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How important is Nigeria to Africa?

Chikodili Emelumadu | 15:56 UK time, Monday, 7 June 2010

The BBC Africa Kicks bus is now in Nigeria, on the final leg of the Africa Kicks bus tour, having been to Togo and Benin over the weekend.


466.jpgThe Africa Have Your Say team met a lot of Nigerians on the way as both these countries' economies are supported by close ties with Africa's most populous nation.

In recent times, the American President Barack Obama has said that Nigeria;

Is critical to the rest of the continent and if Nigeria does not get it right, Africa will really not make more progress.

Do you agree with this statement? How important is Nigeria? Which African country is most important to you other than your own, and why?

If you would like to debate this topic LIVE on air on Tuesday 08 June at 1600 GMT, please include a telephone number. It will not be published. You can find us on Facebook at facebook.com/africahys or follow us on Twitter @bbcafricahys. You can also send an SMS text message to +44 77 86 20 20 08.


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    I believe Nigeria is really important to Africa; being the most populous African country and also being one of the stronger economies on the continent (even with the mismanagement which is prevalent in the Nigerian economy) then as Obama rightly observed, if Nigeria gets it right, the rest of Africa would benefit greatly. In terms of peace keeping on the African and global stage too, Nigeria's role is pretty central as seen when Charles Taylor was removed from Liberia to allow that country have a chance at peace; same goes for Nigeria's role in ending apartheid in South Africa. Hopefully one day Nigeria will get it right so that the African continent can point to Nigeria and use the country as inspiration to move forward.

  • Comment number 3.

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  • Comment number 4.

    Yes Nigeria is important to Africa. Just imagine A developed, and well run Nigeria and the impact it will have in other west African Countires? Even with the mismanagement , corruption and all the troubles Nigeria is going through, many Africa Countries refer to Nigeria as the Big brother. Nigerians are great what we just lack is LEADERSHIP

  • Comment number 5.

    Nigeria's importance is often overstated. Botswana (alas, it's one of the very few examples we have) didn't need Nigeria to achieve its economic progress. And if reports are to be believed, Rwanda is making progress too inspite of what Nigeria does or doesn't do. Ditto neighbouring Ghana. What Nigeria really needs are: infrastructure (including such basics as electricity, roads and pipe-borne water), an educational system, jobs, law and order, and effective/independent state insitutions to oversee them all. Enough of this self-delusion about our "importance" to the world. No one else cares!

  • Comment number 6.

    I do agree with President Obama that Nigeria is very important to Africa. However, I do not agree that if Nigeria doesn't get it right, the whole of Africa wont. I believe that Ghana is a beacon of hope for black Africa. As a lifelong Nigerian, I have written Nigeria off because nothing good is ever going to come from Nigeria. For some reason, it seems that Nigerians excel as individuals but has failed woefully as a group. I can only pray and hope that the future of black Africa will not be dependent on Nigeria's progress or lack thereof.

  • Comment number 7.

    Yes, indeed, Nigeria is important for Africa if nothing else, due to its size and vast human and material resources. It is still up in the air, whether it has even made an attempt to realize all that potential. And there are no unimportant countries for that matter in Africa, as far as there are humans in them. What Nigeria should do is get rid of its lame superiority complex and start showing real leadership.

  • Comment number 8.

    On the surface it may not look that obvious, but the facts still stands. Do your number crunching and take a look. This is what you are going to see.....Nigeria is about One quater of the Continent's population; Her economy is one of the most developed in Africa and one of the fastest growing in the world. By UN classification, a middle-income economy with developed financial, communication and transport sectors. Ranks 33 in the world in terms of GDP. Thanks to the surge in international oil prices during 2007-08, Nigeria managed an annual GDP of US$352.3 billion.The GDP per capita is US $2,400. Nigeria is the United States' largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa and supplies a fifth of its oil. It has the seventh-largest trade surplus with the U.S. of any country worldwide. Nigeria is currently the 50th-largest export market for U.S. goods and the 14th-largest exporter of goods to the U.S. In recent years she has acted as a stabilizing military power on the continent. Yes Nigeria is very important to Africa.

  • Comment number 9.

    In recent times, the American President Barack Obama has said that Nigeria;
    "Is critical to the rest of the continent and if Nigeria does not get it right, Africa will really not make more progress."
    Do you agree with this statement?
    How important is Nigeria?
    Nigeria is not important beyond its oil revenue squandering. Its political social and economics management have no vital positive example to sub-Saharan Africa.
    Which African country is most important to you other than your own, and why?
    Two countries in Africa are best suited to serve as good examples and show good leadership role only if they new their past. Ethiopia and Liberia have been on the forefront of AU for decades. Both have very tragic past to overcome. If they do overcome their haunting troubles inside and outside, and look deep in their hearts and minds to care for their citizens, then Africa will be well served. Especially Ethiopia as the home to AU has every reason to set far exceeding achievement in every sector to set example as they have done so in their fight for independence through unity. Although Ghana has a unique place in AU as one of the oldest member, they have been excessively influenced by outside to set proper Africanism push.

  • Comment number 10.

    For me, Nigeria is not that important when development of Africa is concern. Afterall, it has pursued agendas important for its national interest to the detriment of others. A point in case is the embargo it has placed on certain items produced in Ghana. We have learned to survive without them for decades now and I firmly believe their demise will not change Africa in anyway. They may have abundance of resources and have a lot of investments in Ghana, but the reality is that, those corporations have come to profit from the stable and conducive business atmosphere in Ghana and I view them like any other multinational companies that have investments in Ghana as well.
    I do not also believe that there is an important country other than mine (My Ghana). Each one for himself, God for us all.

