Nigeria: The Model Breaks Down

Nigeria, we hail thee,

Our own dear native land,

Though tribe and tongue may differ,

In brotherhood we stand.

—Nigerian National Anthem

In its four years of independence, Nigeria has been held up as a model for African democracy. Despite its 250 tribes and tongues, Africa's most populous nation (officially 55.6 million) seemed to stand in true and loyal brotherhood, linked by an expanding economy and a growing network of roads and power lines. Foreign capital was rolling in at close to $90 million a year, modern office buildings and factories were springing up from shantytowns, the literacy rate had been raised 50%, and...

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