U.S. intelligence activities in Nigeria
The most populous country in Africa, an oil exporter, and with abundant resources, Nigeria has the capacity to be a major regional power. It has been a key participant in peace operations under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and is active in African Union operations in Darfur.
While there has been concern about radical Islamic activity, as is the case in Northern Nigeria today, the National Intelligence Council found "It is highly unlikely, no matter other domestic developments, that Nigeria will develop a distinct identity as a Muslim state, although religious conflict centered around Islam within Nigeria is likely to continue."
A National Intelligence Council study examined sub-Saharan Africa, and Nigeria was prominent among its findings; there was active concern Nigeria, in spite of its size and resources, could become a failed state. "If Nigeria were to become a failed state, it could drag down a large part of the West African region.... If millions were to flee a collapsed Nigeria, the surrounding countries, up to and including Ghana, would be destabilized Further, a failed Nigeria probably could not be reconstituted for many years, if ever, and not without massive international assistance." Its level of domestic violence was cited: "For instance, 20,000 people have been killed in Nigeria while that country has maintained its democratic facade." 
The analysts saw potential for good as well as bad outcomes. "If Angola, Nigeria, and Sudan, three of Africa's largest and most important countries, actually began to use their revenues from oil in productive ways, these states would become stronger, tens of millions of Africans would benefit from reduced poverty, and the impact on the region might be significant."
In NIE 64.2-70, the IC concluded "The Nigerian Civil War ended with relatively little rancor. The defeated Ibos are accepted as fellow citizens in many parts of Nigeria, but not in some areas of former Biafra where they were once dominant. Iboland is an overpopulated, economically depressed area where massive unemployment is likely to continue for many years.
"Nigeria is still very much a tribal society..." where local and tribal alliances count more than "national attachment. General Yakubu Gowon, head of the Federal Military Government (FRG) is the accepted national leader and his popularity has grown since the end of the war. The FMG is neither very efficient nor dynamic, but the recent announcement that it intends to retain power for six more years has generated little opposition so far. The Nigerian Army, vastly expanded during the war, is both the main support to the FRG and the chief threat to it. The troops are poorly trained and disciplined and some of the officers are turning to conspiracies and plotting. We think Gowon will have great difficulty in staying in office through the period which he said is necessary before the turnover of power to civilians. His sudden removal would dim the prospects for Nigerian stability.
"Nigeria's economy came through the war in better shape than expected." Problems exist with inflation, internal debt, and a huge military budget, competing with popular demands for government services. "The petroleum industry is expanding faster than expected and oil revenues will help defray military and social service expenditures...
"Nigeria emerged from the war with a heightened sense of national pride mixed with antiforeign sentiment, and an intention to play a larger role in African and world affairs." British cultural influence is strong but its political influence is declining. The Soviet Union benefits from Nigerian appreciation of its help during the war, but is not trying for control. Nigerian relations with the US, cool during the war, are improving, but France may be seen as the future patron.
"Nigeria is likely to take a more active role in funding liberation movements in southern Africa." Lagos, however, is not perceived as the "spiritual and bureaucratic capitalof Africa"; Addis Ababa has that role. The barriers between anglophone and francophone African countries will remain.
According to an October 1966 CIA Intelligence Memorandum, "Africa's most populous country (population estimated at 48 million) is in the throes of a highly complex internal crisis rooted in its artificial origin as a British dependency containing over 250 diverse and often antagonistic tribal groups. The present crisis started" with Nigerian independence in 1960, but the federated parliament hid "serious internal strains. It has been in an acute stage since last January when a military coup d'etat destroyed the constitutional regime bequeathed by the British and upset the underlying tribal and regional power relationships. At stake now are the most fundamental questions which can be raised about a country, beginning with whether it will survive as a single viable entity.
The situation is uncertain, with Nigeria, since a second army coup last July, is sliding downhill faster and faster, with less and less chance unity and stability. Unless present army leaders and contending tribal elements soon reach agreement on a new basis for association and take some effective measures to halt a seriously deteriorating security situation, there will be increasing internal turmoil, possibly including civil war.
- Mapping Sub-Saharan Africa's Future: Conference Report, National Intelligence Council, March 2005
- Central Intelligence Agency (2 November 1970), National Intelligence Estimate 64.2-70: Prospects for Postwar Nigeria
- Central Intelligence Agency (October 1, 1966), Intelligence Memorandum: The Situation in Nigeria, FRUS-XXIV-366