  • Comment number 11.

    Nigeria has fabulous resources, both natural and human. The Nigerians I know are extremely resourceful. Unfortunately, the Nigerian political leadership has let down the people of Nigeria and Africa too many times.

    Nigeria has unwittingly handed the leadership of the continent to South Africa. South Africa is in the G20. Nigeria is not. South Africa is hosting the World Cup. Nigeria is not.

    A number of African countries are forging ahead despite Nigeria. Botswana, Mauritius, Ghana and apparantly Rwanda are doing very well without Nigeria's leadership.

    It's a shame for Nigeria.

  • Comment number 12.

    Nigeria is the giant of Africa and indeed the most developed 'black' nation in the world. Hence, Her success is definitely important, not only to Africa, but to the entire black race.

  • Comment number 13.

    Nigeria is important to Africa by virtue of its population, human natural resources.
    Highly educated Nigerians are all over the globe. On the street of any European or American cities, if one run into 10 Africans, 6-7 of them would be Nigerians.
    Nigeria played a vital role in the fight against apartheid in South Africa and it continue to play a vital role in peace keeping efforts in trouble spots across the continent.
    Unfortunately, due to bad leadership, the country has not lived up to its full potential.
    I can remember in the early 70’s when oil was first discovered, the country was booming and was a popular destination for citizens of other African countries, especially from West Africa. Today, country like Ghana and others are learning from Nigeria’s mistakes
    Arguably, other countries on the continent can and may survive without Nigeria, but any emerging country on the continent would be foolish to ignore or not to tap into the market of 150 million people in Nigeria - the most populous country on the continent.
    PS. Let's show photos of modern cities in Africa sometimes instead slums and villages all the time.

  • Comment number 14.

    Nigeria may be important to the development of neighboring West African states, but I don't consider Nigeria to be that important to other regions on the continent. Nigeria's oil-dependent economy is not diversified or dynamic enough to be a model for the rest of Africa, while the country's endemic corruption serves to limit its continental influence.
    The states, in my opinion, that are critical to African continental development are South Africa and Ethiopia (I exclude Egypt from this list since it is a self-styled "Arab Republic"). South Africa's large diversified economy can serve as an engine of investment and technology transfer to other African economies. Ethiopia boasts Africa's fastest growing non-oil producing economy and has made massive investments in hydroelectric power and other infrastructure. Ethiopia will soon be an electricity exporter which will help the development of neighboring economies. Ethiopia's rapidly growing and increasingly diversified economy will serve as a model for other African economies.

  • Comment number 15.

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  • Comment number 16.

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  • Comment number 17.

    Nigerias importance certainly derives from its size - population. It is perhaps a consideration that Nigerians also have a peculiar boisterous and adventorous chemistry that propels people steeped in the nigerian spirit across its borders and into the countries in its region. In the event that they have been correctly led and empowered, the effect these people will have on thier hosts will be positive. This sadly is not the case. Hopefully, the advent of high speed internet access, its proliferation and content will provode alternative sources of education and enlightenment to Nigerians ahead of other Africans; so they can still have a positive effect on other Africans when they come in contact with them on thier travels.

  • Comment number 18.

    Yes Nigeria is important to Africa but in a deterrent way. Nigeria is potentially the richest country in Africa but the way they have mismanaged their immense wealth and the numerous coup d'etats, a bloody civil war and rebellions over mismanaged oil wealth render the huge country as a great example of what not to do in Africa.

  • Comment number 19.

    Nigeria may be important but each country in Africa is equally important as the total sum is greater than the single unit. Likewise, each African country should get it right to make the continent greater.
    Many times African states blame history for their inability to perform. They may be right but since the countries have been independent for nearly half a century, what has the leadership done to make things right? Impunity and corruption has been the order of the day. On the other hand, the outside influence of the World Bank institutions through structural adjustment program squarely laid the ground bad performance as it entrenched dependancy syndrom; frced governments to sell off revenue generating ventures; and cut civil service employment numbers greatly. Let us be balanced in thought and judgement.

  • Comment number 20.

    I strongly disagree with the president's statement because there are African countries which have made significant progress, particularly Ethiopia is making quiet a progress in terms of infrastructural development and Rwanda has made a significant progress in recovering from the atrocities of the 1994 genocide. Tanzania is also another place that has progressed in both political and economical sense. So, i find it a bit down casting that the president would make such a general statement and as an African youth looking to make a difference, I feel encouraged by this statement to drive for the betterment of my continent and prove anyone with such views of Africa wrong.

  • Comment number 21.

    Nigeria being the most populous nation in Africa takes a great percentage of the total populace of Africa & so we all know that people make up a continent therefore the general welfare & xteristics of such nation as Nigeria cannot be over-emphasized in description of Africa's general well-being.

  • Comment number 22.

