Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The "real" regime of Nigeria?

Most Americans would be hard pressed to name a state in Nigeria. But government in states may be the most important part of the regime.

Nigeria’s state elections are more violent than national ones
Most of Nigeria’s 36 states, which elect[ed] their governors and state legislators on March 9th, have [politically linked [gangs of hoodlums who terrorise the city.] These straddle the boundary between party cadres and criminal gangs. They embody the rottenness of state politics in Nigeria. Governors run their states like personal fiefs, amassing fortunes and grooming protégés once they have hit the two-term limit. Although outsiders often pay little attention to them… Since states are in charge of budgets for education and health, their elections are also more important.

When it gained independence from Britain in 1960 Nigeria was divided into three regions. These were later split into four regions before being sliced up into 12 states in 1967 as the government tried to prevent the secession of one of the regions, Biafra. It was brought to heel in a bloody civil war. In the years since then the country has been further diced into 36 states, several of which are failing…
Governance is often abysmal. At the end of 2017, according to BudgIT, an NGO, only two states generated more than half of their revenue internally, instead of relying on federal handouts…

Checks on governors’ power are feeble. Although each state has its own legislative assembly and electoral commission for local polls, Maliki Kuliya, who served as Mr Kwankwaso’s justice commissioner, says that these are “just appendages of the executive”. As a result, political parties usually matter less than the politicians who constantly switch between them…

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