by RAY FLEMING

NIGERIA needs all the good luck it can get. One of Africa's largest states, it has undergone a succession of military dictatorships, a civil war and countless coups since it became independent in 1960. So the fact that its new president, has the first name of Goodluck should be taken as a favourable omen. President Goodluck Jonathan has been vice president and then acting president for some time while the elected president Yar'Adua fought the illness which led to his recent death.

Not all the problems of this oil-rich state are of its own doing. It became a British military protectorate in 1899 and in due course began to assume civil rule based on balancing the influence of its many tribes and the fundamental division between the Muslim North and the Christian Southern areas. A federal structure introduced to prepare for independence has failed to bring the inhabitants of this vast country together as a nation and often the army has proved to be the only unifying force. Beyond the major cities loyalties remain primarily tribal and are often exercised with brutal force. President Jonathan faces huge tasks in releasing Nigeria's potential to become a stable, prosperous, peaceful and influential African nation. As in many countries in Africa, corruption is an ever-present threat to development and has defied the best efforts of the country's Economic and FInancial Crimes Commission to bring it under control. Goodluck, Mr President.

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