This House Has Fallen: Nigeria in Crisis
Author: Karl Maier
To understand Africa, you have to understand Nigeria, and few Americans understand Nigeria better than Karl Maier. In the tradition of Philip Gourevitch's bestselling We Regret to Inform You... and Redmond O'Hanlon's No Mercy, This House Has Fallen is a bracing, disturbing, evocative report on the state of Africa's most populous, potentially richest, and most dangerously dysfunctional nation.
Each year, with depressing consistency, Nigeria is declared the most corrupt state in the entire world. A nation into which billions of dollars of oil money flow, Nigeria's per capita income has dramatically fallen in the past two decades. All of the money has been stolen by elites. Also stolen has been democracy. Nigeria's leaders tend to elect themselves, often with the help of a gun. Military coup follows military coup. A rare democratic election is often merely a prelude to the next seizure of power by a general who wants greater access to the state's rapidly depleted vaults. A country of rising ethnic tensions and falling standards of living, Nigeria is a bellwether for Africa. And yet some think it is on the verge of utter collapse, a collapse that could overshadow even the massacres in Rwanda.
A brilliant piece of reportage and travel writing, this book looks into the Nigerian abyss and comes away with insight, profound conclusions, and even some hope.
Africa Confidential - Patrick Smith
Maier deftly combines history, journalism, and a novelist's eye for detail to tell the Nigerian story, but most of all he lets the country's diverse and energetic voices speak for themselves.
Financial Times - Michael Holman
If you care about Africa, if you are fearful for its future, baffled by its complexity, astonished by its resilience, read This House Has Fallen by Karl Maier. Few reporters can match the author's capacity to get to the heart of a nation and assess the hopes and fears of its people.
Maier (author of the internationally well-received Into the House of the Ancestors, 1998) explores the promise and paradox of Nigeria, a nation of fractious ethnic groups, legendary corruption, and bountiful resources, overseen by dictators for all but 0 years since its independence in 1960….This is a revealing look at a complex and troubled nation.
Maier puts a human face on a disheartening situation that seems remote and impersonal to most Americans.
The Economist - Richard Dowden
To most of us Nigeria is a mysterious country, hot, scary, and a long way off. Coolly, clearly, Maier tells its extraordinary story; sometimes horrifying, often hilarious, never boring. If it offers little hope for Nigeria, this book inspires admiration for the resilience, resourcefulness, and humanity of Nigerians. The best book on contemporary Africa for years.
It has become a clich<'e> that Nigeria is the most corrupt nation in Africa, even in the world <-->a nation receiving billions of petrodollars while 90 percent of the populace slogs through poverty thick as oil; a country so shot through by repeated military coups and political corruption it faces collapse. Maier, a reporter with a respectable list of books and journal articles behind him, introduces readers to Nigeria's military leaders, its soldiers for democracy, and its peoples<-->the Igbos, Yorubas, Hausas, Fulanis, Tivs, and Ijaws. Through them, conflicts are investigated: that between Big Oil and the Ijaw and the Ogoni (recall the story of Ken Saro- Wiwa), between Christians and Muslims in Northern Nigeria over the move to impose Islamic law, and Yoruban youth in Lagos demanding a separate Yoruban state. Geared toward a generally educated, rather than an academic audience. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Financial Times - Michael Holman
If you care about Africa, if you are fearful for its future, baffled by its complexity, astonished by its resilience, read This House Has Fallen by Karl Maier . . . Few reporters can match the author's capacity to get to the heart of a nation and assess the hopes and fears of its people.
With a firm grasp of Nigeria's embattled past -- military coups, secessionist uprisings, clashes in the oil-rich Niger River Delta -- Maier examines the nation's cracked foundation and broken pillars.
The Economist - Richard Dowden
To most of us Nigeria is a mysterious country, hot, scary and a long way off. Cooly, clearly, Maier tells its extraordinary story; sometimes horrifying, often hilarious, never boring. If it offers little hope for Nigeria, this book inspires admiration for the resilience, resourcefulness and humanity of Nigerians. The best book on contemporary Africa for years.
. . . THIS HOUSE HAS FALLEN is the absorbing, heartbreaking story of Nigeria from its creation in 1960 through forty years of failure and disappointment to a time of renewal--apparent renewal, we had better say. Maier's firm grip on history and keen journalistic eye produce an analysis that is grimly realistic. [He] captures the sorrows and laughter of a nation that is desperate and resilient all at once.
