With a population of over 160 million people, Nigeria is endowed with huge human and natural resources. However, in 2010, 52 percent of the population lived in rural areas and 64 percent of the population on less than US$ 1 per day. Oxfam’s work in Nigeria focuses primarily on improving livelihoods, women’s rights, and good governance.
Nigeria is a major contributor to peacekeeping in the region, playing a central role in the West Africa regional ECOWAS body, and contributing 70% to its budget and hosting the Secretariat in Abuja.
On the political front, the country returned to civil rule in 1999 and has since maintained a democratic government ushering in an era of opportunity for people-driven development, poverty reduction and wealth creation.
However, Nigeria manifests an array of contradictions:
- It is a rich nation of poor people and decaying infrastructure.
- Though the 6th largest producer of oil in OPEC, Nigeria imports fuel and contends with regular fuel scarcity.
- It has about 79 million hectares of arable land, and over 3 million hectares of irrigable land.
Until the 1960s and prior to the oil boom, Nigeria was amongst the world’s leading producers, a net exporter of agricultural products including cocoa, groundnut, rubber, cotton, hides and skin, Yet today Nigeria is a net importer of raw materials and food, and currently faces the risk of food crisis.
Though it is the main generator of foreign exchange and government revenues, the Niger Delta region remains one of the most neglected regions in Nigeria. It suffers from the environmental impact of oil production on agriculture and fishing, traditionally sources of livelihood.
The number of elected women in politics, at less than 7% remains the lowest in West Africa. The country has however made strides in appointing women to key positions never before held by women, including the strategic ministries of Finance and Petroleum, as well as Education and Aviation. Nonetheless, there are concerns about achieving the MDG goals with human, women’s and children’s rights still widely violated.