According to the International Monetary Fund, Nigeria is Africa's largest economy with a GDP of over $400 billion.
Nigeria is increasingly asserting itself on the world stage as a voice for Africa's interests, and often takes a leadership role in issues requiring joint African action in the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States.
Nigeria has a very high rate of extreme poverty, lack of access to basic services such as clean water and electricity, and endemic violence between conflicting groups within the society.
Nigeria has tried to build a democratic regime with limited success due to the struggles of economic development, rampant government corruption, and the frequent intervention of the military.
In 2015, for the first time in Nigeria's history, an election was held in which the opposition party won and the ruling party stepped down.
It is not yet known whether this is a turning point in Nigeria's democratic history, or if it is simply an outlier against the larger trends.
Nigeria has been a federal state since the advent of the Fourth Republic, with thirty-six states united by a central national government.
After Sani Abacha took power in a coup in 1999, Nigeria drafted a new constitution.
This is the eighth constitution since 1914.
Nigeria achieved independence from Britain in 1960, but since then the military has been the only force unifying the country.
More than 250 distinct ethnicities are identified within the country, and there is an intense Muslim-Christian divide.
When one group took power, the leaders would abuse their power and enrich themselves with the nation's oil wealth.
The military was forced to intervene in many coups d'etat due to complaints from disgruntled groups out of power and the threat of violence.
Recent elections in the Fourth Republic show promising signs of the emergence of constitutionalism and democracy despite the fact that none of these leaders has fulfilled their promises.
Nigeria is located in West Africa.
During the early phases of the " Scramble for Africa", European powers colonized nearly the entire continent between 1860 and 1910.
Lagos was a major slave trading point before the scramble.
British forces occupied Nigeria in 1885.
Nigeria's history of British colonization continues to shape its modern policy concerns, especially the difficulty in building a national identity from a large number of diverse and conflicting groups who have little in common with one another.
Nigeria can be divided into six general regions, which are each largely disconnected from one another, without much infrastructure linking them.
There has always been great ethnic and linguistic diversity.
In each previous country example there has been a shared political history, political culture, language, and other factors that unite most of the population into a single nation, at least as a large majority.
The history of British colonialism and the struggle to remain united since independence are the only things that unite Nigeria's citizens.
The Hausa-Fulani people are predominantly Islamic in this region.
30 percent of Nigeria's population is made up of the Hausa-Fulani tribe.
The largest ethnic group in Nigeria is the Kanuri, who make up about 6 percent of the population.
Muslims and Christians make up a large portion of the Middle Belt.
There are no major geographic divides between the north and south through the middle of the country.
The Middle Belt has developed its own political identity and has refused to identify with the regional politics of other parts of the country.
The Southwest is dominated by the Yoruba people, who make up 21 percent of Nigeria's population.
About 55 percent of the people of the Yoruba are Christians, 35 percent are Muslims and 10 percent are indigenous to the area.
The southern Delta is home to a large number of small groups.
The part of the country with the highest concentration of oil deposits is often the center of conflict over the rights to the proceeds and jobs associated with the oil industry.
The south is dominated by the Ebo, Ibo, who make up about 18 percent of Nigeria's population.
It's the most densely populated part of Nigeria.
The Roman Catholic practice of Christianity in the Igbo is often based on traditions from their indigenous religion.
There are themes of patron-clientelism in many countries of study in Comparative Government, but not in Nigeria.
The Nigerian version of this theme is called prebendalism.
In 1996, Professor Richard A. Joseph wrote about Nigerian politics, in which every government official treated his post as a "prebend" and the members of his tribe as slaves.
Winning power in political offices comes with massive economic benefits, and this plays a role in Nigeria's identity politics, in which tribal loyalty supersedes any obligation to the state or the public.
Nigeria is ranked 136 out of 175 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index.
When the British created an economic system that gave out benefits based on "competitions" among the ethnic groups for production, the rivalry and conflict among them was further intensified.
In the north it was based on Islamic ideals of home rule and in the south on European ideals of enlightenment.
The regional divide was heightened by these differences of opinion.
The divide between the Muslim north and Christian south has become a basis for political conflict and electoral behavior.
Nigeria has been unable to develop a full pluralism for many reasons, including poverty and illiteracy, but also because of state attempts to dominate the formation of independent civil society groups.
British administrators tried to build native administrative bodies to represent the interests of Nigeria in a way that was in line with British rule.
It was impossible for the British to control the formation of civil society due to their lack of familiarity with Nigerian tribal and linguistic groups.
