Patrimonialism and Military Regimes in Nigeria

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Military regimes in Nigeria exhibit patrimonial characteristics such as personal rule, absence of separation between the public and private realms, patron-client administrative networks, veneration of the ruler, massive corruption, ethnic/sectional-based support, and repression of opposition and violation of human rights. Most of the dangers posed by military rule to democracy is not really because of its intrinsic itarian posture, although it is the most perceptible. It is the patrimonial tendency in military rule that creates the most transcendent and pernicious effect on democracy because of unconcealed ethnic/sectional alignment of regimes. This generates inter-ethnic acrimony and rivalry, in effect, delegitimizes the state and state power, and consequently, engenders an uncongenial environment for cultivating democracy. (A. J. of Political Science: 2001 5(1): 146-162)

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... The visionless mindset among government functionaries was given expression by the then military head of state, Yakubu Gowon, through his assertion that money was not Nigeria's problem but how to spend it (Alubo, 2008). The results were grandiose white elephant projects, widespread official corruption and mismanagement of government funds (Ikpe, 2000;Falola and Heaton, 2008). ...
... In other words, the state became the major pillar and engine of the Nigerian economy, thus making the public sector more powerful than the private sector. As Ikpe (2000) and Ikpeze et al. (2004) have pointed out, with the acquired importance of the public sector, corruption blossomed, enabling public officials to pursue their private, ethnic and communal interests. This distortion in the Nigerian economic system spawned the ground for the festering of corruption as top government officials took advantage of the dominance of the public sector in the economy to create opportunities to build private fortunes. ...
... Considering the unconstitutional manner through which military regimes came to power and the military ethos of "spoils of war", successive military leaders found it difficult, or more appropriately, were emasculated by the notion of esprit de corps, to ensure the reign of discipline in the use of state resources. Ikpe (2000) notes that public officers under Gowon were enamoured of political backlashes for corrupt practices and as such "they acted as if they were provincial chiefs in a decentralised patrimonial order" (p. 153). ...
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the seeming paradox that underpins Nigeria’s war on corruption. This paradox centres on the undue interference of the presidency in the war against corruption. This interference has resulted in selective prosecutions and a deceleration in the tempo of the anti-corruption crusade. Design/methodology/approach The study used an admixture of primary and secondary data to evaluate whether indeed Nigeria is fighting against corruption to win it. The primary data were derived from key informant interviews. A total of ten diverse experts were interviewed through the instrumentality of unstructured set of questions, which were administered to them with room for elaboration. The secondary data were sourced from archival materials. Findings The findings of the study centre on three key issues: a characteristic one-sidedness in the prosecution of alleged corruption offenders by the anti-graft agencies. Those with pending corruption cases who have decamped to the ruling All Progressives Congress have had their cases placed in abeyance. There is evidence of the politicisation of the war against corruption as well as evidence of weak institutionalisation, which robs the anti-corruption agencies of the capacity to act independently. Practical implications The anti-corruption war may likely be derailed if the operational efficiency of the anti-graft agencies is not enhanced and their independence guaranteed. Social implications If the anti-corruption crusade fails, it will have multiple negative domino effects on national development and quality of life of the Nigerian people. Originality/value The paper is original because no recent study has interrogated the declining efficiency of Nigeria’s anti-graft agencies or linked this declining efficiency on weak institutionalisation and interference from the presidency.
... General Aguiyi Ironsi staged the coup that caused the demise of some southwestern and northern elites and as a result ended the First Republic. To settle this score, which was perceived as an attempt for Igbo/southern ascendency, the northern officers in the military circle staged a countercoup that ended General Ironsi's premature administration and restored the status quo to the northerners (Ikpe, 2000). This was the first ethno-regional conflict that the country first witnessed which opened up a floodgate of similar incidences that have plagued the country ever since. ...
