Friday, February 12, 2010

Nigeria's Failures



An eclectic panel of Nigerians discusses her political troubles on Al Jazeera. The impunity of military forces in committing extrajudicial killings is discussed at the outset. For some reason, a strong and unrestrained military is here discussed as characteristic of a "failed state." In Nigeria, however, military rule has been the mechanism through which the state reconstitutes herself when sectarian forces threaten to tear her apart.

The focus of the panel discussion then shifts to the recent transfer of power from Yar'Adua to Goodluck Jonathan. Some panelists appear to fear that if the acting president succeeds, his Christian affiliation may raise issues of the balance between Islamic and Christian leadership in the government.

My overall impression from the discussion is that the "failed state" concept is a rhetorical weapon wielded primarily by partisan players both inside and outside the country. Another common trope or rhetorical weapon used by members of the panel is the accusation of "corruption." Since Nigeria first gained independence from the colonial power, Nigerians have taken power through both electoral and military means. The state survives but her divisions persist.

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4 Comments:

At 10:22 AM , Blogger SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

"In Nigeria, however, military rule has been the mechanism through which the state reconstitutes herself when sectarian forces threaten to tear her apart."

Are you sure about that?

 
At 8:13 AM , Blogger Don Thieme said...

No. Elected politicians do seem very sectarian. Some military dictators have definitely taken punitive actions against particular regions. I suppose that Abacha would be an example of such.

In many countries, including Nigeria at times, military governments are accepted by citizens as more stable and economically progressive than the civilian. The problem is that there are fewer checks and balances than under civil rule.

 
At 11:41 AM , Blogger SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

"military governments are accepted by citizens as more stable and economically progressive than the civilian."

That is definitely true. Nigeria's first coup is a prime example but so also are recent West African coups such as that in Guinea and Niger where many took to the streets in support. Ironic that in Guinea, the next time the people took to the streets to oppose the junta, women were assaulted, and violence against all was the order of the day.

Anyway, there was an interim military government that organized Nigeria's 1999 elections. It had clear guidelines and came to be post Abacha, hence a lack of patience for military leadership.

Hoping all is well.

 
At 6:35 PM , Blogger Don Thieme said...

All is well here, although we have threats of a 30% budget cut to education from the legislature.

I enjoyed the exchange of ideas. You always ask probing questions!

 

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