    There is no doubt in my mind at least Nigeria is important. Whether it is as important as we sometimes like to believe is debatable.Some people say we are the most disliked people on the continent, so I expect quite a few people to disagree about our importance. However, no reasonable person can argue about the potential benefits that a successful Nigeria can bring to Africa.The economy of Lagos State alone is currently larger than that of any of our West African neighbours and quite a few other African nations (in some cases combined).Demand from Lagos alone already fuels economic activity in other parts of the continent...and we are not even close to our full potential.There were reports of a factory shutting down in Ghana a while back because their class of products were banned from importation into Nigeria, the Ghanaian market alone was not sufficient.
    Nigerians like to point out that few other nations have the capacity to and have indeed intervened (repeatedly) with force when necessary to stop violent conflict in other countries - this is fact.
    Hate us or love us, if Nigeria sneezes, Africa will get a cold but does all this mean that without Nigeria, Africa cannot make the much longed for progress?...I do not think so. While our thieving leaders are satisfied to point out with misplaced pride how we have consistently failed to reach our full potential, some of our neighbours are quietly strengthening their institutions. Progress will be made, but it will ultimately be limited by how much progress Nigeria makes.
    Nigeria has the potential to be the anchor that pulls Africa down, slow her down, or to join other nations to help Africa fly.

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 23.

    Individually and as a Nation,Nigeria has been helpful and very importance to the continent of Africa,I as a person have given a great help to some African brothers from Ghana,Liberia etc and so do other Nigerians.This is individuals then,As a Nation of Nigeria,she has immensly helped to quench fire that burned for many years like in South Africa during the appetite and Liberia war including the coup de ta in guinea,this are to mention but a few.

  • Comment number 24.

    To say something is important it must have at least certain features or characteristics that constitute the importance and the relevance. What is it about Nigeria that is important to Africa? Nigerians can't even agree about the anatomy of our country, so how can how can we begin to claim that our country is important to Africa?

  • Comment number 25.

    I agree with Akpan, indeed Nigeria's importance is often overstated because for instance come to Southern Africa, yes, we have great respect for Nigeria but in terms of influence I am not convinced. In Botswana for example in determining our policies we rely very much on the needs of our people and ultimately on the good management of our resourses, we also depend on our neighbours and the regional groupings. Perhaps if we had more socio economic, cultural, trade and other links as a continent we would be in a better position to influence each other and work closer together as Africans. Lets not leave it all to the African Union.

  • Comment number 26.

    People often complain that Nigerians are loud and arrogant. It is not our fault if our confidence shines over what some may refer to as timidity - we are what we are, and like it or not we ARE and the world has to live with us. I should also add that we are not unaware of our shortcomings, as I am certain you will find in the comments of some Nigerians in this forum. We are our own biggest critics.

    Permit me to respond to some of the comments here.

    @ musinuz:
    Please be careful what you say, Nigeria did not ban goods made in Ghana. The Nigerian government banned the importation of a certain class of goods from anywhere in the world, unfortunately there were Ghanaian factories that had factored the Nigerian market into their business plans that were affected. A similar argument is currently made by Ghanaians with respect to the new rules that threatens to force out small Nigerian business men in Ghana, because they fall under the umbrella of "foreigners".You should look around your country, trust me - Ghana is not surviving without Nigeria.
    @ gedion:
    Ethiopia maybe, but Liberia? How exactly? Liberia is a wonderful country that has had more than its fair share of problems. But really, if you are trying to downplay Nigeria's contributions in Africa, Liberia is really not the way to go - at all, their president may still have bodyguards from the Nigerian secret service. Fact is most African countries have histories that command respect - Ghana for instance, South-Africa as well.
    I wish you would mention what country you are from. You say we are only important for our squandered oil revenue - for all I know, you could be from a country that Nigerian soldiers have died fighting for, or that benefits from our technical aid core scheme that sends Nigerian professionals to African and Caribbean nations that request them for assistance.
    You can say that Africa's future is not fully dependent on Nigeria, that is a FACT, but to imply that we approximately good for nothing is simply rude. Nigeria has done a lot for a lot of African nations, without asking anything in return. The least you can do is acknowledge that.
    @ George Oyeho:
    At the risk of coming across as arrogant, I must disagree - all countries are not equal on the continent. How many people out there can point out the Comoros Islands on a map, or Seychelles. No offence to these nations, as important as they are, because all countries are important to a degree, they are nowhere as relevant on the continent as many other nations.

    Ethiopia is making quiet progress...yes, but before I accept that they are one of two nations critical to Africa's development, I'd like to see them fund their budget fully without donor funds.

    I do not understand why people want to avoid facts. Some of the comments here amount to flagrant denial of facts. It's almost like saying China is not important to the world. China's influence on the world economy is undeniable and whether we like it or not it is fueled by their demand for all sorts of things from all over the world and their ability to manufacture cheaply. One of the failures African nations is the failure to trade more with each other - can you imagine, to what extent factories in Cameroon or Ghana could grow if they had added demand from a prosperous Nigeria just a few hours drive away.

    I feel very strongly about this issue, because I love my country as confused as she is, but I am also a practical person. African nations will progress without Nigeria, but the process could be accelerated by a prosperous Nigeria or hampered by a chaotic Nigeria.

    If Nigeria finally gets her act together, we all stand to benefit.

  • Comment number 27.

    No doubt, Nigeria is giant in Africa, though the country is facing incredible disturbances that recast its economy to shamble one. Aberration and mismanagement under the leadership of corruption force this fortunate nation, which have been blessed with human and natural resources to remain in the shadow of poverty and starvation

  • Comment number 28.

    What exactly did Nigeria 'do' to liberate South Africa? As far as I recall the frontline states were indeed in the frontline of the liberation of South Africa. I will say that Nigerians are very enterprising but generally they lead Africa in all the wrong things.

  • Comment number 29.

