In this thoroughly updated edition, John Campbell explores Nigeria’s post-colonial history and presents a nuanced explanation of the events and conditions that have carried this complex, dynamic, and very troubled giant to the brink. Central to his analysis are the oil wealth, endemic corruption, elite competition, and radical Islamic insurrection that have undermined Nigeria’s nascent democratic institutions and alienated an increasingly impoverished population. Campbell provides concrete policy options that would not only allow the United States to help Nigeria avoid state failure but also to play a positive role in Nigeria’s political, social, and economic development.
Africa's most populous nation totters toward the "failed state" abyss in this measured study of Nigeria's travails. Campbell, the U. S. ambassador to Nigeria from 2004 to 2007, juxtaposes the nation's great potential including huge petroleum reserves with its dire poverty and growing instability. He fingers a litany of dysfunctions: a weak government and rigged elections; a ruling elite of generals and plutocrats who view the state mainly as a dispensary of petro-profits; endemic corruption; bloody sectarian violence between Christians and increasingly radical Muslims; the curse of oil wealth, which encourages Nigeria to neglect industrial development and fuels insurgencies in impoverished oil-rich regions. Part history and part memoir, Campbell's chronicle of Nigeria since the 1960s civil war is fleshed out with firsthand profiles of its leaders and observations on recent political turmoil, along with a shrewd insider's analysis of Washington's policy toward the country, which he feels is too aloof. His rather dry and diplomatic account is written from an ambassadorial remove; his views are shaped by contacts in government and business, while everyday life filters in through reports and statistics. Campbell gives a lucid, perceptive survey of the hardships and perils Nigeria faces, but he doesn't make us feel its pain.