Throughout the Sahel, the semi-desert stretch below the Sahara, various militias and jihadist groups are trading huge amounts of weapons and supplies to each other. This booming terrorist corridor is shaking the foundation of the all too unsteady nations in the region. France is once again fighting Islamists in Mali, while also lending support to a number of its other former colonies in the region. The ruins of the Libyan state have become a convenient arms depot and shelter for militants from many countries; since a re-stabilization of the country looks at best unlikely, it will be so for quite some time.In and below this region lies Nigeria, now the largest economy in Africa, a longtime friend and even proxy of the United States on the continent, and a country beset by its own Islamic Caliph-aspirants: Boko Haram. It is worth considering what America can do to make sure this useful and often promising country doesn’t fall into chaos.John Campbell of the Council of Foreign Relations makes several proposals to that end in a recent report, advising that the United States should do what it can to help Nigeria keep control of its terrified and bloodstained northern region. He doesn’t suggest an outpouring of money or of soldiers, but rather a careful strategy to support Nigeria’s Muslims in their opposition to the Islamists, lend a helping hand for the upcoming elections, and press Abuja to clean up its corrupt military culture and end human rights abuses.Perhaps most controversially, he suggests that the United States locate a consulate in Kano, the largest city in northern Nigeria. Kano was the site of an attack on a mosque last week that left several dozen dead and more injured. (NB: Campbell’s report was released before this incident.) But, as he notes, the United States has maintained consulates in war-torn regions before. Though this suggestion seems like something of a long shot, his point is worth considering. If the United States continues to be involved in Nigeria and the Sahel as a whole (in which Nigeria’s northern region partially lies), then some form of presence in the region is at least worth considering.In the more immediate term, Nigeria’s upcoming elections in February promise to provoke a wave of violence. The elections often play on religious and ethnic tensions, and this time there is another danger: Boko Haram has ambitions for statehood, and it is likely to block the vote in the north and perhaps do what it can to terrorize voters elsewhere. For the ongoing stability of the country, it is important that this election be seen as legitimate. The United States, Campbell advises, can provide some measure of support for fair elections as well as keep watch for potential provocations of violence from its embassy in Abuja.Nigeria’s problems aren’t easily solved, and it is still possible that Boko Haram will get its religious kingdom in the North. But a stable Nigeria is important to Africa, and it is important to us—not only for our interests on the continent but for the longterm global war on terror. The weak states of Africa could be incubators of “boondock jihadists”, as we’ve called them, for decades. While these militants, like Boko Haram, may be far more inclined to terrorize and subjugate locals than attack the West, they can still provide materiel, training, and moral support to jihadists in Syria, Iraq, and perhaps Europe. The prospects for containing this threat, and likely for saving thousands of lives in Africa, will be much dimmer if the Nigerian state falters, let alone fails.