    Nigeria is centrally important to Africa. It has a huge population and one of the most important economies in the continent, not least because of it's huge mineral resource. Africa has every chance of being able to look back at the second half of this or the next century and say 'this was our century' as the British and other European countries did in the 19th Century, the American's in the 20th century and the Indian's and Chinese will in this century. But for that opportunity to be realised Africa will need to substantially change the way it is governed. Nigeria has been a very corrupt in recent years, so much so that it has almost come to defined the word. It has been so bad that Virgin Airways do not accept credit cards for duty free goods on flights to Nigeria from the UK (too much fraud). The good news is that many very talented Nigerians, both men and women, who have been educated in the world's best universities and had highly successful careers in some of the worlds most revered organisations, both governmental and commercial, are returning with the specific intention of bringing their knowledge home changing how Nigeria is run. I believe the cream will float to the top and form an important part of a movement across Africa that will mean future generations understand what good governance is and demand nothing less. I don't agree with everything President Obama has to say but I agree with him on this.

  • Comment number 30.

    Think of this, if there is crises in Nigeria and lets say 10% of the population has to migrate, which of the neighboring countries can accommodate 14million people. So he was right to have said that if all is well in Nigeria with time all will be well else where.

  • Comment number 31.

    Cameroon is Africa in miniature and pace setter:
    If you should know how Africa is doing and if success is near or far, check with Cameroon. Nigerian could be populous but not the most important.

  • Comment number 32.

    Nigeria, Africa's most populated nation most get it house in order to be able to influence policies in other African countries despite its oil wealth and and over-population. Nigeria, if it house is in order, in terms of good governance, sound economic policy of growth, development, and stability, and free and fair elections, it could be a source envy of other African nations/leaders and their people.

  • Comment number 33.

    The importance of Nigeria or any other country for that matter is always debatable. The answer is not far fetched if you think of what a destabilized Nigeria would mean to the continent as whole in economic and population sense.

    Besides the country's importance- how do Western Press portray African countries including BBC. The picture above as used by BBC is an example of the Africa that Western Press show world. Always showing poverty and decay but never the nice and modernized cities across the continent. I recently returned from a business trip to India and I had a shock of my live from the level of poverty- most areas worse than picture shown above. I'm talking about New Delhi, Agra, and business district of Gurgaon. I took thousands of pictures if BBC would like them (free of charge). I suggest a BBC reporter takes a drive through some neighborhoods in New York City, Detroit, Baltimore, and make comparison.

    All we ask for is fairness in portraying African countries. There are bad and good areas in most countries including developed ones.

    Note: I don't expect BBC to publish this comment but I know the point is made.

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    Nigeria is regarded as a BIG BROTHER and they have been playing the BIG BROTHER role in Africa in General and Sierra Leone in particular for the last decade. They provided leadership during my country’s trouble period under ECOMOG when the world ignores us. They restore our President almost twice after he was overthrown by rebel forces. Although, other countries are now claiming that their intervention in Sierra Leone helped end one of the world most barbaric civil war but I think Nigeria should take credit for that. It is on record that the Nigerian ECOMOG force was spending one million dollars a day for their men in Sierra Leone. Nigeria still continues to support Sierra Leone in its post war reconstruction phase. If the world did not recognize that, we in Sierra Leone appreciate them. A friend in need is a friend in deed. Bravo!Naija.

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    OK let's forget about the BBC from the Archives Photo image, the sentiments and outpouring of emotions. Let any country on the continent that has matched, can match the sacrifice that Nigeria as a nation has made in Africa stand up. You name one now and produce your facts or forever keep your peace. As a nation Nigeria have single handedly directly influenced the the chain of events militarily, economically and politically. The country have gone in with force into Zaire (DRC), Tanzania, Angola, Chad, (Liberia twice for 8 years), (Sierra Leone for 4 years), Somalia, Cameroon, the Sudan and even Lebanon in the M/East. The country have threatened to use force and successfully reversed unconstitutional moves by armed factions in Togo, Sao Tome and Equatorial Guinea. Institutions from high court judges to industries across the continent (even in Botswana) )are populated by Nigerian professionals. the Country aided the fights against racial oppression in Southern Africa. A 2000 strong elite force was sent into Angola to hold the capital Luanda against Racist South Africa onslaught shortly after the Portuguese were driven out during that country's independence war. Subsequent help in all forms was freely given to Angola Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Lesotho in the brutal fight against Apartheid South Africa. the economy of a single state in Nigeria (i.e Lagos) dwarfs many African countries. The economy of nigeria dwarfs that of the entire West Africa. Where else is the proof of the country's importance to Africa. These are facts.

  • Comment number 38.

    What do you mean President? Which else nation is not important for African continent? As to me, every African nation is very important for Africa. Because if purposefully and effectively developed, every country is full of human beings, a very vital and critical resource for any development. As to me Africans, for sure, will all prevail. Mr. President, for me the country that might not prevail is not any African country, but it is America( U.S.A), as long as it does not take immediate corrections on its political and economic systems. Do you know why? [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]The fundamental principles on which your economic systems are based are visibly failing. Don't look at today's mightiness of your country, because, this planet has witnessed so many Mighty powers in the past that were later on changed in to dusts. So, there is no rule of exceptions that guarantees the U.S.A to be immune from such historical fate. As a matter of fact the world is observing a highly troubled US economy and an emerging mighty power,like china.
    So, I don't accept Mr. Obama's comment on the African countries like that. Sorry to say that , you western countries don't have the slightest knowledge about this Blacks part of the world. So, you should take very much care when you try to say something about this very huge as the same time very mysterious continent. Once again every one should know that we all Africans will prevail,with no doubt.

