Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink

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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2011 - Political Science - 183 pages
An updated edition of this book is now available. Nigeria, the United States' most important strategic partner in West Africa, is in trouble. While Nigerians often claim they are masters of dancing on the brink without falling off, the recent vacuum in government authority, the upcoming 2011 elections, and escalating violence in the Delta and the North may finally provide the impetus that pushes it into the abyss of state failure. John Campbell explores Nigeria's postcolonial history and presents a nuanced explanation of the events and conditions that have carried this complex, dynamic, and very troubled giant to the edge. Central to his analysis are the oil wealth, endemic corruption, and elite competition that have undermined Nigeria's nascent democratic institutions and alienated an increasingly impoverished population. State failure would damage the interests of the United States. But it is not inevitable. Campbell suggests concrete policy options that would allow the United States to help Nigeria avoid state failure and promote political, social, and economic development. Click here for teaching notes by the author. These teaching notes feature discussion questions and additional projects for educators to supplement the use of the CFR book Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink in the classroom.

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‘Gyara kayan ka, ba sauke mu raba ba’ – ‘Adjust your wares is not to drop we share’ – Hausa Proverb
Ambassador John Campbell’s book ‘Nigeria Dancing on the Brink’ is discourse on the Nigerian Project’ inferring the absence of committed ‘national’ leadership in place of various conflicting cliques which are at best ‘local champions’ on the platforms of sectional, religious and ethnic fraternities.
The Nigerian Project requires a crop of creative trans-cultural leaders capable of utilizing the enormous human and natural resources packaged in the country, for its people and the whole wide world.
Failure to do this will lead to the lurking dangers of reversal to ‘micro-states’ which at best would be ‘easy pickings’ for even a medium size multi-national or any of the marauding non-governmentals. The natural Nigeria is as stable as any dancing stage has ever been, but the staggering steps of its performers roll on the brink, as anything goes.
A courier’s luggage rack bears some displaced pieces along a lonely bumpy road a passerby noticed and asked the bearer to drop and adjust the falling items. A Hausa proverb preaches that: ‘Gyara kayan ka, ba sauke mu raba ba’ – ‘Adjust your wares is not to drop we share'
TANKO AHMED, fwc, Senior Fellow, NIPSS, Kuru-Jos, NIGERIA

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Incredibly Western-centric take on Nigeria and does well to mask some clear US interests and involvements in the country. Many Nigerian authors offer excellent (and varying) perspectives if you are trying to 'get to know' the political situation in Nigeria and its root causes.


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About the author (2011)

John Campbell is the Ralph Bunch Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CF) in New York. From 1975 to 2007, Ambassador Campbell served as a U.S. Department of State Foreign Service officer. He served twice in Nigeria, as political counselor from 1988 to 1990, and as ambassador from 2004 to 2007. Ambassador Campbell's additional overseas postings include Lyon, Paris, Geneva, and Pretoria. He also served as deputy assistant secretary for human resources, dean of the Foreign Service Institute's School of Languages Studies, and director of the Office of UN Political Affairs.

From 2007 to 2008, he was visiting professor of international relations at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Hew was also a Department of State midcareer fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. Prior to his career in the Foreign Service, he taught British and French history at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia. Ambassador Campbell received a BA and an MA from the University of Virginia and a PhD in seventeenth-century English history from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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