The Nigerian Prospect: Democratic Resilience amid Global Turmoil

by Richard Joseph

In a time of global turmoil, democratic resilience has assumed enhanced importance. Africans have suffered disproportionately from terrorist attacks and millions have sought refuge away from their homes. Although many of their countries have experienced sustained economic growth, the benefits have been very unequally shared. Nigeria is at the forefront of these discordant processes. National elections were successfully conducted in 2015 despite the persistence of the Boko Haram insurgency. Years of high petroleum revenues have fueled political corruption while core infrastructures remain deficient. Despite the global authoritarian upsurge, however, Africa’s largest country has reaffirmed its democratic commitments. It is against this turbulent background that I delivered a public lecture – “State, Governance, and Democratic Development” – at a conference to launch the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy.[1]


I congratulate the organizers of the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP) for the timely creation of this institution. The ISGPP is led by several prominent academic and policy scholars under the Chairmanship of Nigeria’s esteemed elder scholar and statesman, Professor Akin Mabogunje. Dr. Tunji Olaopa, the School’s Executive Vice-Chairman, writing in The Punch newspaper on January 24, set forward ambitious aims for the Ibadan School: combining theory and practice; bridging the gaps between policy research and execution; rethinking and rehabilitating Nigeria’s administrative capacities; and tying critical discourse to appropriate training. The central theme of this conference, Dr. Olaopa declared, is “Getting Government to Work”.

We live in very difficult times. New York Times Columnist Thomas Friedman wrote recently about the prospect of “seismic shifts in the foundational pillars of the global system.”[2] Nigeria, a country of 175 million people, must increase its capacity to meet domestic, regional, and global challenges. I began composing this talk the day after the terrorist attack in Ouagadougou on January 15, 2016.[3] The people of Burkina Faso overthrew longtime ruler, Blaise Campaoré, on October 31, 2014. With the assistance of units of the armed forces, they blocked an attempt in September 2015 by a presidential guard contingent to halt re-democratization. Then fair elections were conducted in November 2015 to establish a new government. After overcoming these great challenges, a group of terrorists struck. This tragedy will adversely impact the country’s development as seen in countries with similar experiences.

Today, in schools and movie theatres in America, newsrooms and cafés in Paris, airports and trains in London and Brussels, and virtually anywhere any group of persons convene in northern Nigeria, terror can strike. This is our global reality.[4] With globalization has come global vulnerability. Information technologies are being harnessed to promote global terror. Those living in countries with flimsy state structures, and with deep ethnic and religious fissures, can fall further behind with each atrocity.

While strengthening security instruments, more thought and effort should be invested in improving institutions, especially those of government, and generating better policy outcomes. At a colloquium at Brown University in March 2012 on the topic, “Can the Nigeria Project be Salvaged?”, I suggested targeting the challenges posed by growth, democracy, and security. “There is currently no effort,” I stated, “to address these overlapping issues in the continent by any think tank.” They are raised here with even greater urgency.

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(left to right) ISGPP Chairman Professor Akin Mabogunje and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.


Governance and Democratic Development

Nigeria must move to the forefront in the region, in the continent, and globally in interwoven ways: building effective state institutions, advancing democracy, and democratizing development. “Democratic Development” is a reversible concept: Develop Democracy and Democratize Development. Decades ago, many colleagues and I rejected the contention that democracy could not thrive in late-twentieth century Africa.[5] Today, we reject the argument that Africa cannot achieve inclusive growth and development via democratic institutions. Well-remembered is Professor Claude Ake’s poignant remark: “Silence, we are Developing!”

At the center of these processes is “governance”, a notion central to my work over three decades.[6] Today, improving governance is universally recognized as a priority concern of all societies. It has become even more so because of heightened economic competition and the increased risks posed by the mismanagement of government revenues. A focus on governance includes government authorities, as well as those outside the state sphere. Governance concerns how public goals are established, how they are pursued, and how the power to accomplish them is acquired, utilized, and held accountable. The bundle of these practices, and the norms that frame them, we call institutions.[7]

I have written often about the challenges posed by the Boko Haram insurgency, the critical 2015 elections, and the persistent erosion of state institutions.[8] Soon after last year’s election results were announced, I wrote: “Will Nigeria now experience greater domestic peace and inclusive development? Will the achievement gap between competitive clientelism and the developmentalism of authoritarian states like Ethiopia and Rwanda be bridged? Will the Nigerian 2015 elections, despite the initial positive outcomes, devolve into another prologue to the past? Or is the country on the verge of a significantly new political era?” “The destiny of 175 million Nigerians,” I concluded, “rests precariously on the answer.”