  • Comment number 39.

    These kind of discussion topics only promote xenophobia. BBC should dessit from promoting this kind of dialogue, and instead focus debate on issues that really promote african unity and development. As a nigerian, I say, ALL AFRICAN COUNTRIES ARE IMPORTANT, PERIOD !

  • Comment number 40.

    Nigeria is very important to Africa at least as a big lesson to other countries of Africa on corruption and its evil effects on the growing generations and the general society of a country. Nigeria is also a big lesson to African countries that found oil on their territory at least they will use Nigeria to learn that a badly managed blessing can turn arrount and become a course.

  • Comment number 41.

    At the material level, Nigeria may not have much to offer Africa, largely because of its current poverty of governance. However, Africa owes much to Nigeria for preserving African culture against Western invasion during the colonial times. Today, what passes for pride in African mode of dressing, for example, is what Nigeria has preserved, as exemplified by African movies from Nollywood, now regarded as one of the top three in the world [with Bollywood of India and Hollywood of USA]. In my view, to have rescued Africa from Western cultural imperialism is bigger and more endearing than transient economic development advantages. Think about that!

  • Comment number 42.

    There is a need for us to drop the blinkers imposed by jingoism.I'm no fan of Obama's but I doubt that he meant to make people feel that their countries were unimportant.So all this talk about my Ghana, my Cameroon or my Ethiopia are unnecessary. In fact I believe the question said, what country besides your own...
    After Nigeria, I used to think of Ghana as a possible second home, but with the growing protectionism there and the increasing reports of anti-Nigerian rhetoric, I'm not so keen anymore. Nigerians and Ghanaians will always be close, now we are in the midst of a possible rough patch. Eventually, we'll work things out and make adjustments to accommodate each other.
    All this grammar means that after Nigeria, Ghana is probably the most important country to me on the continent. For some inexplicable reason, it feels like the way nature intended for us to feel about each other.
    Protectionism threatens this.

    Good one. I wonder whether the BBC would argue that they were trying to show the resilient nature of the African through that picture they chose for this page. Maybe they were worried that if they put a picture of a prosperous part of the continent people would not recognize it as Africa. Too often, I have defended the BBC when people say they focus on the negative...BBC haba, abeg try to stop fueling the stereotypes.

  • Comment number 43.

    Nigeria is important because it's one of the oldest, its the most populated and its strive for development is visible for all African countries to see and learn from. It is not the most important country though, and it is not on its own in importance. Ethiopia is important because it symbolised African spirit, it will always stand proud in African communities for its anticolonial history. Ghana would be the other important country. Every policy it takes and the way it treats its own people has always had Afro-centric influences and consequences.

  • Comment number 44.

    Sometime ago, in new york, i asked an american man about his opinion on the rapid depreciation of dollar against the pounds sterlin. The man retorted by asking me a surprising question, which currency is pounds sterling?. i replied, I said..the British..He became furious and said; why should I care about the british Currency...All icare is my dollar in my pocket.. Then he went on..In fact I hate the british, they are arrogant and full of themselves..when his reaction was becoming streotypical, I immediately realised his ignorance and decided to change the subject. If the same opiniom had been sought from some other people who were more vast in international events and diplomacy, the reaction would have different. This question of whether Nigeriais important or not will receive mix reations from diverse opinions may be negative or positive. Most negative reactions may lkely come form those who never had any idea about Nigeria, but relied more on hearsay and the usual stereotype reporting from the western media. president Obama never visited Nigeria, but most have had the opinions of all his advisers, predecesors coupled with his knowledge of international politics and diplomacy, before making his comment about the country.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    Most of the factors that has stagnated Nigeria greatness and indeed its importance is found from within, but on the outside, i think Nigeria to some reasonable extent, has proved its importance. Beginning with South Africa, Nigeria enlisted fully in the fight against apartheid in that country. The much needed refuge, security and training and resources for most of the ANC freedom fighters, prominent among them is the former President, Thambo Mbeki and Oliver Thambo was provided by Nigeria. So Binakhozy, get your facts straight. Can anyone doubt that ECOMOG is the creation of Nigeria?, or is there any ambiguity on the defence, security and peaceful role it played during and after Sierra leonian conflict. What about Darfur and Liberia, is there any African country which played or has played more role in restoring peace in Darfur and Liberia than Nigeria?. Which other Africa nation stood up and spoke loudly and clearly even with threat to use force agaisnt the coup plotters in Equitoral Guinea. US- Africom was a futile attempt due to intrasigence of Nigeria. Obama's visit to Ghana was simply this; to visit the slave port, and to tell African leaders to face their challenges, rather than relying on the false notion of him being their messiah. So my friend from Ghana, stop living on fasle illusion. The truth is that Ghana is still grossly underdeveloped, and if Nigeria disinvest from Ghana of which i believe will happen due to the extortionary policy of your government, Ghana will definitely loose. For Mbiydzela, Cameroon needs some fresh air, Paul Biya has been in the office for 30 yrs. Cameroon needs to stand on its feet, a country like yours which cannot come up with its own national defence budget without consulting France is simply a banana republic. Yes not all is well with Nigeria, and i share the frustration of some of the commentators, but that does not negate the fact that Nigeria has been and will continue to be a moral force for good in AFRICA and for AFRICA.

