Nigeria as a Pivotal State in the Muslim World
USIP Press Books
April 2008
180 pp., 6" x 9"
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“John Paden brings over forty years of deep experience in Nigeria to this masterful work, which argues that this incredibly complex nation deserves a central role in U.S. strategic thinking on how to engage the Muslim world. He contends that Nigeria, with roughly 70 million Muslims and 70 million Christians, has a unique global role to play as both a potential model for inter-religious political accommodation and as a potential bridging player in global politics between the Christian-dominated West and the Muslim world. This book will be gratefully received by policymakers in both Nigeria and the U.S.”

—Darren Kew, University of Massachusetts, Boston
As the most populous country in Africa and a major oil producer, Nigeria has long been recognized as the dominant force in West Africa. But its standing within the broader international arena, especially its comparative position within the Muslim world, has been less well understood. Indeed, does Nigeria's influence extend beyond the region?

In this concise volume, John N. Paden answers this very question, contending that Nigeria is globally significant for a multitude of reasons, not least of which for the political resiliency it has demonstrated despite its complex ethnolinguistic and religious diversity. He argues that Nigeria, with a population that is almost evenly divided between Muslims and Christians, could serve uniquely as a model for interreligious political accommodation and as a bridging actor in global politics between the West and the Muslim world. He concludes by calling on the United States to formulate better engagement strategies in the region and to support Nigeria’s political resilience by strengthening social, cultural, and economic ties, and by showing greater understanding and diplomatic tolerance toward the country.

Faith and Politics in Nigeria offers timely, clear, and astute analysis that will be valued by students and scholars of Islamic and African studies and provides keen recommendations for policymakers and conflict-management practitioners.

John N. Paden is Clarence Robinson Professor of International Studies and Professor of Public and International Affairs at George Mason University. He has served as an international observer in three Nigerian presidential elections and is the author of numerous volumes, including, most recently, Muslim Civic Cultures and Conflict Resolution: The Challenge of Democratic Federalism in Nigeria.


  • Foreword - Ibrahim Gambari
  • Introduction: Nigeria in a Global Perspective
  • Sources of Nigerian Influence and Significance
  • Challenges of Nation Building
  • Pathways of Change
  • U.S. Relations with Nigeria
  • Conclusions
  • Index

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