"Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, with an estimated 135 million people, has faced intermittent political turmoil and economic crisis since gaining independence in October 1960. Nigerian political life has been scarred by conflict along both ethnic and geographic lines and misrule has undermined the authority and legitimacy of the state apparatus. After 16 years of military rule, Nigeria made a transition to civilian governance in 1999, when Olusegun Obasanjo, a former general, was elected president. Efforts to allow Obasanjo to stand for a third term were defeated in 2006. In May 2007, Obasanjo transferred power to a new administration, marking the country's first transfer of power from one civilian government to another. Nigeria faces serious social and economic challenges. Although Nigeria's oil and natural gas revenues are estimated at over $40 billion per year, its human development indicators are among the world's lowest, and a majority of the population suffer from extreme poverty. Nigeria remains relatively stable, although ethnic and religious clashes in parts of the country are common. Thousands have been killed and many more wounded in periodic religious clashes. […] Nigeria's most recent general elections were held in April 2007. The U.S. State Department called the elections 'deeply flawed.' Ruling party candidate Umaru Yar'Adua was announced as the winner of the presidential contest with over 70% of the vote, according to official returns. Domestic and international election observers reported widespread fraud, intimidation and violence. The two primary opposition presidential candidates have rejected the elections and called for new polls. The results of several gubernatorial races have been annulled by election tribunals, and judicial rulings on a number of other electoral complaints are pending. Despite controversy surrounding his election, though, public opinion toward President Yar'Adua appears increasingly positive. This report will be updated as the situation warrants."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33964