  • Comment number 47.

    To NaijaNinja: Yours reads like the kind of defensive complacency that one usually expects from Nigerian officials whenever there's any criticism of the "government," which is often along the lines of "Yes, we do have problems, but so what?" And it's precisely this attitude that has made us unable to provide even such basics as pipe-borne water (never mind anything else) for our longsuffering people, so long after independence.

    I don't know who you are or where you live, but you clearly aren't familiar with the levels of daily frustration, despair and utter misery that ordinary Nigerians are forced to endure on a daily basis.

    Moreover, I challenge you to justify why you even dare to believe Nigeria is a country in any proper sense of the word. Would you, for example, call it a unified political entity with an effective administrative structure? Does it have any national infrastructure worth talking about? Or a government (as opposed to a pack of crooks operating behind the facade of statehood)? Or an educational system? Or basic healthcare? A police force? Just what, precisely, is the basis of your much-vaunted "confidence"? On the contrary, don't you realize how very deluded you sound, by making these ludicrous assertions? Why not join the rest of us in fighting for what some might call "good governance" instead of revelling in this thoughtless self-delusion about Nigeria's image?

  • Comment number 48.

    Being big is not synonymous with being great. If Africa is looking up to Nigeria, then Africa will never develop. When Nigeria gained independence in 1960, there was a lot of hope and enthusiasm. The country at that time had surplus of intellectual and technological manpower. The Nigerian universities at that time compared with the best in Europe and most African countries sent their citizens to Nigeria to study. Unfortunately, that hope disappeared because of poor leadership and corruption. The forty years of military dictatorship in Nigeria created a massive brain drain as intellectuals and technocrats mainly from the East of Nigeria left the country in droves to Europe and USA and never to return. This is a loss that will hardly be recovered.
    The smaller countries like Angola, Namibia and Ghana have done very well and should move ahead without looking up to Nigeria for leadership. Nigeria is no longer the hope for Africa. The problem with Nigeria is leadership. Leadership in Nigeria has never been attained by free and fair election. It has always been achieved fraudulently either by a military coup or a retired military general posing as a civilian and rigging the election and putting himself into leadership with the help of the Army. In essence, Nigeria has never had a genuine leadership. In the absence of genuine leadership, greatness will always elude Nigeria. The smaller and progressive countries like Ghana, Namibia, Angola etc should forge ahead without looking up to Nigeria. Nigeria is a highway to nowhere.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    I am a zambian and I agree that Nigeria could be instrumental to the development of the rest of the continent.But what I know is that there is alot of misinformation about the continent.We need up to date information.In that way even people like president Obama would be able to come up with a representative voice.So that even the seemingly powerful
    Nigeria would be able to learn from a country as small Mauritius.Mauritius
    is the only country in Africa that has an effective way of dealing with street
    kids through there social security scheme.Hence,there are no street kids in
    that country I learnt.Why can't we give them honour?

  • Comment number 52.

    I totally disagree. But yes if its because of good number of writers that emerged from Nigeria. Nigeria is a corupt country, I thing I can get convinced if we talked about Ghana. A country with a good track track record about democracy, high level of education, and stable financial institution.

    From A Southern sudanese in Diaspora

  • Comment number 53.

    Iam a Nigerian and sincerely enjoy all the negative comments on this subject but hope our greedy, shallow minded rulers read through.

    To the best of my knowledege, no two African countries has the combination of human and material resources that Nigeria is bestowed with.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 54.

    i totally agree with mr obamas statement !

  • Comment number 55.

    I strongly disagree with Mr. President's claim. Because Mr. Obama's claim is not convincing from theoretical as well as practical point of view. From the theoretical aspect ,as to me, the fate of a huge continent with a population size of more than one billion and 53 independent states can't be determined only by one country. For me not only Nigeria, but also every country and even every single African is very important to the development of Africa. And from practical angle, the President's claim is not well founded, because despite the performance of Nigeria the sub-Saharan countries were performing well in their economic sectors before and after the 2008/09 world economic crisis. So, Mr. President should reconsider his views in this regard.

  • Comment number 56.

    It is not true that when Nigeria sneezes the rest of Africa gets a cold.We in the South have managed to survive with relatively minor contact and or cooperation with Nigeria. In fact Nigeria has more trade and other links with the West. Much as I am the first to acknowledge with pride as an African that some of the best brains in Universities and hospitals in places like the United States are Nigerians one cannot say the same of the country itself.Wealthy Nigerians go to London and South Africa for the best medical attention, that should not be so if the country is so advanced as some comments have suggested. Where's the infrastucture etc which Dele Olubodun speaks of?
    To Tek from Ethiopia how can you put South Africa and Ethiopia on the same footing by saying the two are critical to African continental development? Please be fair, South Africa is far ahead of most of our countries put together. Perhaps before we all blow our own trumpets to high heaven we should do a bit of research.

  • Comment number 57.

    I find it sad to note that a lot of the comments here are rather fictional than factual, some even attempted to make comparisims where even parallels cannot be drawn.

