199. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1 2


  • Report from the Secretary of State on “Nigeria Seven Months after the War”

Attached at Tab A is an information memorandum to you from Secretary Rogers on the current situation in Nigeria. The salient points in the report are:

1. Nigerian recovery from the ravages of the civil war is continuing rather well.

2. International relief ($40 million from us, $45 million from everybody else) has succeeded in averting mass starvation.

3. Our relief help continues for the time being, but Nigerian dependence on outside help is diminishing rapidly.

4. General Gowon has followed a generous policy of reconciliation with the Ibos.

5. The future economic prospects for Nigeria are promising.

6. Our relations with Nigeria have pretty much recovered, although there is still lingering resentment over our role during the civil war.

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Tab A

Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon


  • Nigeria Seven Months After the War The Crisis Receding

Seven months have gone by since the end of the Nigerian civil war. It has been a period of considerable recovery and return to peaceful pursuits. The war-affected areas are becoming economically more productive as the postwar reconstruction effort takes effect. The relief provided since the war (approximately $40 million from the United States and $45 million estimated from other nations) has headed off starvation. In the last three months the mass feeding program has ended; food is still being provided to those of greatest need in sickbays and hospitals. We continue to support the relief program with food shipments, but we expect that Nigerian dependence on outside help for feeding will diminish rapidly.

General Gowon has been able to maintain a policy of generous reconciliation toward the Ibos. Reintegration at the federal level is underway, particularly in the police force, the postal and telegraph services, and the federal army, which has absorbed 1,500 prodigal enlisted men despite the problem of demobilizing a wartime force of over 200,000. Strains remain; states contiguous to the former enclave have been loathe to permit the once dominant Ibosʼ return. In other areas of the country, however, Ibos are slowly regaining their former positions; property and rents held in escrow during the war are being handed back to Ibo owners.

The Economy

Although Nigeria came out of the war with its basic potential for long run economic growth intact, there were inevitable internal strains: heavy domestic borrowing, [Page 3] delayed foreign exchange, remissions, inflation, and large-scale unemployment. Some food products doubled in price towards the end of the war and rents since then have increased. Smuggling of export crops in exchange for banned luxury goods has been widespread.

Central and state governments plan increased outlays for social services. Their budgets reflect the end of war-time expenditures and the expectation of increased revenue from oil (estimated at $280 million this year). Nigeria is now the worldʼs tenth largest producer and seventh largest exporter of oil. Production reached 1 million barrels a day in April, is expected to average 1.3 million in 1971, and could exceed 4 million before 1980. Nigeria remains the worldʼs largest exporter of peanuts, the second largest exporter of cocoa, and a significant exporter of palm produce, rubber, timber products, and tin. Its economy—bolstered by the burgeoning petroleum industry—could become the fastest growing and most powerful in Black Africa.

In the war-affected area in the east, economic activity is also resuming, although at a slower pace. Government services have resumed. Local industries and banks are re-opening. The outlook for the fall harvest seems promising. Government agricultural marketing boards and local traders are back in business. These activities, plus the Federal Governmentʼs payments of $56.00 to every depositor of Biafran currency, are gradually easing the economy of the eastern states away from barter and back to a market economy. The Federal Government has announced a plan to spend $28 million on a program in the East-Central State for reconstruction of war damage and to further the stateʼs economic recovery.

Relations with the United States

Our relations with Nigeria are more cordial now than during and just after the war. Although there is lingering resentment over our neutrality during the secession and our aggressive role in dealing with the relief problem, the legacy of the past is diminishing as our ties with Nigeriaʼs new leadership are enhanced. In addition to our ongoing AID program, we have begun negotiations on a $15 million reconstruction loan which will underline our support during the, present transitional period. We hope that Congressional action will permit us to respond to a Nigerian request for military training and mount a modest military assistance program. The Nigerians place great importance on this prospect.

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Whatever steps Nigeria begins to take toward returning to civilian rule, General Gowon and the group which directed the war are likely to continue their responsibilities for the next few years. They are looking to the West but seek demonstration of our interest and renewed support.

William P. Rogers
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 742, Country Files, Africa, Nigeria, Vol. I. Confidential. Sent for information. Morris drafted Kissingerʼs memorandum and forwarded it to him under cover of an August 20 memorandum, on which Kissinger wrote: “Word must be dependence in Point 3 of memo HK.” (Ibid.)
  2. Kissinger highlighted an attached report to the President from Secretary of State Rogers on Nigeria 7 months after the war. The report stated that Nigeriaʼs recovery was continuing well, international relief had succeeded in averting mass starvation, and U.S. relations with Nigeria had mainly recovered, but there was lingering resentment over the U.S. role during the war.