Prebendalism and Dysfunctionality: Continuity or Change?

I first arrived in Nigeria in February 1976, exactly 40 years ago, to join the University of Ibadan as a lecturer in political science. Shortly before my arrival, an attempted coup claimed the life of the head of state, General Murtala Muhammad, and some of his fellow officers. Yet the transition to constitutional civilian government was not interrupted. General Olusegun Obasanjo and his colleagues oversaw Nigeria’s transition to the Third Republic on October 1, 1979. In that process, many severe challenges were overcome including the boycott of the Constituent Assembly in April 1978 over the proposal to create a Federal Sharia Court of Appeal.

I was present in Nigeria for all but the final days of this complex process of political renewal. Just a year after my arrival, and thanks particularly to Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, I was invited to participate in the March 1977 Conference on the Draft Constitution at the Institute of Administration, Zaria.[9] My researches, 1977-1979, left me inspired but also dismayed. How Nigerians thought and acted regarding the pursuit of, and utilization of, government offices was troubling. I saw a fundamental contradiction in Nigeria’s political, social, and economic life. Hence the formulation of the theory of prebendalism. And also hence the title of the first chapter of my 1987 book, Democracy and Prebendal Politics: “A Democracy That Works”.

This challenge is still before us. Thanks to Professors Wale Adebanwi and Ebenezer Obadare, and to Governor Dr. Kayode Fayemi and others, an international conference was convened in Lagos in November 2011 to conduct critical reflections on prebendalism.[10] I am not completely thrilled by the successful reception of this framework of analysis first advanced in 1983. Who can be satisfied that Nigeria and other countries, such as post-apartheid South Africa, can be discussed today as constitutional but also prebendalized republics? A public policy design approach is needed: See a problem, study it, identify solutions, test prototypes, assess their impact, design optimal approaches given resources and other factors, and implement them. And such processes can be institutionalized and made self-perpetuating.[11]

In view of the persistence of prebendalist attitudes and behaviors, we should not be surprised that Nigeria’s former Petroleum Minister was arrested in London on charges of fraud and bribery and the huge sums involved. Or that individuals responsible for administering special budget allocations from the National Assembly for the purchase of weaponry and other matériel to prosecute the battle against Boko Haram stand accused of systematically diverting substantial sums for their own purposes and those of their cronies. Or that, after the expenditure of enormous funds to endow Nigerians with reliable electricity, the supply of electric power remains unpredictable and very inadequate. Or that many state and local governments have become sites for sharing funds rather than improving the provision of public goods and services. [12]

Professor Adigun Agbaje once memorably stated that he and the residents of his Bodija community provided for all their basic needs, including security. The only thing they had to look to the state for it could not guarantee, namely the supply of petroleum products although Nigeria is a major oil producer. Much of my work over the past four decades has been aimed at helping us see and understand these problems clearly in order to act more effectively to rectify them. We have to do much better connecting perception and diagnosis to prescription and execution. I will now speak briefly about several possible areas of focus for the ISGPP and other research and training institutions.

State Systems and Political Orders

I agree with the distinguished American scholar of Africa, M. Crawford Young, that the “state” is the fulcrum of political life and the central concern of the study of politics. Francis Fukuyama’s two-volume treatise, The Origins of Political Order and Political Order and Political Decay, is one of the masterful achievements of our time. And so is Crawford Young’s book, The Post-colonial State in Africa (2012) and Jeffrey Herbst’s States and Power in Africa (2000). Two decades ago, Achille Mbembe and Goran Hyden signaled the recomposition of political order in Africa. Today, it is a global phenomenon.

