Nigeria: Toward Disintegration?

If Nigeria must disintegrate, then in the name of God, let the operation be short and painless. It is better that we disintegrate in peace and not in pieces.

—President Nnamdi Azikiwe, December 1964

Azikiwe was overthrown as President in last January's military coup, but Nigerians last week had ample cause to recall his warning. Another coup had just rocked the nation, and as the details began to emerge, they confirmed the fears that Nigeria, traditionally torn by regional rivalries (see map), had gone through another violent tribal uprising. As a nation, in fact, Nigeria seemed perilously near disintegration.

The latest uprising was...