totaling 923, 800 sq.km (357,000sq.miles). In comparison to the United Kingdom, Nigeria is 4 times larger and this size is equal to the states of Texas, Alabama, Indiana and Delaware put together. The average population density is about 96 persons per square kilometer (96 persons/sq.km).

Bounded in the South by the Atlantic Ocean, Nigeria shares borders with Benin Republic; 773km to the West, the semi-arid country of Niger; 1, 497 km to the North and the sub-equatorial Cameroun; 1,6790 km to the east.

Climate and Weather

Nigeria derives her climate from the fact of her being on 4-degrees and 14-degrees latitude north, which puts her south of the path of the north Westerly winds and almost outside the southern equatorial doldrums. Directly facing the sea to the south and the desert to the north is also obvious. This is because of her lying within the tropics.

Therefore, the climate is dominated by two seasons viz: DRY SEASON - from November to April/ May; and WET/RAINY SEASON - from May/June to October. There is an unsteady period of break in August / September during which the rain may stop or reduce in intensity. Therefore, the country enjoys abundant rainfall in the south and semi-arid climate up-north.

Rainfall varies from the south upward to the north. In the Niger Delta and most of the coastal area, it is an equatorial climate, becoming tropical in the middle belt and arid in the north. Temperatures vary between 23 degrees and 31 degrees Centigrade in the south, with high humidity; between 18 degrees and 40 degrees Centigrade in the north; the Jos Plateau and the eastern highlands could experience a maximum temperature not exceeding 28 degrees and 14 degrees Centigrade minimum.

Vegetation & Physical Features

Nigeria has two broad types of vegetation, namely: Forests and Savannah. Within each of these are three sub-groups of vegetation.

A third vegetation type, called Montana types vegetation, is typical of Adamawa and Jos Plateau. The vegetation zones, climatic regions and annual precipitation are on almost equal parallels, showing the degree of interdependence or the influence of climate and precipitation on vegetation belts.

Salt Water Swamp:

This vegetation type is found in the coastal strip, some 50 kilometers wide. In this belt is the swampy, water logged soil and brackish water. Here, the fresh water from inland empties into the Atlantic, thus getting polluted and saline. The vegetation is made up of a tangled mass of stems and aerial root called mangrove Swamp.

Fresh Water Swamp:

Further inland the tidal influence reduces and the water becomes less saline, giving way to fresh water swamps. This belt covers the area between Lagos to around Port Harcourt. Here the common species of fresh water swamp type of vegetation are raffia palm.

The Rain Forest:

Stretching from the western boundary of Nigeria southeastwards around Ibadan and Benin up to Oban Hills is this belt, also known as the High Forest. About 150 kilometers in width but narrow around the Niger due to northward extension of the fresh water swamps, this vegetation belt is supported by high annual rainfall of about 150 centimeters and a long wet season. In this belt is found different species of tall, densely packed trees, parasites, climbers, etc.

The Guinea Savanna

Occupying nearly half of Nigeria, the Guinea savanna is the broadest vegetational zone in the count. It stretches around the middle of the country in areas where there is between 100-150 centimeters annual rainfall and west season of between 6 to 8 months. Here we can see parkland savanna, gallery forest and derived savanna.

Sudan Savanna

Found in the northern extreme of the country in places like the Sokoto plains of Hausa and up to the Chad Basin, this vegetation zone covers about a quarter of the country. Here, the total annual rainfall is between 65 and 100 centimeter, with relative humidity below 40 per cent and very few months of wetness when humidity may rise to about 60 per cent. Here we can see parkland savanna, gallery forest and derived savanna.

Sahel Savanna

This vegetation zone occurs in the approaches to the desert fringes in the north-eastern axis of the country. Here annual rainfall is less than 65 centimeters and dry season is more than eight months in duration, with the air perpetually dry and a very brief wet season of not more than two months. The vegetation consists of little grass that is less than a meter in height and a lot of sand dunes.

Political Environment

Prior to the adoption of the American Presidential system of government in May 1979, Nigeria had operated the British parliamentary System of government since she became an independent sovereign state. With the Presidential system which still subsists to date, there is an Executive President, leading the Executive arm of government, the National Assembly where the Upper House (Senate) is headed by the Senate President and the Lower house by the Speaker.

The Federal System is completed with a free judiciary. At the state level, this arrangement is replicated by the office of an Executive Governor but only one House of Assembly doing legislative duties. Nigeria currently has a 36- state structure with the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) being centrally located at Abuja. There are 774 Local Government Areas (Councils) each of which has an Executive Chairman as well as a number of councilors. Nigeria is expected to hold general election in 2007.

All elected officers including the president would be expected to contest. Nigeria is a Federal state with the Federal Government maintaining healthy relations with such bodies like the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the Commonwealth of Nations, the Group of Eight Countries (G-8), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and other friendly Sovereign states.

In Africa, Nigeria has shown panache in the area of responsive and responsible leadership on the continent; always ready to help in crisis resolution and maintenance of peace, even in the global arena where she had earned the approval of the United Nations on several occasions.

Population /Human Resources

At an estimated 120 million people, Nigeria remains the most populous nation in Africa and certainly a main pull for people of Africa descent in the diaspora. It has the largest concentration of black people compared to anywhere in the world, hence it is widely held that "...one out of every four black persons is a Nigerian."

Her population, compared to the combined population of all the countries of West Africa, it is still far greater. It is nine times that of Ghana, three times that of South Africa, while, in the Commonwealth, it is third only to India and Pakistan. It is for this reason that Nigeria is seen not only as one of the worlds best endowed in terms of natural riches/ resources but as a potentially vast market and a central player in the African economic arena.

In terms of population distribution, there is noticeable concentration of human in 3 major axes viz:

• The Oyo-Ondo axis in the South West

• The Imo-Akwa Ibom axis in the South East

• The Kano-Katsina-Sokoto axis in the North West.

Although major cities such as Ibadan, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, Kaduna and scores of others are areas of heavy human and vehicular concentration, about 80% of the population still lives in rural areas, engaging in subsistence agriculture for a living.

Nigeria's population is seen by many as a big asset, which is capable of taking the country to a very great height if well harnessed. With some 60 Universities (Twelve privately owned, the remaining are Federal and State Universities), the country also has 47 Polytechnics. All of these institutions of higher learning turn out about 150,000 graduates annually. Adult literacy level is 57% overall, with 65% being males and 35% females.

Labour

Total labour force in Nigeria comprises more than 43 million people, although not all these persons belong to the organized labour union. Nigeria boasts of a well organized and unfettered labour, just like her Press. The principal of periodic collective bargaining is well respected by all parties employees and employers.

Whereas there is a total of 48 labour unions under the auspices of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the oil and gas sector has two unions. The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) and the National Union of Petroleum and Gas Workers (NUPENG).

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