Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, November 24, 2006

More on Ekiti and corruption in Nigeria

Journalists' accounts of politics in Nigeria are consistent in their descriptions of the corruption -- especially in the state governments. Lydia Polgreen's account in the New York Tiimes of campaigning with a candidate for governor in Ekiti offers some details that other reporters have neglected: like how revenue sharing works and how candidates appear to be captives of local party organizations. Both of those examples reinforce the idea that Nigeria's patron-client model of politics (sometimes called prebendalism) is running full steam ahead.

Money and Violence Hobble Democracy in Nigeria

"So lucrative is public office here that even in a backwater like Ekiti, a state of only 2 million people in a nation of 130 million, the state house and the spoils that come with it are apparently worth killing for. Of Nigeria’s 36 governors, 31 are under federal investigation, mostly on suspicion of corruption, and 5 have already been impeached, including Mr. Fayose in October. He is now in hiding...

"It has been seven boisterous years since Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and an anchor for the entire region, shed its military rule and ostensibly became a democracy. But the transformation has been slow and stumbling, hobbled by a political culture of graft and intimidation that has led to widespread neglect and disillusionment...

"New democracies naturally suffer from the letdown of high expectations, but the drop in Nigeria is virtually unparalleled on the continent...

"Nowhere is Nigeria’s democracy in deeper trouble than at the state and local levels, where the most bruising contests for power take place in a bloody, winner-take-all system in which the voters are all but superfluous...

"The leaders of Nigeria’s 36 states are princes of a political system that rewards executive power and does little to curb corruption. Governors get a check each month that represents their state’s cut of Nigeria’s booming oil fortune, and have almost no one to answer to for how they spend the money...

"'Money,' Mr. Kayode Fayemi [a candidate for governor in the tiny state of Ekiti in southwest Nigeria, at left] said. 'It is the language of Nigerian politics. As much as you want to get away from that, you also have to be mindful of those short-term things you must do.'"

NB: Example of Wikipedia problems.

The link to the article about prebendalism in the first paragraph is to an October 9th version of a Wikipedia article at Answers.com. That article no longer appears at Wikipedia. It seems that someone didn't like the version that was online. The prebandalism article has been changed 10 times this year. When I looked at it on 23 November, the article was a pale version of the one quoted by Answers.com, and not one that would be very useful to students of comparative politics. You've been warned again.


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