In the aftermath of coups, the military tried to dominate all levels of society, but the state was not able to control the way the Communist Party in China and the Soviet Union did.
Nigeria has a relatively lively and independent civil society, but many impoverished people in the country don't have the inclination or ability to participate in it, as they are concerned with more pressing needs in their daily lives.
Nigeria's history can be divided into three major periods.
Modern independent Nigeria has experienced a lot of political turmoil, with four separate attempts at republican government, regularly interrupted by military coups, and counter-coups in some cases.
The rule of a number of West African empires, including the Edo-Benin Empire in the northwest, the Songhai Empire in the north, and the Igbo Kingdom in the south, often ruled simultaneously in different parts of the country.
The influence of Islam to Nigeria was brought about by trade and diplomacy with North African and Middle Eastern powers.
The elite in the north were educated in Arabic and learned the Shari'ah as part of their formal training.
The trans-Atlantic slave trade was related to the power and wealth of each of the empires.
After the Napoleonic period, most European countries banned slavery and the slave trade, diminishing the demand for the main resource sustaining these African empires.
Britain, Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Portugal quickly colonized the entire continent in competition for control of Africa's natural resources after the brief period of diminished influence of European powers.
As the Edo Empire collapsed without European demand for slaves, Nigeria was established as firmly within the British sphere of influence.
There is still debate about whether the British occupation of Nigeria was benevolent in its intent to end the enduring slave trading, or was fully motivated by the desire for wealth and power.
The British imposed an authoritarian system of rule with British administrators at the top of the power structure.
The missionaries brought Christianity to Nigeria in the 19th century.
British colonization gave Nigerian converts to Christianity access to a formal education.
Nigeria has one of the most educated populations in Africa and is still far behind other middle-income and developed states.
Christians and English speakers are more likely to be from the south in modern Nigeria.
After a series of military campaigns in the late 1800s, the British formally united their various colonial holdings of the region into a single entity called "Nigeria" in 1914.
This is the first moment of political unification of the modern country, and it happened under the direction of a foreign power, rather than as a result of domestic political demands and events.
During World War II, Nigeria fought for Britain in its North African campaigns against German forces, and the demands for industrial military goods helped the formation of larger labor unions in Nigeria.
After the war, the unions became the basis of political organizations demanding more local sovereignty from the British.
British sympathy for the ideals of self-government and recognition of Nigerian contributions to the war effort led to a long process toward independence.
Conferences and Congresses were called from the 1940s through 1960, organizing the processes to give Nigeria increasing self-governing authority, with full self-government granted in 1957 and independence granted in 1960 by a British Act of Parliament.
Around this time period, explorers from British Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell discovered large deposits of crude oil in the Niger Delta.
Nigeria's political history since independence can be characterized as unstable, vacillating between attempts at constitutional democracy and intervention by the military through frequent coups d'etat.
The Hausa-Fulani in the north, the Igbo in the east, and the Yoruba in the west are the largest tribes in Nigeria.
The British parliamentary system mimicked the structure of government, with a single parliamentary house exercising nearly all political authority.
The resentment in the southern East and West regions was caused by the early dominance of the North region.
In 1966 the Nigerian military's southern generals staged a coup d'etat in which they assassinated the prime minister and took control of the government.
After the coup, northern military forces defected from the Nigerian military, and staged a counter-coup against the new military government.
The south's attempt to take full control of the oil royalties was unsuccessful.
The Nigerian military government instituted a blockade against all trade coming in and out of Biafra, then moved forces into the area to regain control of the oil operations.
Without the ability to fund an armed conflict, Biafra was locked in a losing stalemate for the next several years, causing a humanitarian disaster of starvation.
The British government gave crucial support to the Nigerian military, which launched a final offensive to retake the territory in 1969 to 1970.
The reunification of the country set the stage for further national conflicts over guilt in the killing and starvation of more than two million people, as well as the competition for political control over oil.
Northern generals ruled Nigeria from 1966 to 1979.
General Murtala Muhammad was assassinated and succeeded by a southerner.
A new republican constitution was created after a transition process.
While the First Republic mimicked the British parliamentary system, the Second Republic mirrored the American constitution's system of federalism and presidential government in an effort to reduce tensions between the ethnic groups and regions and make it more likely that a president could govern with popular legitimacy.
Political parties can't be completely regional.
They needed to register in at least two-thirds of Nigeria's nineteen states, and each state had a representative in the national government's cabinet.
The government was overthrown in a coup d'etat in 1983.
The military leader of the new government jailed many of the members of the government.
The collapse of oil prices in the 1980s made it difficult for Nigeria's government to pay its military and government officials' salaries.
