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Pulling Nigeria Back from the Brink

Once again, Nigeria seems at the brink of disintegration, this time with the threat by parliament to impeach President Olesegun Obasanjo. But Nigeria has always been remarkable for producing surprising outcomes. Time and again, Africa "experts" issue dire warnings about the country's impending implosion, and time and again, Nigeria holds together, however precariously.

The forces working to undermine Nigeria's unity and stability are as varied as they are powerful. But the factors that hold together this huge, socially diverse country of over 120 million people are equally potent and tenacious, constantly pulling the country back from the brink--even as the most sanguine foreign observers brace themselves for the worst.