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Crisis and (No) Reform in Nigeria's Politics

  • William Reno

Regime transition programs have played contradictory roles in Nigerian politics, from the end of the colonial era to the present. The latest transition program is scheduled to culminate in the installation of a civilian regime in mid-1999. An analysis of this process, through reviewing recent academic writing on this subject, reveals that transition programs play a contradictory role in Nigerian politics. Some observers see the possibility of designing a political system that will force Nigeria's rulers to heed popular interests and lessen politicians' use of public office for personal gain. Others regard transition programs as elaborate ploys to entrench private privilege under new institutional guise. The analysis in this essay finds more support for the latter view. The essay identifies elements of the latest transition program that point to continuity with previous politics. This development now results in the appearance of factional conflicts and political violence common to other countries such as Congo, Sierra Leone, and Liberia that have suffered “state collapse.”


De la fin de l'époque coloniale jusqu'à aujourd'hui, les programmes de transition de régime ont joué des rôles contradictoires dans la politique du Nigeria. Le point culminant du dernier programme de transition doit être l'instauration d'un régime civil au milieu de l'année 1999. L'analyse de ce processus, à travers l'examen de récentes publications universitaires sur le sujet, révèle que les programmes de transition jouent un rôle contradictoire dans la politique du Nigeria. Certains observateurs y voient la possibilité de mettre en place un système politique qui obligerait les dirigeants du Nigeria à tenir compte des intérêts du peuple et à réduire l'utilisation faite par les politiciens de leurs fonctions officielles à des fins privées. D'autres considèrent ces programmes de transition comme des stratagèmes élaborés destinés à maintenir en place les privilèges privés sous de nouveaux voiles institutionnels. L'analyse du présent essai penche du côté de ce dernier argument. Cet essai identifie les éléments du dernier programme de transition qui indiquent une continuité avec les politiques précédentes. Ce développement résulte aujourd'hui dans l'apparition de conflits de faction et de violences politiques que l'on retrouve dans d'autres pays comme le Congo, la Sierra Leone et le Liberia qui ont été victimes de “l'effondrement de l'état.”

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African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
  • URL: /core/journals/african-studies-review
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