Ibrahim Babangida imposed an economic reform agenda that promised to fix the economic crisis.
Babangida worked with the International Monetary Fund to secure a loan in exchange for structural adjustment of Nigeria's public debt through increasing taxes and reducing government spending in austerity programs.
Babangida reversed course on his economic initiatives in 1988 after the wages of average Nigerian fell due to the austerity measures.
After an attempted coup in 1990, Babangida began the transition process to create a new republican government and hold elections, but he banned the existence of all political parties.
The Nigerian people were encouraged to join one of the two parties.
The result of the election was not what Babangida wanted, so he refused to allow the announcement of the results, and declared a new election later in the year.
The country's economy was crippled by nationwide protests and strikes, and Babangida stepped down to hand power to a coalition government.
The Third Republic only lasted three months.
The military stepped in again, this time in the person of Defense Minister General Sani Abacha, because the government was not able to manage the political turmoil in the absence of Babangida.
While oil prices remained low in the 1990s, Abacha carried out a program of radical economic development, ending Babangida's privatization initiatives, increasing Nigeria's foreign cash reserves, and reducing Nigeria's debt and rate of inflation.
The reform was coupled with political oppression.
Babangida was notorious for massive human rights abuses, including the assassinations of critical journalists and opposition leaders, but Abacha is known as the most brutal of all of Nigeria's leaders.
The elected government was jailed by Abacha.
Ken Saro-Wiwa, an environmental activist who had called for Shell to clean up after the indiscriminate dumping associated with their oil operations in the Niger Delta, was publicly executed by him.
Saro-Wiwa was one of many public executions.
The $5 billion that Abacha's family stole from the Nigerian treasury is one of the highest figures of corruption in the history of the world.
Many Nigerian democracy activists called Abacha's death a "coup from heaven" when he died.
It's debatable whether heaven was responsible or not.
There are many salacious rumors surrounding the cause of the heart attack, which include accounts of encounters with Indian prostitutes, excessive use of Viagra, and poisoning by political rivals.
After Abacha's death, his successor, General Abubakar, called for the creation of a new democratic republic, reviving the structure of the constitution of the Second Republic, with federalism and a presidential government.
Olusegun Obasanjo, the former military leader, won the presidency as a civilian in 1999 and is now officially retired from military service.
The People's Democratic Party ran tickets with both Islamic and Christian candidates in order to balance the interests of the north and south.
A new, less ethnically based patron-client network of support was built by thePDP to guarantee their stay in power.
Congress tried to amend the constitution to allow him to run for a third term in 2007.
The Congress resisted his initiative, and he stepped aside to support his successor, Umaru Yar'Adua.
The peaceful transfer of power between Yar'Adua and Obasanjo was the first time in Nigeria's independent history that a civilian transferred power to another civilian.
In the current republic, almost all of Nigeria's major political leaders were either current or former military generals.
Yar'Adua had health problems throughout his brief presidency, and died in 2010, placing the vice president at the time, Jonathan, into the presidency.
The pattern of corruption and patron-clientelism that Jonathan's presidency had become known for continued, but he was narrowly reelected in 2011.
The All Progressives Congress unified three smaller opposition parties in order to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2015 election.
They backed the former military leader as their candidate.
The 2015 election was found to be free and fair by international election observers.
The election results were conceded by Jonathan and he stepped down without incident.
This was the first time in Nigeria's history that a transition of power occurred through a democratic election.
Nigeria is the most diverse and fractured society studied in the AP Comparative Government and Politics course.
Nigeria is in the early stages of developing a democratic identity, and they are dealing with problems typical of developing countries.
None of the ethnic groups in Nigeria make up a majority of the population.
There are three large, dominant tribes directing most of the political activity in Nigeria, and they don't have much in common.
Each tribe has its own history, language, and religious practices.
There is very little contact between the people of Nigeria.
English is the official language of the country and they are unlikely to speak other languages.
English is only spoken in Nigeria's cities, not in the rural areas where 75 percent of the population live.
Wealthy and educated people speak English, while other people in Nigeria speak over 500 different languages.
There is a religious divide between Muslims and Christians in the north and south of Nigeria.
The British conducted most of their business in the south along the coast and in cities because of the influence of Islam and Christianity.
The north values Islamic political and legal traditions.
In the mid-2000s, all twelve northern states implemented Shari'ah into their local court systems.
The case of a woman named Amina Lawal typified the divide.
As Nigeria prepared to host the Miss World contest in Lagos, a court in the north sentenced a woman to death for having a baby out of wedlock.