... For instance, some of the literatures explore the relationship between clientelism and accountability (see Lindberg, 2010;Vicente & Wantchekon, 2008;Chanie, 2007;Ogundia, 2009 andKeefer, 2003;Olarinmoye, 2008). Other studies focus on the nature of relationship between client and patron (see Omobowale, 2008), the relationship between clientelism and ethnic conflicts (see Keefer, 2008;Ikpe, 2000), the godfathers or patrons (see Albert, 2005), clientelism in relation to democracy (see Walle, 2003). Another set of literature traces the theoretical roots of the concept of clientelism. ...
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This study examines political insecurity and how that leads to human insecurity in Nigeria between 1999 and 2007. The study answers important questions on political insecurity, its indicators and factors leading to it. The study employs quantitative and qualitative methods to provide an in-depth analysis of the problem. Cingranelli-Richards (CIRI) and Political Terror Scale (PTS) datasets are employed in analyzing the problem under study. Furthermore, the study identifies three major factors leading to political insecurity in Nigeria i.e. clientelism, state weakness and military intervention in the domestic politics. The major conclusion drawn from the study affirms that political insecurity leads to human insecurity in Nigeria. Finally, the study recommends that researches of this nature should be encouraged in the academia and government authorities and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) should work together in bringing an end to the fatal problem of political insecurity in Nigeria
... The world over, military dictatorship is known as a government ruled by decrees and sustained by gun power which the actors in government does not recognized the constitutional role of the people they governed (Olorunsola, 1977;Oko, 1997). As such, the military in the case of Nigeria suspended the Nigerian constitution during the military era before the return of power from the military to the civilian rule in 1999 (Ikpe, 2000;Terwase, Yerima, Abdul-Talib, & Ibrahim, 2016). More so, the Nigerian government during the civilian rule established constitutional laws to govern the affairs of the country with effective use of the 1999 Constitution (Wehner, 2002). ...
... Therefore governance is the totality of the process of constituting a government as well as of administering a political community. Although government according to Ikpe (2000) exists in both the private and public sectors governance on the other hand is the total ability to organize, synthesize and direct the various actions of the working part of government machinery in order for such a government to perform meaningfully, credibly, and acceptably. The deepest cause of development failure is not a lack of resources or international isolation. ...
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p>The administration of democratic governance since 1999 throughout the fourth republic has had chequred history of low productivity arising from inability to provide the much needed goods and services by governments to its citizens at different strata’sthroughout the federation. These have impacted on the provision of goods and services. The study revealed that the fourth republic has battled with governance hindered by weak institutions responsible for provision of goods and services. Thus the study revealed within the integration theorists that unity and effective and efficient institutions to administer effectively is sacrosanct and inevitable for sustenance of good governance. To arrive at this conclusion the study reviewed different literature on the above subject matter and recommend reorganization and effective implantations of rules and procedures for sustenance of good governance and accountability is necessary. The study relied on qualitative sourced data for analysis.</p
... This as Diamond (1988) noted, explains why elections are fought with intensive ruthlessness and ferocity in Nigeria. The patrimonial exchanges have given a distorted meaning to two democratic processes in Nigeria: representation and accountability (Ikpe, 2000). Any state officer whether appointed or elected is regarded by his/her community as their bona fide representative (patron) in that government. ...
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Most multi-ethnic countries consider the attainment of national integration as one of their prime aspirations as national entities. In the Nigerian federal context, the plurality of her composition from inception as an independent nation in 1960 has made national integration challenging. This connotes that ethnic diversity has become a clog in the wheel of the progress of the most populous country in Africa. In consideration of the foregoing, this paper beamed its searchlight on leadership's failure to integrate the diverse ethnic groups in the country despite formulating various policies and mechanisms such as the federal character principle to redress the problem. The intention of the principle of federal character is commendable, unfortunately the application and operation of the principle tended to divide rather than integrate Nigeria. The paper found out that incapable leadership and faulty federal practice accounted for the botched attempts at integrating the different ethnic groups in the country. Data for the paper was derived largely from secondary sources, while the Social Functional theory was adopted. The paper concluded that for the attainment of national integration in Nigerian federation, principles such as justice, equality, democracy and true federalism must be appreciated and pursued as universal values rather than twisting them to suit particularistic interests. The paper amongst others recommended that no single group or bloc should be allowed to further have dominion over the political arena over and above other groups that make up the federation.