Vivid scenes from a potential meltdown, as veteran Africa reporter Maier (Into the House of the Ancestors, 1997) gives the history of Nigeria and suggests that regional tensions and pervasive corruption threaten its survival. Like many journalists, Maier is at his best when reporting on events or interviewing newsmakers and ordinary citizens. He is less successful at making those incisive connections that transform reportage into history. Nigeria, which he describes as "perhaps the largest failed state in the Third World," was only formed in 1914, when the British united the tribes of the Niger delta with those of the north and central region. These tribes had, and continue to have, little in common: the northerners are mostly Muslim and (because they dominate the military) have led most of the post-independence governments that seized power unconstitutionally. Delta tribes like the Ogoni were once enriched by tradefirst in slaves and then in palm oilbut they have lately failed to benefit from the oil discovered in the region. The central tribes, mostly Christian, resent the role of the northerners in the coups that have roiled Nigeria, and their efforts to establish Muslim lawthe Sharia. Maier visits each region and talks with its leaders and community activists. He meets General Babangida (whose decision to annul elections in 1993 provoked a national crisis) and the family of noted writer and Ogoni activist Ken Saro-Wiwa (who was executed in 1995 despite an international outcry). He notes that although Nigeria has earned $280 billion from its oil, at least half the population is poor and lacks access to clean water. Literacy is below that of the DemocraticRepublic ofCongo, and a wealthy ten percent enrich themselves at the expense of the rest. The current ruler, former General Obasanjo, was democratically elected in 1999, and Maier believes (although he is unable to convey much conviction after this depressing litany) that he represents Nigeria's last chance to avoid falling apart. A quick and lively study that doesn't dig too deep.
When States Fail: Causes and Consequences
Author: Robert I Rotberg
Since 1990, more than 10 million people have been killed in the civil wars of failed states, and hundreds of millions more have been deprived of fundamental rights. The threat of terrorism has only heightened the problem posed by failed states. When States Fail is the first book to examine how and why states decay and what, if anything, can be done to prevent them from collapsing. It defines and categorizes strong, weak, failing, and collapsed nation-states according to political, social, and economic criteria. And it offers a comprehensive recipe for their reconstruction.
The book comprises fourteen essays by leading scholars and practitioners who help structure this disparate field of research, provide useful empirical descriptions, and offer policy recommendations. Robert Rotberg's substantial opening chapter sets out a theory and taxonomy of state failure. It is followed by two sets of chapters, the first on the nature and correlates of failure, the second on methods of preventing state failure and reconstructing those states that do fail. Economic jump-starting, legal refurbishing, elections, the demobilizing of ex-combatants, and civil society are among the many topics discussed.
All of the essays are previously unpublished. In addition to Rotberg, the contributors include David Carment, Christopher Clapham, Nat J. Colletta, Jeffrey Herbst, Nelson Kasfir, Michael T. Klare, Markus Kostner, Terrence Lyons, Jens Meierhenrich, Daniel N. Posner, Susan Rose-Ackerman, Donald R. Snodgrass, Nicolas van de Walle, Jennifer A. Widner, and Ingo Wiederhofer.
The failure of nation-states is nothing new. But in the age of global terrorism, the consequences of state failure for the international order are potentially much more damaging than ever before. This volume brings together experts to explore the problem of weak states in the developing world and to offer ideas about how to strengthen rights and rule. It is most useful in providing a framework for diagnosing the ailments that afflict states in various stages of decay in Africa, Asia, and Latin America: weak states fail to provide key public goods such as security, law, property rights, banks, schools, and hospitals; failed states (Mobutu Sese Seko's Zaire, the Taliban's Afghanistan) are characterized by chronic violence, corruption, deteriorating infrastructure, and predatory ruling regimes; and in collapsed states (Lebanon in the 1970s, Somalia in the 1980s, Nigeria and Sierra Leone in the 1990s), rule by the gun wipes away any pretense of public authority.
The authors identify many causes of state failure, but almost all cases are associated with civil violence and the rise of warring nonstate groups flush with revenue from minerals or narcotics. The international community can often help resuscitate failed states by sponsoring elections and committing to long-term security protection. But several contributors warn that, in the worst instances, major powers and the United Nations must be willing to "decertify" failed states while parties disarm and the country is put back together.
Table of Contents:
|List of Maps|
|1||The Failure and Collapse of Nation-States: Breakdown, Prevention, and Repair||1|
|Pt. 1||The Causes and Prevention of Failure||51|
|2||Domestic Anarchy, Security Dilemmas, and Violent Predation: Causes of Failure||53|
|3||The Global-Local Politics of State Decay||77|
|4||The Economic Correlates of State Failure: Taxes, Foreign Aid, and Policies||94|
|5||The Deadly Connection: Paramilitary Bands, Small Arms Diffusion, and State Failure||116|
|6||Prevention State Failure||135|
|Pt. 2||Post-Failure Resuscitation of Nation-States||151|
|7||Forming States after Failure||153|
|8||Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration: Lessons and Liabilities in Reconstruction||170|
|9||Establishing the Rule of Law||182|
|10||Building Effective Trust in the Aftermath of Severe Conflict||222|
|11||Civil Society and the Reconstruction of Failed States||237|
|12||Restoring Economic Functioning in Failed States||256|
|13||Transforming the Institutions of War: Postconflict Elections and the Reconstruction of Failed States||269|
|14||Let Them Fail: State Failure in Theory and Practice: Implications for Policy||302|