Fact Sheet: Nigeria - The Challenging Transition to Democracy
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                             (Abuja, Nigeria)
For Immediate Release                                   August 26, 2000

                                FACT SHEET

             Nigeria:  The Challenging Transition to Democracy

?    Since taking office in May 1999, President Obasanjo has consolidated
civilian rule,      following nearly sixteen years of military
dictatorship.  Military regimes have ruled         Nigeria for all but
eleven years since independence from Britain in 1960.

?    Nigeria's National Assembly, elected in 1999, represents the country's
first elected  parliament since 1983.

?    Through decades of military mis-rule, economic disparities between
regions have   worsened, the income gap between rich and poor has
increased, and a neglected    infrastructure has deteriorated
significantly.  With a debt burden of more than $30 billion,      an
estimated population of 110 million, and fewer than 5 telephones per 1,000
people,   Nigeria must revive the education, health and agricultural
sectors and rebuild the       country's infrastructure.

?    Late military dictator Sani Abacha and his supporters may have stolen
as much as $6  billion in official funds from Nigeria over his five-year
reign.  President Obasanjo is      leading an aggressive international
effort to reclaim these assets.  So far, $1.8 billion of     assets has
been frozen in banks around the world.

?    Nigeria has only about one police officer for every 1,400 Nigerians
and fewer than 3,000     police vehicles.

?    Potentially one of Africa's wealthiest nations, Nigeria's social
indicators are no better      than the continent's poorest countries.  More
than 60 percent of Nigeria's population lives      on less than $1 per day,
according to some estimates.

?    More than 3,000 Nigerians have died in ethnic and religious violence
over the past year.

?    Nigeria has been quick to defend elected governments in the diplomatic
arena and has  supported twenty-seven peacekeeping operations in West
Africa and abroad.

?    The U.S. and Nigeria also cooperate in regional conflict resolution
and peacekeeping,   including the U.S. initiative to train and equip West
African battalions for peacekeeping in   Sierra Leone.

?    Nigeria's economic growth rate for 2000 is likely to reach 4 percent,
and the budget      contains a significant increase in social and
infrastructure spending.

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