... Elective politics and civilian elites' access to public power and resources are essentials for elitemasses patronage exchanges. Unlike elective regimes that rely on mass mobilisation, the military acquired and exercised power by coercion, and were mostly involved in administrative patron-clientelism (Ikpe 2000). ...
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It is considered axiomatic that, as victims of public corruption, the masses will support anti-corruption policies. However, Nigeria’s anti-corruption campaign initiated in 2015, faced stern rejection by sections of the masses who, through the ‘Bring Back Our Corruption’ counter-campaign, blamed the anti-graft programme for deepening socioeconomic misery. Why did the same segments of the masses who called for anti-corruption measures during the 2015 election as victims of corruption turn around to resist the war on corruption? This study claims that while there has always been the potential for popular hostility to anticorruption policies in Nigeria, only in the post-2015 period have all necessary conditions intersected to provoke mass resistance on the scale of the Bring Back Our Corruption pushback. These conditions include the degree to which the masses have become embedded in patron-client relations, the extent to which the subsistence of the masses depends on patronage from political patrons, and the intensity and coverage of the anti-corruption campaign.
... For many, the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 1986) is the penultimate 'paradox of plenty'. With more than three-quarters of government revenues derived from hydrocarbons (IMF, 2013), Nigeria's rentier state has long been notorious for oil politics and patrimonial accumulation (Schatz, 1984;Ikpe, 2000;Omeje, 2005). This has given rise to entrenched ethno-regional commercial and bureaucratic classes that serve primarily to articulate and advance the interests of international capital at the expense of domestic productive investment (Vaughan, 1995;Omeje, 2005). ...
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Nigeria's once thriving plantation economy has suffered under decades of state neglect and political and civil turmoil. Since Nigeria's return to civilian rule in 1999, in a bid to modernize its ailing agricultural economy, most of its defunct plantations were privatized and large new areas of land were allocated to ‘high-capacity’ agricultural investors. This paper explores the local tensions associated with this policy shift in Cross River State, which, due to its favorable agro-ecological conditions and investment climate, has become one of Nigeria's premier agricultural investment destinations. It shows how the state's increasing reliance on the private sector as an impetus for rural transformation is, paradoxically, crowding out smallholder production systems and creating new avenues for rent capture by political and customary elites. Moreover, as Nigeria's most biodiverse and forested state, the rapid expansion of the agricultural frontier into forest buffer zones is threatening to undermine many of the state's conservation initiatives and valuable common pool resources. The paper goes on to explain why and how private sector interests in Cross River State are increasingly being prioritized over natural resource protection, indigenous rights over the commons, and smallholder production systems.
... In short it is one of the most unpleasant places on earth! "Stomach Infrastructure" and Buhari's Patrimonialism A resultant effect of the Nigeria's politics of failure is the entrenchment of patrimonialism in Nigeria (Shopeju and Ojukwu 2013;Ikpe 2000Ikpe , 2009, "where state apparatus is appointed by and responsible to the top leader" (Weber 1947). Due to the turmoil in the political history of the country (Section 6), power was increasing taken away from the regions and concentrated at the centre in the hands of few powerful individuals in government. ...
