Africa Notes: Two (Hopeful) Views of Nigeria - December 1985
December 10, 1985
PART I: Why Babangida
Clearly, Babangida is popular and very much in charge. He is a very political soldier indeed, and he certainly understands the basic democratic principle of governance by the consent of the governed. He is an instinctive consensus builder, and has a reputation for acting decisively once a consensus is in place.
The big question is whether or not Nigeria can come to terms with the IMF. There is more than a $2.5 billion IMF facility at question; another $1.5 billion in World Bank financing and perhaps $2 billion in bank and commercial credit are also at stake. The major stumbling block is the apparently tough IMF demand for massive devaluation of the naira-an issue which has become highly politicized. Many argue that since the naira has already gone through a large devaluation in the past few years, it ought to be possible to work out a formula for continued gradual devaluation that would both satisfy the IMF and prevent a political backlash in Nigeria.
PART II: The Six Phases of Nigerian-U.S. Relations
The development of Nigerian-U.S. relations in the past 25 years can be divided into six phases: (1) The Era of Good Feeling-the period from independence on October 1, 1960 to the January 15, 1966 military coup that toppled the civilian First Republic headed by Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and resulted in the latter's death; (2) The Period of Uncertainty (January 1966 to January 1970), which was marked by crisis, conflicts, and the Nigerian civil war; (3) Mending Relationships, the period from 1970 to the overthrow of General Yakubu Gowon on July 29, 1975 (exactly nine years after he came to power); (4) Confrontation and Rapprochement, the period from 1975 to 1979 marked first by stormy weather in U.S.-Nigerian relations (because of disagreement over the U.S. role in the Angolan civil war and subsequent allegations of CIA involvement in the February 1976 assassination of head of state General Murtala Mohammed during the abortive Dimka coup), and then by movement toward better relations during the period of Genera l Olusegun Obasanjo's rule; (5) The Return of Optimism (October 1979-December 1983), covering the election and incumbency of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Nigeria's first executive president; and (6) The Return of the Generals (December 31, 1983-?).