    @ Gedion rants about Ethiopia / Liberia being leadership examples to Africa sounds more like a way of the mark comment from a comedian than coming from an intellectual. Lets look at the trio Nigeria/Liberia/Ethiopia,
    all went through a period of civil wars, Nigerians wrapped up their internal conflict within 2.5 years, Liberia 8 years (Thanks to the gallant Nigerian intervention forces that doused the fire), Ethiopia 30years civil war. Away from oil, Nigeria packs a quarter of the continent's population, yet she's able to feed her people, considering also that a substantial proportion of her Agricultural produces ends up across the border into West Africa. Ethiopia on the other hand is synonymous with famine and backwardness on the continent. A lot of these countries used as comparators are the sizes of States in Nigeria, there are 36 states in Nigeria so let us all do our arithmetics.

  • Comment number 58.

    Hmmm...Nigeria...The Great African Hope? There is some truth in it as pointed out by someone - a mess in Nigeria is in nobody's long term intrest. I think as far sub Saharan Africa is concerned Nigeria, South Africa, and Ethiopia MUST learn to be friends who are not afraid to compete and frank with each other because our destinies are bound at the hip! Of course each will pursue it own intrest but deals must be struck so we look to our internal markets and work together. I would like to see greater economic exchange between African countries and these countries i mentioned must agree to keep the peace with force if necessary.

    Is Nigeria the most important country in Africa? In my opinion this is a profoundly retarded question - i am a Nigerian from Surulere, Lagos. Nigeria is big but with big problems and peculiar potentials. I am not trying to preach a stupid Kumbaya nonsense here but it's just my own common sense. I would like to see more and more inter African trade and more exchange between Universities (and institutions) across these countries and the whole of Africa of course.

    In this sense i agree with Obama but not more. Trade, Trade, and more Trade. Cultural (Africa is not as homogenous as we like to think) exchange and maintain the peace. Technology wise, i think Nigeria and South Africa may have an egde together here, but promotion of joint funds for technology research that solve strategic problems across Africa with profit motives - not those halfwit feel good NGO's..lwkm. All countries are not equal but all countries in Africa are equally important! The youth in Africa should think we are all in this mess together created by history (the BBC and other peoples agenda aside...lwkmd ), but the future belongs to boldness and our generation knows no fear!

  • Comment number 59.

    Yes, Nigeria is very important to all other African nations, I don't blame those that argue on the contrary. we all might not know or understand the importance of Nigeria to other African nation unless Nigeria becomes stable and developed. So i suggest here that if the EU/America loves Africa as they claim, let them put aside all they stand to lose, and help stabilize & make Nigeria among the most developed nation in the world, I believe other African nation will just pick from there without much difficulties.

  • Comment number 60.

    To Sammyesq, you are the one who needs to check your facts about the liberation struggle in Southern Africa in general, where exactly where these Nigerians fighting the struggle? I was there, the Nigerians were not. As for Thabo Mbeki and Oliver Thambo, where were they in exile? Not in Nigeria and that is a fact. I am not anti Nigerian but I think we overstate the importance of Nigeria to the rest of Africa. As an African living in London I will tell you that you want a Nigerian near you if you are in trouble. A Nigerian will not walk away from a fellow Black in trouble even at risk of personal injury. I am very proud also that when I first came to England Black owned businesses were far and in between. Nigerians have transformed the landscape in most parts of inner London with their entrepreneurial spirit. Lastly which I think is the best part about Nigerians they are proud to be African. Often times people expect us Africans to be ashamed of who we are.

  • Comment number 61.

    “Yours reads like the kind of defensive complacency that one usually expects from Nigerian officials whenever there's any criticism of the "government," which is often along the lines of "Yes, we do have problems, but so what?" And it's precisely this attitude that has made us unable to provide even such basics as pipe-borne water (never mind anything else) for our longsuffering people, so long after independence.”
    I do not know which of my statements led to this misinterpretation, but I guarantee that you are wrong.
    Bros, I guarantee you that I am extremely familiar with the levels of suffering Nigerians must endure. I live in Lagos, and share in the problems.
    That we have problems, does not change a fundamental fact – Nigeria is important. Whether shaky and likely to crumble or not, as long as it is still together, Nigeria is important, and I believe that is the point of this discussion.
    Your challenge is pointless, because I referred to problems and shortcomings in my comments – I am all too aware of their existence. When I mentioned problems, did you think I'm referring to sand in my shoes?
    The basis of my confidence is people like you and I, and that we will one day maybe not nationally, but in some measure be well positioned to influence those around us or at least hold ourselves to the standards that we often proclaim.
    As for my supposed revelling in the thoughtless self-delusion about Nigeria's image, you are quite mistaken. It was no delusion, when I saw Liberians line the streets of Monrovia to joyfully welcome Nigerian soldiers soon after we were large-hearted enough to grant asylum to a man responsible for the deaths of so many Nigerians in the hope that it would bring them peace. It was no delusion when I smiled with pride at the news that Nigerian soldiers through contributions from their allowances built a hospital in an area in Liberia that lacked one. It was no delusion, when some officials from a new Ugandan university visited Nigeria to request Nigerian professionals through Nigeria’s technical aid corps. It is no delusion that during the most recent round of food shortages in Niger Republic, Nigeriens crossed our borders and were provided with shelter and food by Nigerians, or that we have in the past sent truck loads of food to assist them when they needed it. It is no delusion, that when peacekeepers are needed somewhere on the continent Nigeria, usually steps up – Somalia being an exception (and with good reason). It was not a delusion that a scandal broke in Nigeria that we had been supplying crude oil to Kenya at below market prices, effectively subsidising their economy – true or not I don’t know. The fact that a lot of things that Nigeria has done or continues to do are not well publicized does not make them any less true. Our image does not fully represent the truth, if you are not aware of this, you are the deluded one.
    More than just talking about things, I try to live up to my rhetoric. I will stop at red lights, use pedestrian bridges, carry litter in my pocket until I find a dustbin, work with a professional attitude, support reward systems based on merit, pay taxes, demand good service from public officials and probably sit on the street in defiance of the police as part of mass disobedience if it comes to that. People under-estimate the power of the little things, and the effects they can have.
    I am often concerned that some Nigerians confuse outright pessimism with objectivity. I am unashamedly proud of our country...yes country, Nigeria. I never fail to acknowledge the problems and to demand better or to challenge myself be better than the politicians we are all so willing to criticise regardless of whom I have contact with – there is always the awareness that by my actions or inactions I inadvertently affect those around me.
    My questions to you are, are you all about the rhetoric and pessimism or not? And where are you? Are you fighting your fight from Nigeria or some other place...not that it matters.

