Nigeria poses one of the globe’s greatest challenges and risks. It is Africa’s most populous country and a major exporter of oil and potentially of natural gas, but its people’s efforts to realize their potential have been frustrated by internal conflicts and misrule. The country was nearly torn apart by a secession movement and civil war during 1967-70. Recent crises, set off by the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, once again raise the specter of internal conflict. The current military regime’s carefully controlled political transition plan and intermittent economic reforms do not confront the real problems facing the country and may in fact aggravate them.
To investigate the degree of danger and consider various strategies to meet it, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventive Action (CPA) established a working group on Nigeria. This volume, the third in the CPA series of Preventive Action Reports, presents the group’s findings and recommendations. It advocates a strategy of graduated pressure, including some sanctions, incentives in response to positive change, clearer communication of policy goals to the Nigerian government and public, and long-term engagement with Nigerian civil society, that will provide the basic underpinning for any genuine transition.