Little noticed in much of the world, the government of Nigeria is battling insurgents on two fronts. In the south, militants fight extraction of the region’s mineral wealth for which they receive little in return; in the north, Islamic radicals are becoming increasingly violent as they try to impose Shariah law. Despite some tactical victories, the Lagos government is losing ground on both fronts. Nigeria’s culture of corruption is dragging the country down, impoverishing one of Africa’s wealthiest nations and creating a caldron of instability in a critical region of the continent.

Nigeria is a regional powerhouse. It is the most populous country in West Africa, accounting for half the region’s population. It is the eight-largest exporter of oil in the world. Yet even though it was the largest crude oil producer in Africa, it is estimated that some 90 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day.

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