Nigeria is currently embroiled in festering internal political crisis that could undermine its territorial integrity. The centripetal forces that have held the fragile union of various nationalities in Nigeria are waning, due to continuous political tensions orchestrated by unjust and unfair treatment of citizens, bolstered by ethnic and religious differences. The political tensions were tremendously heightened by the 2015 presidential election, which elicited fears that pointed to disastrous consequences. Three years after, the tensions are yet to abate, with increased calls for self-determination by different parts of the country. This provoked the need to investigate the political undercurrents that have persisted in the country, especially those experienced during the 2015 election, to understand how they may have shaped current events in Nigeria. The conceptual framework of this work was guided by the geopolitical theory of “politics of failure”. Connection of current events to Nigeria’s constitutional history was made, and the role it played in foisting a fragile foundation for the country was explored. Geospatial techniques were used to assess political dynamics in the country and their implication on the shrinking ligaments of Nigeria’s unity. This study found that the 2015 general election revealed a strongly divided country. Emerging political fault lines suggest that there is a strong potential of its eventual breakup. With the approaching general elections in 2019, there are indications the country might disintegrate in a violent way, if certain issues are not urgently addressed. Measures including extensive devolution of power, confederation, conduct of self-determination referendum and proportional representation were explored as possible panaceas to the problem. Full text link:
... Moreover, within political orders qualified as "neopatrimonial," patronage networks infuse and intersect and overlap with formal bureaucratic hierarchies (Bayart, 1989(Bayart, /2006Erdmann & Engel, 2006). In many cases, this applies to hierarchies in both political and military institutions, in part as there is a mutual influence between the two (Ikpe, 2000). For instance, rulers' efforts to maintain control over the armed forces often follow patterns of co-optation and coercion that are heavily shaped by patronage logics, which in turn reinforces the salience of patronage within the military institution (Howe, 2001). ...
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This article analyzes the effects of patronage networks on cohesion in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It shows that while patronage networks provide support to individual military personnel, they undermine both peer and commander–subordinate bonding. They promote unequal service conditions and statuses and link these to extra-unit and extra-military forms of social identification, which are further reinforced by soldiers’ living and generating revenue among civilians. Furthermore, they impair meritocracy and frustrate the extent to which commanders live up to their subordinates’ expectations. As they fuel internal conflicts, often around revenue generation, and foster bad service conditions and distrust toward the political and military leadership, patronage networks also undermine institutional cohesion. The article concludes that cohesion formation in the FARDC follows different patterns than in well-institutionalized and well-resourced militaries. Given that cohesion impacts combat performance and norm enforcement, these findings are relevant for defense reform efforts and military cooperation.
... The existing literature proclaims that dictatorship has adverse implications for political, economic and social aspects of life. In terms of politics, it hampers the institutionalisation and stabilisation of democratic norms in societies [Ikpe (2000)]. Also, it boosts patronage political culture and encourages the development of clientalistic networks [Wintrobe (2000)]. ...
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Since the recent emphasis on institutions for overall economic development of the countries, the research in this strand has expanded enormously. In this study, we want to see the impact of political institutions on economic development in pure cross-country setting. We take the Human Development Index (HDI) as a measure of economic development and use two alternative measures of dictatorship. We find that dictatorship is adversely affecting economic development in our sample of 92 countries. For instance, transition from extreme dictatorship to ideal democracy would increase HDI by 17 percent. Moreover, our results are robust to alternative specifications and the problems of endogeneity and reverse causation as is shown by the results of 2 Stages Least Squares (2SLS).
... 68 Consequently, a militarization behaviour among those in power is most likely to "breath" high levels of income inequalities and ethnic fractionalization. 69 In the same vein, some scholars have argued that, contrary to the popular view that dangers posed by military rule relate to its intrinsic authoritarian regime, 70 it is the patrimonial tendency in military rule that creates the most transcendent and pernicious effects on democracy. South Sudan's bouts of conflict and the successive peace-making attempts divulge a vicious inter-ethnic acrimony and rivalry, particularly between the Dinka and Nuer. ...