  • Comment number 62.

    Alexander the great was credited as saying of China, THERE LIES A SLEEPING GIANT,WHEN SHE WAKES UP,THE WORLD WILL NOTICE HER (paraphrase). For some of my African brothers that mistakenly think Nigeria does not play an important role in Africa's development,they are in for a rude shock because the real giant (NIGERIA) has woken up from her slumber. Nigeria is taking her rightful place in Africa and there's nothing anyone can do about it. President Obama knows what he is saying and we want the world to know that Nigeria will not let Africa down. Quote me, we (Nigeria) will get it right and help the entire African continent to greatness.
    One love Africa!

  • Comment number 63.

    @NaijaNinja i share your sentiments(I used the word sentiment advisedly) with regards to our Great Country Nigeria. Yes, I have all my life believed that Nigeria has all it takes to be great. Most of our brothers are losing hope over nothing. Old people bin talk say if e no spoil. e no go better! e go better for us my brother. I've been doing my best to ensure that people get informed as to what contributions they can offer to better the lot of the entire citizenry. one problem we have as a people is that we criticize alot instead of doing something about our problems just as that other guy did concerning your contribution. may I please advise him to try learn HOW TO FIXED THE PROBLEM AND NOT FIX BLAMES.

  • Comment number 64.

    If a nation is important to others because of the size of the population or territory then we should be talking about India, China, Russia or Canada.
    A nation is not important to others because it has huge population or lands. It is the role played in world or regional economy, culture and stability that make nations really important to others.
    Nigeria is important to Nigerians and to be important to other peoples a lot need to be done. What Obama said is politics and diplomacy. He will say the same thing to South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania... It is a common practice to American politicians to tell people what they want to hear.

  • Comment number 65.

    President Obama's statement is truelly politicall genius. America needs to diverify its oil resource needs away from the middle eas and specifically Saudi. And this is where Nigeria and any other oil reach country would come in.
    Having said that. Nigeria is as important as any other African country in the devolopment of the continent. With its huge human and material resources as demonstrated above, can 'contribute' to the wealth of the continent.
    The continent needs disciplined and dedicated leaders who will manage its resources in the interest of its people.
    What one sees in the continent is the lack of respect for rule of law, where they exist. We need strong institutions which have the power to force compliance for all citizens not just for the little man.
    Africa has a good future. Leta put our resources together and be a winning continent.

  • Comment number 66.

    Nigeria, my country people, are afraid of Nigerian people, because of the fraudsters reputation they have, also if you see the they cities infrastructure it's like a poor country though they are so rich in mining resources. Also they is a lot of tension because of religion, and they have split they country in two Muslim (where they follow Sharia law) and Christian (where common law is followed), and these two peoples regularly fight and cause death because of differences in religion, so I don't think Nigeria has a large role in Africa, I think Libya and South Africa have a larger say and more accepted in other African countries.

  • Comment number 67.

    Nigeria is just like marmite some love it and some just cant stand it...but life goes on

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    Forget about being the most thickly populated country in Africa, Nigeria is an unusual body politic! The people are too diverse. The land is geographically large. The government is unstable. No well defined nationalism. The world's strangest amalgam. About thrice the size of the state of California and can produce enough gas to power all the machine in the whole of the US for another century without hitch.

    Nevertheless, it lacks the most important entity needed by any country which will blaze a trail--leadership. As soon as Nigeria settles its leadership problem coupled with that of ethnicity cooked together in the pot-pourri of religious antagonism, it will be able to run the race neck and neck with countries in Western Europe and the United States.

  • Comment number 70.

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]
    Yes, i agree with the American president over the comment and i must add that Nigeria is a country that is of great value mostly in the west Africa sub-region. I can remember several times Nigeria struggle to keep peace across west Africain countries like Sierra-Leone and Liberia. Just like in Somalia now where the Islamist have been a trait to not only the people of Somalia but Africa and the rest of the world. So i agree that Nigeria is of great important in Africa because Nigeria never slack back when there is problem in the continent. I may add that let Nigeria look into the matter in Somalia and assemble the whole Africa and find solution to the problem in Somalia and give the people peace in their life because Somalians never know peace and never enjoy the benefit of PEACE.

  • Comment number 71.

    nigeria is a nation whose potential is put to misuse. its is not any fraction more important than lesotho or somalia if not less important. its economy lies mostly on oil revenue. it lists top on corruption n mismanagement. it cannot curb its ethnic violence. their skills interpretted into cybertheft n they breed terrorists. If their resources and potential was put to appropriate use then it would be a rainbow nation. But that may take a several centuries. That MAY take.


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