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Conflict and Divergence: Government and Society in Nigeria

  • Bolanle Awe

The paper postulates that the potential conflict and divergence between the Nigerian government in its formal structure and its beneficiaries, the Nigerian people, are crucial factors in the development of the country's present crisis. Its discourse adopts the historical approach, starting from the precolonial to the colonial and independent periods of Nigerian existence. It shows that, while governance in the precolonial period ensured largely the participation and the accommodation of the interest of all, including the women and the youth, the later periods witnessed the alienation of the ruled from the rulers; an elite group, the British and their Nigerian successors, made the interest of the majority subservient to their own. The long period of military rule only increased this alienation. Other potential factors of conflict such as ethnicism and religion intensified the subsequent crisis, which was further aggravated by the oil boom and the corruption it encouraged. The paper concludes by acknowledging civil society's valiant efforts to challenge government's increasing arbitrariness in spite of its constraints, and asserts that only democratic governance and a sovereign national conference to establish the basis of accommodation can provide a lasting solution to Nigeria's present predicament.


L'article postule que le conflit et la divergence potentiels entre le gouvernement nigérian dans sa structure formelle et ses bénéficiaires, le peuple nigérian, est un facteur crucial dans le développement de la crise actuelle du pays. Son discours adopte une approche historique, depuis l'époque pré-coloniale jusqu'aux périodes coloniales et de l'indépendance, de l'existence nigériane. Il montre que, tandis que le gouvernement, dans la période pré-coloniale, s'assurait largement de la participation et de l'accord des intérêts de tous, y compris des femmes et des jeunes, les périodes postérieures ont été le témoin de l'aliénation des gouvernés par un groupe d'élite, les Anglais, et leurs successeurs nigérians ont rendu l'intérêt de la majorité subordonné à leurs propres intérêts. La longue période militaire a seulement augmenté cette aliénation. D'autres facteurs potentiels de conflit comme l'éthnicisme et la religion, qui ont intensifié la crise qui en suivit -laquelle a été aggravée par le boom pétrolier et la corruption qu'elle avait encouragée - sont ici soulignés. L'article conclut en reconnaissant les vaillants efforts de la société civile pour défier le caractère arbitraire croissant du gouvernement, malgré ses contraintes, et affirme que seulement un gouvernement démocratique ainsi qu'une conférence sur la souveraine nationale pour établir la base d'un accord peuvent fournir une solution durable à la fâcheuse situation actuelle du Nigéria.

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African Studies Review
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