Peace and conflict dynamics in South Sudan are intertwined with political governance, institutional capacities, and leadership. Nevertheless, in the specific South Sudanese intractable civil wars since signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, territorial and economic governance are also certainly strictly connected to any possible prospect of sustainable peace for the country. As such, after carefully defining these concepts, this article emphasizes that territorial governance in South Sudan relates to boundaries definition and to the division of the national territory in states with a certain degree of autonomy. The issues and divergences engendered by territorial governance are intertwined with economic governance concerns. The uneven distribution of natural resources (especially oil) produces wealth and power redistribution concerns that are at the core of contentious relations between social and ethnic groups. These circles of tensions rapidly degenerate into conflict in a context of widespread poverty, inequality, and consequent social vulnerability. The article defines and illustrates a "good enough" territorial and economic governance framework for the South Sudanese case study.
p>This article explores Africa’s development challenges from a public administration service delivery capacity perspective. The paper contends that African countries lack a well-coordinated central policy making machinery of government which has the capacity to set major development objectives of government and ensure service delivery consistency. The paper further notes that an efficient public sector is a prerequisite to any meaningful development in Africa. Public bureaucracies are viewed as the vehicles through which the struggle toward development and national building can be achieved. The paper has relied on documentary sources and the contribution represents a modest attempt to shed some light on the ongoing debate on the efficacy of Africa's public management institutions. </p
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The "neopatrimonial" character of African states has increasingly been invoked to explain the politics of agricultural stagnation across the continent. This article summarizes the literature on neopatrimonialism, reviewing how analysts have applied the concept in studies of food and agricultural policies in Africa. It then draws out some of the key contributions of such an approach, and describes limitations, both methodological and substantive. Finally, it asks how and why the concept has been deployed, and recommends greater circumspection, research, and refinement.
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Una nueva interpretación de la formación histórica de los estados modernos con base en el examen de los procesos metanastásicos
The policy and donor communities have placed great importance on fixing ‘failed states’. World leaders have cited failed states as one of the greatest threats to the global community. Nevertheless the concept of the failed state is currently subject to a backlash from the academic community. Scholars have criticised the failed states literature on theoretical, normative, empirical and practical grounds. We provide a brief overview of these main concerns and offer a more systematic method for measuring ‘state failure’. Coming up with better ways of assessing how states underperform will enhance our understanding of how institutional decay affects stability and development and, most importantly, will provide an improved system of early warning for practitioners.
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In this essay, I examine Teco Benson’s 2002 film, Formidable Force, which was released three years after the transition from military dictatorship to democratic rule in Nigeria in 1999. Specifically, I focus on how the film critiques political leadership and its insistence on patriotic and morally-responsible citizenship, as well as citizen-law enforcement collaboration as imperatives for social change in Nigeria. In proposing this reading of the film, I seek to contribute to the meager but growing body of scholarship that analyzes the socio-political issues that Nollywood films raise.
In postcolonial Africa, the military has become an actor in politics, often in ways that can be described as unprofessional. This paper focuses on the manner in which the Zimbabwean National Army (ZNA) has become heavily politicized since independence, directly supporting the regime of President Robert Mugabe while denigrating the opposition political party. The military metamorphosed, to all intents, into an extension of President Mugabe’s political party, the ZANU-PF. I argue that even though the military is expected to subordinate itself to a civilian government, the ZNA is highly unprofessional, in- and outside the army barracks. The ways in which politics came to be mediated by army generals, as “war veterans” serving in the military, directly influenced not only how soldiers who joined the army in postindependence Zimbabwe were promoted and demoted, but how they lived their lives as soldiers in the army barracks. This article is based on fifty-eight life histories of army deserters living in exile in South Africa.