The important work of several Nigerian scholars – Peter Ekeh, Eghosa Osaghae, Rotimi Suberu among them – are vital to continuing these reflections. We need innovative thinking about State Systems and Political Orders.[13] Scholars mentioned above can be tapped to contribute, and so also can members of a new generation of brilliant analysts that include Pierre Englebert of Pomona College, Bo Rothstein of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, Rachel Riedl of Northwestern University, and Adrienne Le Bas of American University.[14]

Optimization and Productive Innovation

How can optimization and productive innovation be nurtured in Nigeria? Artistic production by Nigerians is often world class. Why, we should then ask, are optimization and innovation infrequently transferred to the work of public organizations? Why can Nigerians build and operate mega-churches but not quality public transport, public universities, public energy utilities and other service organizations? As Professor Ayo Olukotun stated in a recent column: “There is an intimate connection between our responses to medical emergencies and our governance woes, complicated by a national character that does not plan for the medium or long term.”[15] What he wrote about health facilities has been often repeated, by him and other commentators, about a variety of social sectors.

You cannot build capacity in the public domain if, for whatever reasons, you “do not plan for the medium or long term”. I recently came across the work of the d. School of Stanford University and was introduced to the concept and practices of “design thinking” in a book by Professor Bernard Roth.[16] In California, and especially Silicon Valley, the drive for optimization, creative innovation, and enhanced productivity, and the philosophical, psychological, and educational ideas associated with it, are being introduced to many countries and organizations. There is little point in repeatedly stating what does not work in Nigeria without devising ways to overcome norms and practices that reproduce the failure to do so.

George Soros, businessman, philanthropist, and civic activist, recently stated: “Recognizing a problem is an invitation to do something about it.”[17] Identifying a problem should be a trigger to start the process of seeking remedies. Olukotun, for example, refers to “unkempt government hospitals which have become incubators for diseases, poor quality of services and the shortage of medical personnel”. Regarding how many other sectors can the same be said? There is a need to leapfrog barriers and evade traps that have doomed Nigerian public expenditures to wastage, theft, and the diminishment of livelihoods.

Students of Community High School, Samonda, Oyo State, with Prof. Joseph at his talk on February 1. 


Students of Community High School, Samonda, Oyo State, with Prof. Joseph at his talk on February 1, 2016.

Claiming Democracy

My colleagues Michael Bratton and Carolyn Logan coined the important concept, “Claiming Democracy”, drawing on the extraordinary survey research of Afrobarometer.[18] The Center for Democratic Development in Accra, Michigan State University, and the University of Cape Town have partnered to create a large network of institutions devoted to the systematic study of democratization and democratic government. The Ibadan School should become an active member of the Afrobarometer network. Here I take the opportunity to salute the thousands of Nigerians who have fought to entrench constitutional democracy and have courageously defeated threats to it.

I also salute Professor Attahiru Jega for his bold and skillful leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from the 2011 through the 2015 national elections.[19] In many local debates and media commentaries, Nigerians ask: Since we are increasingly free to vote for candidates of our choice, and voting results are made to coincide with ballots cast, why are we so ill-served by federal, state, and local governments? How, they insistently ask, can our democracy evolve from the routine performance of certain acts, such as electioneering, to the performance of governmental duties that increase the supply of public goods and enhance public welfare? How, as Prof. Olukotun urges, will Nigerians overcome “the harrowing realities of everyday life” and pervasive government failings.[20] Finally, to what extent are formerly marginalized groups being incorporated into the demos or active citizenry? Few countries demonstrate “Claiming Democracy” as extensively and vigorously as Nigeria.

I will restrict my remarks today in view of how much I have already written on this topic. “Claiming democracy” recognizes that democracy is never fully won. The first prerequisite of democracy is the determination to build and defend it, and to steadily expand the demos to include formerly marginalized and disempowered communities. At a time when democracy is either in retreat, or severely stressed, Nigeria’s constitutional and pluralist democracy has acquired enhanced significance in the continent and globally.

