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Nigeria - dancing on the brink
John Campbell
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
UK Publication Date

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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John Campbell is the Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He entered service twice in Nigeria, from 1988-1990 as political counselor and from 2004-2007 as U.S. ambassador.

Ambassador John Campbell has written an important book on Nigeria which demands the attention of every Nigerian and every American interested in Nigerian politics and Nigeria's place in African and global affairs. . . . A tour de force in every sense of the word. . . . [Campbell] shows a magisterial understanding of Nigeria's troubled political terrain, which only an insider could accomplish.

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 petroprofits; 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 oilrich 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. . . . Campbell gives a lucid, perceptive survey of the hardships and perils Nigeria faces.
Publishers Weekly

Part diplomatic memoir, part layman's introduction to the country, Campbell's book provides an excellent snapshot of Nigeria today. Campbell recounts key events in the country during his terms there as an American diplomat, including a spell as U.S. ambassador from 2004 to 2007. On several occasions, Campbell comments on U.S. timidity, notably Washington's hesitancy to publicly voice its concerns about Nigeria's deplorable levels of corruption or about the fraud and violence that have marred recent elections. . . . His book is a lively and sometimes highly critical analysis of the country's political class.
Foreign Affairs

A masterly piece of work written with candour.
The Africa Report

This lucidly written book will appeal to scholars, policymakers, and general readers. John Campbell explores key political, economic, and social issues and frankly evaluates U.S. policies in helping or inhibiting the building of a stable, democratic, and less corrupt Nigeria. It is essential reading for all concerned about the unfulfilled potential, and uncertain future, of this complex nation.
Richard Joseph, Northwestern University

A fascinating work. With the detail Ambassador Campbell provides based on his Abuja assignment, the book is a lucid and valuable contribution to understanding contemporary Nigeria. Campbell writes with unusual candor, and with his initial academic training as a historian, he brings analytical discipline to his writing. This is much more than a mere memoir.
Crawford Young, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Keyword Index
Social conflict - Nigeria.|Ethnic conflict - Nigeria.|Nigeria - Politics and government - 2007-|Nigeria - Economic conditions - 1970-
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