Although impeachment as the outcome of constitutionalism is significant in good governance, narrow political affiliations, institutional corruption, and the absence of democratic tenets among politicians hamper its proper application in Nigeria and Indonesia. The impeachment in both countries reveals a weaponization of the process for parochial gains and there is a penchant for using the process to remove elected officials for personal and political reasons. This study comparatively analyzes the impeachment procedures in Nigeria and Indonesia to suggest measures to strengthen and safeguard the procedures from abuse. The methodology deployed in this study is essentially a desk review of both primary and secondary materials. Given the comparative analysis of the commonalities and variant impeachment procedures in Nigeria and Indonesia, the application of the constitutional provisions for impeachment in both countries remains fraught with neo-patrimonialism and narrow party considerations, exacerbated by corruption, selfish interests, and ulterior motives to be in power endlessly. Moreover, wieldy impeachment provisions and weak institutional regimes propagate the abuse of impeachment. Hence, public participation in the impeachment process, amendment of the impeachment provisions, appointment of judges by independent bodies, and the prosecution of corrupt politicians and judges by effectively implementing extant anti-corruption laws are some of the steps to suppress the abuse of impeachment in Nigeria and Indonesia. While these measures are vigorously implemented, the abuse of the impeachment procedures will be repressed. KEYWORDS: Constitutionalism, Impeachment Procedures, Indonesia, Nigeria.
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Since the restoration of democratic governance which heralded the Fourth Republic in 1999, the hopes and aspirations of the citizens for improved dividends of democracy for their material wellbeing have been truncated. This has given way to disillusionment and appalling state of living of the majority of the populace. The dwindling quality of government is not unconnected with influence of neo-patrimonial network and fraudulent electoral process. The electoral heist, which robs the political elites the much-needed legitimacy makes them, creates an amalgam of political network amongst major power merchants within the country for regime stability and political survival. The ruling elites are therefore not answerable to the citizens but to this network to the detriment of the common man. This work appraises the democratic governance in the country since the military disengaged from the nation's politics in 1999; it argues that the nature of Nigeria's electoral process and neo-patrimonial network ultimately result in the low quality of government. Credible electoral process is not only sine qua non for standard democratic governance but also a crucial element for the realisation of the much-desired dividends of democracy for the citizens. Abstract-Since the restoration of democratic governance which heralded the Fourth Republic in 1999, the hopes and aspirations of the citizens for improved dividends of democracy for their material wellbeing have been truncated. This has given way to disillusionment and appalling state of living of the majority of the populace. The dwindling quality of government is not unconnected with influence of neo-patrimonial network and fraudulent electoral process. The electoral heist, which robs the political elites the much-needed legitimacy makes them, creates an amalgam of political network amongst major power merchants within the country for regime stability and political survival. The ruling elites are therefore not answerable to the citizens but to this network to the detriment of the common man. This work appraises the democratic governance in the country since the military disengaged from the nation's politics in 1999; it argues that the nature of Nigeria's electoral process and neo-patrimonial network ultimately result in the low quality of government. Credible electoral process is not only sine qua non for standard democratic governance but also a crucial element for the realisation of the much-desired dividends of democracy for the citizens. The study makes a case for the dissolution of power through the framework of fiscal federalism. Moreover, the entire electoral architecture of the country must be restructured with the view to minimising fraud and engendering a responsible democratic government.
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This play, Emi Caesar, is an adaptation of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. In my adaptation, I go back to 1830 Oyo Empire to show how tribal bigotry which led to its collapse still undermine both the Yoruba and Nigeria’s quest for quality leadership, unity and lasting peace today. In my adaptation I portray how tribal bigotry prepared the ground for the assassination of Adegun Onikoyi and the eventual fall of the Oyo Empire, I also highlight the epistemological imperative, which centres on the understanding that there is an intricate balance between fate/destiny in relation to human actions.
Politics in Nigeria is still associated with the Hobbesian state of nature, where might is right; and consequentially, instability and restlessness are the two distinguishing features of the Nigerian state. Oppression and the use of brutal force have remained instruments of political coercion in a democratic system that guaranteed equality and respect for human dignity. The powerful people in society often have their ways to access political patronage at the expense of the public interest. Godfatherism or patron-client politics, to all intents and purposes, has remained a formidable political instrument of domination by a few individuals who, through the manipulation of rules, seek to advance personal interests at the expense of the public. This chapter discusses the issues around the overbearing influence of few political elites on the machinery of government, especially in the exercise of legislative power of impeachment. The chapter presents an analysis of the activities of powerful political elites who have dominated the control of the process of government by inverting the rules associated with the practice of the presidential system.