Social Wealth

Oxfam recently announced that global inequality had continued to increase exponentially. Today, just eighty persons are estimated to control as much wealth as half the entire population of the globe.[21] As we meet, the first primary in the U.S. presidential race is taking place in Iowa. One of the major candidates, Senator Bernie Sanders, has pinned his candidacy on a campaign to reverse widening inequalities in America. Paradoxically, some support for Donald Trump also derives from such anxieties. The Ibadan School can take up these concerns. Nigeria has a long history of political leaders who were fervent advocates of what we now call “inclusive growth and development”. Among them I will mention today Mallam Aminu Kano and Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

I recommend to the Ibadan School and other Nigerian institutions the systematic study of Social Wealth and how it can be expanded. There can be a paradigm shift in thinking about wealth as not just individual/familial but also social.[22] In the latter case, W would stand for Water, E for Electricity, Education, and Environment, A for Agriculture, L for Lawful Governance, T for Transport, and H for Health and Housing. A country with high social wealth would be one whose citizens enjoy these attributes. Human progress is marked by steady increases and refinements in what are considered basic human rights. Nigeria should take the lead among nations in upholding the provision of social wealth.[23] As Paul Krugman, another New York Times columnist, forcefully argued, using the example of the polluted water supply in Flint, Michigan, government is central to the provision of public goods, another name for much of social wealth.[24]

Federalism and Conglomerate Governance

Less than ten percent of countries in the world are true federations like Nigeria, although several more have federal-like governmental systems. Nigeria’s commitment to federalism is remarkable, considering the major political oscillations the country has experienced. But Nigeria must make its federal system much more effective. According to Professor Olukotun, “Nigerian government is usually absent, with a few exceptions as one moves away from the centre.” It is of the utmost significance that the Ibadan School, and Nigerian university departments, return the focus of research to the study of “government” to which much attention was devoted during the first hopeful years of the republic. There is much important work to be done on comparative government and politics in contemporary Africa.

The management of diversity is a pre-eminent concern globally. Nigeria has managed profound diversities – of religion, ethnicity, and language – often via the institutions of creative federalism. While I am aware of the significant challenges that persist, I have come to agree with Professor Rotimi Suberu on the desirability of incremental over radical alterations of Nigeria’s federal structure.[25] The refining of federalism should be a key component of academic and policy studies in Nigeria. To be tapped in in this endeavor are the abundant experiences the country has had and opportunities for collaboration with scholars in other federations.

Conglomerate Governance is one of Nigeria’s major contributions to the governing of culturally and religiously complex countries. The notion of Nigeria as a “conglomerate society”, to my knowledge, was first introduced by Kenneth Post and Michael Vickers in their book, Structure and Conflict in Nigeria, 1960-65.[26] I have spoken about conglomerate governance in essays and talks, but the concept, its operations, and its implications remain to be fully explored.[27] The word “conglomerate” basically means “a number of different things or parts that are put or grouped together to form a whole but remain distinct entities.”[28] Peter Ekeh’s theory of “two publics”, Richard Sklar’s of “dual majesty”, and the writings of other scholars such as Eghosa Osaghae and John Paden, emphasize the importance of Nigerian understandings of legitimate authority in their diverse communities, and how governmental institutions must harmonize with these perspectives. Even more, the erosion of state systems in many countries today, especially in other plural societies, suggests the wider importance of conglomerate governance to peace and stability.


(left to right) Prof. Ayo Olukotun, Dr. Funso Adesola, Prof. Richard Joseph, Dr. Mashood Omotoso following a roundtable at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife-Ife.

Democratic Developmental Governance

This is a topic to which I have given much thought, especially since the conference on industrial policy in Pretoria in July 2012 under the leadership of economists Joseph Stiglitz, Célestin Monga, Justin Yifu Lin, and others.[29] The mantle of “developmentalism” has steadily shifted from democratizing to authoritarian political systems. Central to this thinking are reflections on the phenomenal growth of East Asian nations under authoritarian auspices. The theorizing about an authoritarian developmental path by Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, the adoption of such thinking by the leadership of the Chinese Republic, and the reflection of these perspectives in industrial policy advocacy by contemporary economists and government leaders in Ethiopia and Rwanda, challenge assumptions about the nexus between liberal democracy and capitalist economies.

