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The Nigerian State


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Title: The Nigerian State

The Nigerian State
Sovereignty, Authority, and Power
  • Since 1960, neither leaders or citizens can
    decide on how the country should be governed.
  • National Question- How should Nigeria be
    governed and should it remain as one nation?
  • Constitutionalism The acceptance of a
    constitution as a guiding set of principles. 8
    constitutions have been written- often suspended.
  • 1914- 1st constitution
  • 1999- Most recent and heavily amended.

  • Government legitimacy Priority
  • National Question?
  • Plagued with Fragmentation tendency to fall
    apart along ethnic, regional, or religious lines.
  • Moved Capital to center of the country to
    alleviate regional tensions
  • Military One of the few national organizations-
    source of stability.
  • Corrupt leaders General Ibrahim Babangida
    (1985-1993) and General Sani Abacha (1993-1998).
  • Citizens have little faith in leaders.
  • Flawed 2007 election.

Political and Economic Change
  • Since 1960 Series of regime turnovers- From
    military coups to federal democracies.
  • Parliamentary system to a Presidential System.
  • All Military dictators promised to transfer power
    to civilian hands.
  • Power in the hands of elites.
  • Fraudulent Elections.

Citizens, Society, and the State
  • Democratization not easy- Challenges
  • Poverty 60 below poverty line.
  • Large gap between rich and poor (Mexico) Low
    economic growth.
  • Health Issues HIV/AIDS- 1 in 11 AIDS sufferers
    in the world lives in Nigeria .
  • Literacy Below world average of 87.

  • Similar to Russia- Ethnically-based civil wars.
  • Chechnya Conflict and Biafran Civil War.
  • Undermined legitimacy of the government.

  • Ethnicity between 250-400 ethnic groups
    variety of religions, and languages. Live in
    separate enclaves.
  • Religion China/Russia communism controlled
    ethnic tensions with a unifying ideology.
    Nigeria has no unifying ideology. Sharia law?
  • Region/north vs. south 1955- 3
    regions/Christians in the south, Muslins in the
  • Urban/rural differences Political organizations
    and interest groups found in cities, greater
  • Social class Social division runs deep. Wealthy
    own resources and control the government.

  • Prebendalism Max Weber personalized system of
    rule in which all public offices are treated as
    personal fiefdoms.
  • Rural areas.
  • Fosters corruption.

Civil Society and Voting Behavior
  • 1999 Civil society has strengthened.
  • Trade unions and professional organizations.
  • National Union for petroleum and Gas workers
  • 1959 First national elections.
  • Many elections canceled or postponed.
  • Numerous political parties form around
    charismatic figure (no party loyalty).
  • 1999 Local, state and national elections held,
    many were fraudulent- participant rates

Attitudes Toward Government
  • Most distrust government.
  • General Abacha.
  • Skeptical about democracy.
  • Do not believe elections are fair.
  • Changing? Nigerian identity?

Protests, Participation, and Social Movements
  • Democracy since 1999 Brought ethnic-based and
    religious movements to address grievances.
  • International oil companies- targets. (Niger
  • Challenge for new president Yar Adua .

Linkage Institutions
  • Political Parties Regionally and Ethnically
    based. Factionalism led to multiparty system
  • The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) 1998
    Supported Olusegun Obasanjo (Christian) and Umaru
    Yar Adua (Muslim). Gained majority of National
  • All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) Candidate in
    2003 won 23, 19 in 2007. (Buhari)
  • Action Congress (AC) Merged in 2006 with many
    minor parties. 2007 won 7 (Abubakar)
  • Trend Parties drawing to many ethnic groups
    elections still fraudulent and violent-difficult
    to claim legitimacy.

Elections and Electoral Procedures
  • Citizens vote on 3 levels local, state, and
  • National Elections President, representatives
    to the House of Representatives, and senators
    from their states
  • Presidential elections Candidate must receive an
    outright majority, or a second election may take
  • Legislative elections Senate has 109 seats, 3
    from each of the 36 states and one from the
    federal capital. Elected by direct popular vote.
    360 representatives are elected from single
    member districts by plurality vote. No run-offs.
    Regional representation with ethnicities trying
    to form coalitions. Weak.

Elections and Electoral Procedures
  • Election Fraud
  • Sustained 3 popular elections in a row.
  • 2003 election Observers saw ballot boxes being
    vandalized, stolen, and stuffed with fraudulent
    votes. 20 deaths.
  • Independent National Electoral Commission
    disqualified 6 million names.
  • 2007 election was worse Many ballots had only
    symbols, not names, ballot-box theft, long delays
    in the delivery of ballots and a shortage of
    ballots. Unused ballots were marked and stuffed.
    200 deaths.

Interest Groups
  • Play an important role.
  • Based on religion. (Christian Association of
  • Labor Unions Independent and Powerful before
    1980s. Corporatism or government approved
    interest groups, limited their power. 2007
    Nigeria Labor Congress organized a strike of city
    workers against raising oil prices for
    Nigerians. (subsidized)
  • Student Groups.
  • Populist Groups Human Rights groups
  • Business Interests Work in collaboration with
    Military leaders. Corrupt. Some businesses have
    operated outside the government influence in the
    private sector.