On the eve of the New Year 1985, many festivity-minded citizens must have been jolted out of their seasonally-induced cheerful mood (and, for some, general complacency) by a very timely, and grim, Washington Post editorial which pointed to a tragic situation developing in Africa: ‘It is becoming evident that Africa is in a state of breathtaking and grievious crisis whose… likes may not have been seen anywhere in the West since the 14th century Plague’, the editorial said, before going on to unfold a long list of gloomy statistics, among which: ‘Five million African children died this year; another five million were crippled by malnutrition and disease. Five million Africans are currently refugees. Twenty-nine of the world’s 36 poorest nations are to be found south of the Sahara desert… The percentage of Africans living in absolute poverty rose from 82 per cent to 91 percent through the 1970s. In 1983 per capita food production was down by 14 percent from 1981.’2
Recent discontent with the notions of the state and state formation in the African context and an accompanying preoccupation with the ‘decline of the state’ has much to do with the way that the state and state formation have been conceptualized. There has been much discussion of late of the ‘overdeveloped’, ‘underdeveloped’, or ‘soft’ state, plus ‘uncaptured’ populations and ‘exit options’. These notions were a reaction to the shattered illusions of a post-colonial voluntarist view of the state that was held by many analysts and actors alike. It had various modernization, democratic, neo-colonial, socialist and revolutionary versions. There was an assumption of malleability of both state and society, of linear success and increasing strength that has been increasingly belied by evidence of uneven (and even diminishing) control, resilience of traditional authority patterns, poor economic performance, debt and infrastructure crises, the emergence of magendo or second economies, reductions in administrative performance, curtailment of capacities, political instability and resistance and withdrawal. Underlying these new discussions is often a tone of surprise and bewilderment. Believing that a broader historical, comparative and analytic perspective is useful, this chapter will present and delineate the notion of the patrimonial administrative state as the underlying form of domination in Africa today, above which floats a host of varying and changing ‘regime types’.
This article proposes revisions to the theory of political transitions by analyzing patterns of recent popular challenges to neopatrimonial rule in Africa. The approach is explicitly comparative, based on contrasts between Africa and the rest of the world and among regimes within Africa itself. Arguing against the prevalent view that transitions unfold unpredictably according to the contingent interplay of key political actors, the authors contend that the structure of the preexisting regime shapes the dynamics and sometimes even the outcomes of political transitions. They find that in contrast to transitions from corporatist regimes, transitions from neopatrimonial rule are likely to be driven by social protest, marked by struggles over patronage, and backed by emerging middle classes. Following Dahl, the authors compare African regimes on the basis of the degree of formal political participation and competition allowed. They find that regime variants—personal dictatorship, military oligarchy, plebiscitary one-party regime, and competitive one-party regime—are associated with distinctive transition dynamics. Whereas transitions from military oligarchies are typically managed from the top down and are relatively orderly, transitions from plebiscitary systems often occur discordantly through confrontational national conferences. A consolidated democracy is least likely to result from the abrupt collapse of a personal dictatorship and is most likely, though never guaranteed, from a graduated transition from a competitive one-party regime. In general, getting to democracy is problematic from all regimes that lack institutional traditions of political competition.
The concept of political clientelism is one if the few genuinely crosscultural concepts available to political scientists for the comparative study of transitional systems. As a descriptive concept, political clientelism helps us uncover patterns of relationships which deviate markedly from those ordinarily associated with class or ethnicity. As an analytic concept political clientelism provides crucial insights into the internal dynamics of social and political change. Moreover, if, as some contend, patterns of resource allocation are more meaningful indicators of political development than their conceptual opposites, political clientelism may well supply the critical “missing link” between micro- and macro-sociological or system-centered theories of political development.
Military Rule, Democracy and the Post-Military State
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