The alleged father did not have a baby as proof of his infidelity, so no charges were ever brought against him.
Miss World contestants boycotted Nigeria in opposition to the sentence, and Christians resented the negative international attention the northern states had invited.
An appellate court reversed the sentence, but the divide is still visible.
The north-south divide separates Muslims from Christians and the Hausa-Fulani from the other ethnic groups.
The north has a mostly rural economy and culture.
Most of the oil is located in the south, which benefited from British education and economic development.
The south has more residents living in cities and earning higher incomes than the north.
Many southern tribes are resentful of how much of the natural wealth they once owned now goes to the central government in the north.
Political arguments over oil money between the north and south are still a regular feature of Nigerian politics, despite the strongest example of this conflict being the Biafran Civil War.
The regional divide was clearly shown in the elections of 2011.
All but one of the remaining nineteen southern states voted for Jonathan in 2011.
All of the northern states were held by the president in 2015, while he picked up a few states in the west and the Middle Belt.
The states in the southeast voted for Jonathan.
Despite the strong themes of patron-clientelism in Nigerian public life, Nigeria's civil society has developed independently.
The state has never been able to control the behavior of civil society groups, except for the most brutal and violent efforts, such as the political assassinations carried out under the Babangida and Abacha regimes.
Some civil society groups have tried to build a sense of broad Nigerian national identity and tackle common problems of all citizens in the country.
The ethnic, religious, and regional divides that plague Nigerian politics are worsened by other groups, most notably and problematically the Islamic Jihad group, which has used terrorism and kidnapping to attempt to stop the expansion of education and economic opportunities for women and girls.
The Nigerian military still has a problem with the roughly 10,000 fighters from the group, who once held a large territory in the northeast of the country.
Nigerian civil society is free to develop independently, but most of us don't participate because of the pressures of poverty and lack of education.
There are many organizations that are free to operate in Nigerian civil society, but there is a small percentage of Nigerian citizens who are involved in political activity.
The high rate of poverty in Nigeria makes it difficult for most people in the country to worry about political problems outside of their own lives.
According to the Nigerian government, 33 percent of the population is living in poverty, while the rest live on less than $2 per day.
During periods of military rule, protests were not generally allowed, but the state's ability to control and suppress them was low compared to other countries.
Protest activity has increased in Nigeria since 1999.
The oil industry is the focus of much of the protest activity.
Oil workers strike for a variety of reasons.
Nigeria's two major oil workers unions went on strike in order to get improvements to the country's roads.
A separate union went on strike in 2015, claiming that their workers' salaries hadn't been paid in two years.
President Jonathan decided to end the government's subsidies on fuel in 2012 in order to save the government $8 billion a year, but at the same time double the price of fuel in Nigeria.
Waves of protests erupted across the country, eventually resulting in violent clashes with police that killed sixteen people and wounded over 200.
The subsidies were restored after the protests forced the government to reverse the decision.
Roughly 80 percent of the wealth generated by Nigeria's vast oil reserves goes to the top 1 percent of the population.
cheap gasoline is seen as the only benefit by many poor people in Nigeria.
Government policy is influenced by their willingness to participate in protest.
Nigeria is still in the early stages of a democratic transition.
The military leader of the day's preferences were used to personalize the constitutions and political institutions.
Nigeria is classified as a hybrid regime by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
The current Nigerian regime could be described as transitional democracy.
The 2015 election may be a step in the right direction, but it's not certain.
Each regime change from republic to military rule and from military leader to military leader has changed the political party structure in Nigeria.
The party structure is still forming since the 1999 constitution, but the main competition seems to be shaped around a north-south regional party alignment.
The All Progressives Congress is supported by northern Hausa-Fulani Muslims while the People's Democratic Party is supported by southern Igbo Christians.
After the transition away from military rule into democracy was announced, the People's Democratic Party was formed.
The party was formed around the candidacy of the former military ruler.
It quickly moved to build a national, rather than a regional, base of support by including both northern and southern candidates on its national ticket, and recruiting members from all parts of the country into the patron-client network of support.
The party behaved in many ways like a dominant party, expressing limited commitment to any comprehensive political ideology, but rather taking whatever steps might be necessary to preserve the party's position of power.
It held power in Nigeria from 1999 to 2015.
Part of the party's national appeal was an understanding between northern and southern leaders early on that leaders from the north and south would alternate "turns" in power.
It seemed that the party would keep its promise when Yar'Adua was chosen to be his running mate.
The death of Yar'Adua put the southerner in the presidency, and many northern Muslims felt betrayed by the party.
This helped unify the opposition into a new party.