Nigeria is confronted with massive socioeconomic problems, while the security situation remains tense in large stretches of the country. In addition, in spite of a signal effect throughout Africa, the major success of a largely free and fair presidential election in March 2015 and the transfer of power to the challenger, Muhammadu Buhari, cannot hide the fact that the country faces major challenges.
In times of low crude oil prices, the dependence of prosperity on the world market is apparent in this rentier state. Empty coffers leave the new government little in the way of latitude to implement important reform steps. Unrest in the marginalised northeastern region of the country, fomented by violent Islamic extremists, is keeping the government and civil population in check here. Tens of thousands of people have lost their lives in the conflict. Rampant corruption and patrimonial structures weaken the foundations of the "African giant", undermining its potential in the guise of natural resources, population and economic power. President Buhari has declared war on these problems, but has only registered modest success to date. Broad strata of the population are not participating in high economic growth rates. Up to 70 per cent of the population live in poverty. In spite of all of its problems, Nigeria is one of the most important countries in Africa. It is not only by far the most populous country - in 2014 it also become the biggest economy on the continent. Nigerian foreign and security policy is therefore naturally assigned an important function: what happens in Nigeria has an impact on large parts of the continent and also plays a role in global politics.
The work of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) takes Nigeria's political system as its starting point, supporting the establishment of transparent and democratic institutions and processes. This also includes the opening up of foreign and security policy, which is dominated by the executive branch. The general aim and objective is to subject governing powers to stronger democratic checks and controls and have the population participate more in the political system. An additional focal point of FES work seeks an improvement in socioeconomic conditions among broad strata of the population by fostering socially just economic development.
The FES opened its office in Nigeria in 1976. The trade unions are key partners in project work. The FES furthermore cooperates with civil society organisations, state institutions and universities. FES Nigeria is involved in the division project "Social Security for All". Together with additional offices in the region, FES Nigeria is cooperating on the pan-African project "Reform of Trade Union Structures in Sub-Saharan Africa".