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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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Chapter 1. Origin of Nigeria’s Problems


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Inquiring into the beginning of Nigeria’s trouble is like asking five blind men to describe an elephant. The reality is the same—one massive animal—but the descriptions will vary, according to the experience of each person. One may consider the elephant to be like a cord, if he feels the tail. Another may describe the animal as a wall, if he touches the stomach. The third may speak of the trunk of a tree, if he grabs the legs.

So it is with the origins of Nigeria’s trials, as different researchers focus on different aspects of the issue. Some researchers believe that the oil wealth, endemic corruption, and competition among the elite members of society are the primary factors that have brought Nigeria to the edge. Such is the view of John Campbell, the former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria. While in the country, Campbell undertook a study of Nigeria. Based on what he saw and heard from Nigerians during his two tours—one in Lagos (1988 to 1990 as political counselor) and the other in Abuja (2004 to 2007 as Ambassador)—he published his conclusions in his thorough and incisive study Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink.1

Campbell’s conclusions are shared by other authors, including Peter Cunliffe-Jones, an Englishman. His grandfather, Sir Hugo Marshall, had served as a colonial administrator in Nigeria for almost thirty years.2 Feeling ← 7 | 8 → a close affinity with Nigeria, perhaps...

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