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A Quiet Revolution

Some Social and Religious Perspectives on the Nigerian Crisis


Joseph F. Mali

In A Quiet Revolution: Some Social and Religious Perspectives on the Nigerian Crisis, Joseph F. Mali argues that contrary to popular belief, corruption and failed leadership are not at the heart of the Nigerian crisis. Corruption and misrule, though they have done a terrible harm to the Nigerian society, are in fact byproducts of something much more sinister in the same way that smoke is the byproduct of fire. The real trouble with Nigeria, Mali puts it bluntly, is a lifestyle of profound selfishness, which the people and their leaders have in common. The nation is still bleeding because of this evil. Unless Nigerians cure this «disease», Mali maintains, no system of government is likely to succeed in Nigeria. In vain do Nigerians seek political solutions as long as selfishness remains their credo! Since Nigeria’s problem is moral in nature, Mali insists, the remedy must also be ethical in character. Accordingly, he proposes «A Quiet Revolution» as a cure for Nigeria’s ailment. This revolution is not a silent coup to overthrow the Nigerian government. It is not «a French-styled rebellion in which the masses on the streets, and peasants in the country put an end to centuries of absolute monarchy». Rather, the «Quiet Revolution» is an interior change; an individual transformation. As long as this change has not taken place, Mali declares, it will be difficult to repair and restore Nigeria.
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As the crises in Nigeria worsen, foreign writers are alerting the international community to the country’s rich endowment of natural resources and its key position as a founding member of the African Union. Two of these foreign authors deserve particular attention. They are Karl Maier, with his book This House Has Fallen: Nigeria in Crisis (2002), and John Campbell, with his work Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink (2011). Against the international media’s tendency to shun Nigeria because of its complexities, Maier insists, “Nigeria truly matters.”1 The outside world, he warns, ignores Nigeria at its own peril.2

Maier sees very clearly the necessity of saving Nigeria, but his reasons are inadequate. They are tailored for the profit of the outside world. In brief, Maier argues as follows: In Africa, Nigeria is the biggest trading partner of the United States. It is the fifth largest supplier of oil to the U.S. market. Nigeria can provide trade opportunities for North American and European companies. If Nigeria fails, he cautions, it could cost American taxpayers millions of dollars.3

John Campbell’s logic is similar to that of Maier.4 Campbell acknowledges the importance of Nigeria to the international community. He refers to Nigeria as the most important African strategic partner to the administration of President George W. Bush.5 But he has no illusions about the complexities ← 1 | 2 → of Nigeria. The country, he notes, is riddled with complex challenges that are difficult for Western nations to fully comprehend. At...

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