Emirs, and other traditional rulers, following a differ- ent religion, or simply remaining neutral. It is possible to pursue several of these paths consecutively. Rare is the member of the Tijaniyya who does not also recog- nize the authority of the Sultan or Emirs of Kano, Zaria Katsina, and so on. Many Christians in the north still acknowledge the historic roles performed by these rul- ers and their continued politico-religious importance.
Yet even so, the weakness of the north’s economy allied to the failure of the federal, state, and local au- thorities to provide meaningful social services and the persistence of corruption, often forces people to take sides. Indeed, they frequently do so for no other rea- son than to gain access to the welfare provisions made by the various organizations. This makes no mention of those who actually agree with what these groups argue and seek to achieve, or their explanations of what measures need to be taken to make the lives of northern Nigeria’s inhabitants better. Moreover, the failings of the federal, state, and local governments do little but destroy popular confidence in both secular- ism and democracy. Why support a political system that has failed so completely to improve peoples’ lives and has now become so corrupted that it is arguably an obstacle to progress?
Given, then, that the political, economic, and social conditions in northern Nigeria are currently so condu- cive of Islamic radicalism, the challenge confronting the United States and the broader international com- munity is as great as it is urgent. Without doubt, its ultimate goal must be to encourage the implementa- tion of reforms to eliminate these conditions. As else- where throughout the Islamic world, the promotion of good governance and economic prosperity holds the key to achieving a lasting solution. Yet as past experi-