Nigeria could collapse and drag west Africa with it: US experts
by Ola Awoniyi
ABUJA, May 24 (AFP) - Nigeria could collapse into
anarchy and drag its whole region into bloodshed and
chaos, according to a report by US intelligence
experts sent to Nigerian lawmakers by President
Obasanjo on Tuesday.
The Nigerian leader said he had taken the unusual
step of passing out a report from the US National
Intelligence Council on Africa's medium-term prospects
in order to encourage Nigerians to work together for
"I am sending this to you not because I am alarmed
by the report but because if we know what others think
of us and about us, we can prevent what they project
for us," Obasanjo said, in a letter to the Nigerian
Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation, with a
population of over 130 million people, and its 45-year
history since independence from colonial rule has been
punctuated by eight coups d'etat and a brutal civil
With violent unrest continuing in several regions,
including the oil-rich Niger Delta and the restive
Muslim north, many here worry that the country's shaky
six-year-old experiment with democratic rule may yet
end in disaster.
The American report, which is entitled "Mapping
Sub-Saharan Africa", notes in a section on violent
disorder that: "20,000 people have been killed in
Nigeria while that country has maintained its
The document does not represent the US government's
official views, but was published on the website of
the Central Intelligence Agency in March as the
conclusions of a conference of experts on the
The panel paints a bleak picture for Africa over
the next 15 years, warning that poverty, corruption
and disease will continue to undermine fragile states.
They point to several factors which could provoke
conflict and collapse.
"The most important would be the outright collapse
of Nigeria," they warn.
"While currently Nigeria's leaders are locked in a
bad marriage that all dislike but dare not leave,
there are possibilities that could disrupt the
precarious equilibrium in Abuja," the report adds.
"The most important would be a junior officer coup
that could destabilise the country to the extent that
open warfare breaks out in many places in a sustained
manner," it continues.
"If Nigeria were to become a failed state, it could
drag down a large part of the west African region.
Even state failure in small countries such as Liberia
has the effect of destabilising entire neighbourhoods.
"If millions were to flee a collapsed Nigeria, the
surrounding countries up to and including Ghana would
"Further, a failed Nigeria probably could not be
reconstituted for many years -- if ever -- and not
without massive international assistance," it says.
In his letter to lawmakers, Obasanjo, a former
military ruler who was elected to office in 1999 and
who must stand down in 2007 after two terms in office,
defended his record of slow economic and political
"I believe that we can and should disprove themodern experts of the United States IntelligenceCouncil who are like prophets of doom," he wrote. "We must be determined to show that we are neithera basket case nor walking on a banana peel," he added.