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Cleaner election boost's Nigeria legitimacy – and regional clout

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West Africa Rising is a weekly look at business, investment, and development trends.

A new regional hegemony may have been born this week – Nigeria's.

Africa's most extravagant oil producer has long had the money, minerals, and raw demographics to dominate its region like a bull in what might otherwise be France's backyard or the People's Republic of China's shop.

The nation's 154 million people account for more than half of West Africa's population, and one-seventh of Africa's total head count. Its gross domestic product is growing as fast as any world economy left of China.

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"Nigeria should be in a position to be a part of the G20," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters in 2009, referring to the influential group of the world's 20 largest economies.

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