Policymakers and thinkers, especially in large democracies of the less-developed world, must take it up. In India and Indonesia in Asia, Brazil and Mexico in South America, and Nigeria and South Africa in Africa, the challenge is particularly urgent. Hafsat Abiola has captured in a pithy phrase the crux of this challenge since the return of competitive party politics in Nigeria: “Politics crowd out good governance.” It remains to be demonstrated that there is a stable democratic path to building dynamic and inclusive economies in today’s global system. Researchers in the Ibadan School and other entities can draw on a wealth of intellectual resources, as well as the experiences of Nigeria’s 36 states.[30] Moreover, the sharp drop in global oil prices, in China’s overseas trade, and in the value of the Nigerian currency and the country’s foreign reserves bring to the fore, once again, the primacy of prudent state economic management.[31] Yet to be firmly demonstrated in Africa is that liberal and competitive democracy – whether in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia – can facilitate rapid and inclusive growth. The positive economic record in politically liberal countries as  Ivory Coast and Tanzania is a welcome contrast to the “autocracy/growth” narrative.

Religion and the Public Sphere

Societies world-wide are being torn asunder by religiously-motivated conflicts. Religion is a vital dimension of the Nigerian experience. Christian evangelism is just as propulsive as Islamism, while traditional belief systems are resilient. Often a subsidiary concern of social, and especially political, science research, religion and the public sphere must now be given higher attention by academic and policy researchers. At Northwestern University, the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA), together with the extensive documentation of the Herskovits Africana Library, represent major opportunities for research collaboration. Linkages can also be established with other entities such as the Center for Law and Religion of Emory University.

In this regard, I salute the pioneering work of the late Dutch scholar, Stephen Ellis, and his wife Gerrie ter Haar, on religion and politics in Africa. This work must be carried forward.[32] There is a long tradition in the study of Islam and other religions at the University of Ibadan and other Nigerian universities. Despite the continuing violent conflicts with religious ramifications in Nigeria, this nation has accomplished much in the accommodation of religious diversity. The large number of state, faith-based, and other organizations in Nigeria must be strengthened and nurtured for the long struggle ahead to restore religion as a source of amity rather than enmity among peoples.

Collective Security

Our era is one of permanent war. Military expenditures will consume substantial proportions of national budgets. Cyber warfare and data mining enhance insecurities. Trust, the essential ingredient of social life, is being driven behind ideological, ethnic, and sectarian ramparts. The post-Cold War interlude of western and especially American hegemony was short-lived. Militaries, such as Nigeria’s, can no longer contain and overcome security threats without significant assistance from other countries. Former colonial nations, especially France, have resumed a major role in African security affairs, and so do African states with robust intelligence operations and armies. American drone bases and special forces are expanding operations in Africa commensurate with perceived threats, especially from jihadist insurgencies.

What role can university-based researchers play with regard to this changing and complex security environment? Collective security cannot be left up wholly to the world of military and intelligence experts. Sites are needed in which discussion and analysis take place between such experts and their civil counterparts. I have benefited from presentations made by American security experts, notably in the Council on Foreign Relations and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Such presentations can increase understanding and awareness within scholarly and policy communities without breaching confidentialities. Civil and military experts can also benefit from conversations and debates outside the echo chambers of their professions. I look forward to exploring how assistance can be provided to expand similar forums in Nigeria.[33] In view of the jihadist insurgencies in many parts of West Africa, perennial group conflicts in the Middle Belt of Nigeria between herders and cultivators, and the severe impact of climate change on livelihoods, access to geospatial and other government-financed mapping technologies is greatly needed.

