region from Abuja’s control. And in the north, memo- ries of the Caliphate of Sokoto still linger as ordinary people and politicians alike dream of establishing an independent Islamic state of northern Nigeria.
Indeed, of all Africa’s anomalous states—and there are many—Nigeria remains one of its most fragile. Yet the difficulties currently confronting the FG are at least partly of its own making. Decades of corrupt, abusive, and inept government have left millions of Nigerians feeling frustrated and desperate. With little faith left in either mainstream politics or politicians, hundreds of thousands of them are drawn to more radical propos- als and the individuals who make them. Some of these schemes advocate the complete overhaul of Nigeria’s existing political, economic, and social orders. Yet oth- ers trumpet the rights of particular ethnic groups. Still others call for the secession of this or that region. Per- haps unsurprisingly, given the prevalence of corrup- tion in Nigerian public life and the selfish behaviour of the country’s leaders,1 these suggestions are often rooted in religion and expressed in moral terms.
It is no coincidence that the past 15 years have wit- nessed the exponential growth in the number, size, and socio-political importance of religious movements in Nigeria. Within the Christian community (which constitutes roughly 40 to 45 percent of the total pop- ulation), there has been a proliferation of evangelical and “health and wealth” churches.2 Among Nigerian Muslims (who make up about 50 percent of the popu- lace), there has been a surge in support for sharia, cul- minating in its reintroduction in 12 of the country’s 36 states.3 In fact, this is one of the clearest examples of religion and faith-based ideas and practices being used politically, even if some of those who called for sharia’s implementation were motivated solely by reli-