Nigeria Moves From Bloody History to Bright Future

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Two women attend the swearing in of Nigeria's new president Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, 2015 in Abuja, Nigeria.
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Today marks the 50th anniversary of Nigeria's first coup d'etat.  The country, previously under British rule, had officially become a democracy in 1960. Six years later, Nigerian soldiers from the southern part of the country assassinated nearly a dozen Nigerian politicians in the north—an attempt to wrest power away from what they deemed an untrustworthy and corrupt government.

The coup, while successful, was only temporary. It set off decades of both successful and failed coups, and ignited a brutal civil war. Peace wouldn't come for another 29 years.  

Today Nigeria is Africa's biggest economy, surpassing South Africa in 2015. Learning from its past, the country rotates leadership between the north and the south and has a young, vibrant population of future leaders. Nigeria is also dealing with the presence of Boko Haram, which threatens to upend regional peace and security.  

Max Siollun is Nigerian historian, writer, and author of the books "Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria's Military Coup Culture 1966-1976" and "Soldiers of Fortune: A History of Nigeria." He explains how Nigeria was able to learn from its bloody history in order to have a bright future.

What you'll learn from this segment:

  • How the military and colonial rule effected Nigeria's socio-political trajectory.
  • How Boko Haram is testing Nigeria's domestic and regional stability.
  • How the nation's history might effect its future.