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NIGERIA HAS EARNED a reputation as a rogue state, a status blamed by left-wing opposition politicians on the right-wing laissez-faire policies of the national government. Millions of internet subscribers worldwide have received email offers of fraudulent riches from a Nigerian cottage industry that rakes in millions of dollars annually—and has become a sore point between the Nigerian government and the U.S. State Department.

Nigeria has the largest population in Africa, and like its third-world neighbors, the country's leftist politics are involved in the rise of Islamic extremism, as well as the effects of globalization and multinational corporations.

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Believers in a strong centralized form of government are quick to blame this national embarrassment on Nigeria's 1999 constitution, which ordains a weak national government with limited authority in ...

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