Effective Democracy and Facilitative Government

Thomas Carothers of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a productive and influential democracy scholar, published a searing essay: “Look Homeward, Democracy Promoter.” Carothers contends that “the deficiencies of democratic governance in the United States have snowballed in number and intensity, from the inability of the two main political parties to work productively together to the capture of the legislative process by elite interest groups to glaring shortcomings in the criminal justice system.” “Much more than many Americans seem to realize or admit,” he wrote, “the image of the United States as a global beacon of effective democracy is greatly out of date.”[34]

It came as a surprise that Robert M. Gates, the former director of the American Central Intelligence Agency, President of Florida A& M University, and Secretary of Defense under Republican and Democratic presidents, would add his voice to the chorus of dismay about “democratic dysfunctionality”.[35] On January 26, at a meeting of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Mr. Gates’ concerns about the U.S. government applied uncannily to Nigeria. He advocated the centrality of institutions and how the failure to fix them would have catastrophic consequences. Incompetence and corruption, he claimed, were growing exponentially in government bureaucracies of which he named several. How, he asked, do you reform broken institutions; make them cost-effective; reform the public service in the midst of a dysfunctional political environment; and get a buy-in from civil servants for bureaucratic reform and modernization? What is the role of leadership in the change process and the tools needed to motivate and empower subordinates in the public service? Mr. Gates concluded on a note that echoes the hopeful mission of the Ibadan School on Government and Public Policy: “Public institutions can be reformed. They can be shaped to succeed.”

To conclude, I reiterate the arguments made in my first paper following the 2012 Pretoria conference: “Industrial Policies in Contemporary Africa: The Transition from Prebendal to Developmental Governance.”[36] I argued for the promotion of a “facilitative state” which required the dynamic coordination of four factors: leadership, institutions, culture, and resources. The transition from prebendal to developmental governance, I contended, is possible under both authoritarian and democratic auspices. In either case, however, “a macro-institutional rupture” is necessary. Such a rupture implies a fundamental break from doing things in ways that have never, and will never, work.[37]

As Professor Olukotun points out at the start of a recent column, the Nigerian Challenge has echoes worldwide: “The failure, often catastrophic, of governments and institutions to deliver social goods, because of mismanagement, corruption, or indifference in varying combinations is a distinct feature of our era, not just in Nigeria, but across the globe.”[38] One of his recommendations goes to the nub of the challenge discussed here: “Government must embark upon massive institutional renewal backed up with public performance contracts and a charter of service for key government departments.”[39] The essential conversation on the Nigeria Prospect is underway. Whether sustainable progress will be made amid the disappointments and turmoil depends on whether Nigeria’s formidable intellectual, institutional, cultural, and economic resources will be harnessed for this mission by leaders at all levels of the Federation.


Copyright © 2016 AfricaPlus

[1] The conference took place on February 1-2, 2016. My talk was dedicated to the memory of four University of Ibadan colleagues, Billy J. Dudley, Sam Nolutshungu, W. A. Ajibola, and Sylvester Abumere, and a University of Jos colleague, Fred Tamen. This is an edited version of those remarks.

[2] “What If?”

[3] I began composing this abridged text on March 23, 2016, the day after the terrorist atrocities in Brussels, Belgium.

[4] In addition to the unceasing attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria and Cameroon, resort areas have suffered attacks in Tunisia and Côte d’Ivoire.

[5] This effort is discussed in many publications. Of particular interest is the bulletin, Africa Demos, produced by the African Governance Program of The Carter Center and now available online:

[6] And was the theme of my inaugural distinguished faculty lecture in the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ibadan, in November 2006: “Misgovernance and the African Predicament: Can the Code Be Broken?” This was also my inaugural lecture as a John Evans Professor at Northwestern University in October 2006.

[7] There are dozens of pertinent studies. Of particular note is the work of Bo Rothstein and his colleagues in the Quality of Government Institute, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

[8] These commentaries are available at,, and

[9] Also, thanks to close friends and colleagues such as the late Professor Omo Omoruyi, journalist Olufemi Ogunsanwo, and poet and political activist, Odia Ofeimun, I was afforded great access to the resumption of party politics during that period.

[10] An edited volume of essays was published in 2013 while Cambridge University Press reissued the following year my 1987 book. Wale Adebanwi and Ebenezer Obadare, eds., Democracy and Prebendalism in Nigeria: Critical Reflections (2013); R. Joseph, Democracy and Prebendal Politics in Nigeria: The Rise and Fall of the Second Republic (1987/2014). The first paperback edition was published by Spectrum Books (Ibadan, 1991).