Mass Media
  • Well-developed , independent press. (in
    comparison to other developing nations)
  • Reflect ethnic/regional divisions.
  • Most outspoken newspapers in the south.
  • Radio is the main source of information.
  • Newspapers and TV in the cities.
  • All 36 states run their own radio stations.

Political Institutions Federal, Presidential
  • Executive Branch Powerful President
  • Popularly elected.
  • Head of state and government.
  • 4 year terms, maximum of two terms.
  • Oversees day to day operations of the government
    and the military.
  • Appoints government ministers (after confirmation
    of the Senate) and assure that they come from
    all 36 states. The Federal Executive Committee
    (president and ministers) assures that enacted
    laws are properly implemented throughout the
  • The VP assists the president in all tasks and is
    nominated by the presidential candidate as his
    running mate.

The Legislature
  • National Assembly Bicameral.
  • Senate 109 members 3 reps from each state and
    one from the Federal Territory, Abuja.
  • House of Representatives 360 members.
  • Members from both houses serve 4 year terms and
    are popularly elected.
  • Pass laws for the assent by the president.
  • Either house may originate legislation, but must
    pass both houses and the president before law is
  • Low representation of women 6.4 in the House
    and 3.7 in the Senate.
  • Only recently, checks the power of the president.

The Judicial Branch
  • Interprets the laws in accordance with the
  • Judicial Review exists in theory.
  • Single unified federal and state court system.
  • Sharia courts may coexist at the state level
    Complicates the system.
  • Supreme Court Highest Court.
  • Election Tribunals.
  • Supreme Court-Highest Court in the land.
  • Court of Appeals.

State/Local Governments
  • All 36 states have a popularly elected governor
    that serves 4 year terms
  • Unicameral State House Assembly
  • Representatives are elected for 4 year terms from
    local government areas
  • The number of House Assembly Members in each
    state is comprised of 3 times the number of seats
    it has in the House of Representatives
  • 774 Local governments-each comprising of a
    chairman and elected councilors

The Military
  • Seen as a disciplined organization with the
    capacity to make decisions efficiently and
  • By becoming active in political affairs, the
    military lost its credibility as a temporary,
    objective organization that keeps order and
    brings stability
  • National character-all regions/ethnic groups
  • The best and brightest join (Muslims especially)
  • Generals had the ability to keep control of the
  • Fragile Democracy

The Bureaucracy
  • Source of employment
  • Replaced British and Indians after Independence
  • Mostly from the South
  • Oil revenues allowed increase in bureaucracy
  • Access to oil revenues, coupled with political
    instability led to corruption. Trend difficult
    to reverse.
  • Para-statals Many companies owned by the
    Nigerian government (provide social and welfare
    services, utilities) and are not efficient.
  • Corporatism occurs when the government chooses
    para-statals to provide political input. State
    controls private interests as well. Disband the
    system in order for democracy to survive?

Public Policy
  • Military rule Top-down policymaking process.
  • Power concentrated in the presidency.
  • Input comes to the president through patron
  • Loyalty pyramid. Receive spoils.
  • Rule based on self-interest.
  • Began in colonial times.
  • Must shift to ideology based on the welfare of
    the people.

Economic Issues
  • Loyalty Pyramids squandered Nigerias wealth
  • Dependent upon oil reserves- Feeds corrupt system
  • At Independence-Self Sufficient food supply,
    developed transportation system, produced and
    exported a variety of agricultural products.
  • 1970s, developed large scale industries, did not
    diversify the economy nor maintain infrastructure
  • 2001, implemented revenue sharing by pooling oil
    revenues and dispersing those revenues throughout
    the country. Lack of faith in the government
    caused widespread protests in the south. Wasnt

Structural Adjustment
  • Oil prices plummet in the 1980s, Nigeria
    unprepared. (Mexico) Owed large sums to IMF and
    World Bank
  • Structural Adjustment Shock Treatment- Tried to
    diversify the economy, reduce government
    spending, privatize para-statals
  • Terms of IMF and World Bank difficult to
  • Huge national debt

  • State Role is to control the nations revenues
    and in spending earnings, or rents, which come
    from oil.
  • Rent-seeking behavior Communities, individuals,
    and groups compete for profits.
  • All controlled by the government.
  • Most Nigerians do not have access to rents, and
    participate in the informal economy (unreported
    incomes from small-scale trade and subsistence

  • Positive impact.
  • Power is shared.
  • Greater political participation.
  • Backed by the constitution
  • President must receive 25 of the vote in 2/3 of
    the regions
  • Negative Promote corruption, Rent-seeking

Sings of Democratization
  • Some checks and balances between government
    branches Legislature rejected Obasanjos
    attempt to change the constitution to allow him
    to run for a third term.
  • Some independent decisions in the courts
    Abubakar was allowed to run for president.
  • Revival of civil society.
  • Independent media.
  • A peaceful succession of power Two civilians in
    a row
  • Improving Freedom House Scores Currently,
    partly free.

Major Public policy Challenges
  1. Economic and Political Reform
  2. Oil and the Environment
  3. Ethnic/Religious Tensions and Human Rights
  4. Civil Military Relations
  6. Regional Instability