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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Nigeria, the most populous African nation with an estimated 149 million people, is one of the United States governments key strategic partners on the continent. It is Africas largest producer of oil and is regularly the fifth largest oil exporter to the United States. By some estimates, Nigeria could rank among the worlds top five exporters of oil within a few years, although social unrest and corruption in the countrys Niger Delta region have posed significant challenges to oil production. Many Delta militants accepted an offer of amnesty in 2009 from the government, which has pledged to create jobs and invest in the regions development. The truce is fragile and will require significant compromise on all sides. As Africas second largest economy, Nigerias stability and prosperity affect not only those in the market for Nigerian oil, but the entire region. The country has faced intermittent political turmoil and economic crisis since gaining independence in 1960. 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 countrys first transfer of power from one civilian government to another.
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