[11] Innovations for Successful Societies at Princeton University is one of the organizations that have emerged to address this need:

[12] These issues are often discussed in the searing columns by Professor Ayo Olukotun in The Punch (Lagos).

[13] My recent essay, “Dilemmas of Democracy and State Power in Africa”, can be consulted: This essay first appeared in La Vanguardia, Dossier, No. 59, January/March 2016

[14] A current project on “Conflict and Instability in the Sahel”, co-directed by Rachel Riedl and Marina Henke, both of Northwestern University, should generate relevant analyses.

[15] “Lassa fever and our governance woes,” The Punch, February 22, 2016.

[16] The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life (2015).

[17] New York Review of Books, vol. LXIII, no. 3 (February, 2016).

[18] See their chapter in R. Joseph and A. Gillies, eds., Smart Aid for African Development (Lynne Rienner, 2009), and

[19] Mackintosh’s seminal study, Nigerian Government and Politics: Prelude to a Revolution was published by Northwestern University Press (1968), and Larry Diamond’s invaluable book, Class, Ethnicity and Democracy in Nigeria: The Failure of the First Republic (1988) has been reissued. Professor Jega obtained his doctorate in political science from Northwestern University.

[20] “Rising Misery in the Land”, The Punch, March 17, 2016.


[22] The enormous success of Thomas Piketty’s book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century: The Economics of Inequality reflects these global concerns. Of great impact also are the publications of Nobel laureate, Joseph E. Stiglitz.

[23] The Nigerian 1979 constitution recognized the pursuit of such objectives but did not make them justiciable, that is, enforceable by the courts. This provision was retained in the 1999 constitution. The South African 1994 constitution did entrench social and economic rights, matching the resources available to meet them. In this vein, Larry Diamond and Jack Mosbacher called for revenues from petroleum production in Nigeria to be provided directly to Nigeria’s people: Whatever the preferred mechanisms, it will increasingly be acknowledged that the amassing of extraordinary levels of personal and family wealth impedes the pursuit, and exercise, of democracy. For concerns regarding the United States, see Nicholas Kristof, “America The Unfair?”


[25] Highly recommended is Professor Suberu’s two-part essay on Nigeria after the 2015 elections: and

[26] Heinemann Educational, 1973.

[27] “Growth, Security, and Democracy in Africa,” Journal of Democracy (October 2014), “Boko Haram and the Nigerian Predicament” (October 2, 2014):


[29] For my articles that followed, see” Industrial Policies and Contemporary Africa: The Transition from Prebendal to Developmental Governance”, in Joseph E. Stiglitz, Justin Lin Yifu and Ebrahim Patel, eds., Industrial Policy Revolution II: Africa in the Twenty-First Century (2013); “Inclusive Growth and Developmental Governance: Africa’s Next Frontiers”, in Justin Yifu Lin and Célestin Monga, eds., The Oxford Handbook on Africa and Economics, vol. 1 (2015); and “The Growth-Governance Puzzle in Africa,” Foresight Africa 2016, The Brookings Institution (2016).

[30] For a close and critical examination of Nigerian growth challenges, see R. Joseph, K. Spence, and A. Agboluaje, “Corporate Social Responsibility and Late Industrialization in Nigeria” in Charlotte Walker-Said and John D. Kelly, eds., Corporate Social Responsibility? Human Rights in the New Global Economy (2015).

[31] The start of my work on the Nigerian predicament was marked by the publication of “Affluence and Underdevelopment: the Nigerian Experience,” Journal of Modern African Studies (1978). For the boom to bust cycle in Africa, see Norimitsu Onishi, “African Economies and Hopes for a New Era, Tumble”, The New York Times, January 26, 2016.

[32] A book manuscript on organized crime in Nigeria was completed by Dr. Ellis before his untimely passing.

[33] The creation of an Africa Security Initiative in The Brookings Institution, complementing the excellent work of its Africa Growth Initiative, is pertinent. So also can the Buffett Institute on Global Affairs at Northwestern University, the Pearson Center of the Harris School of the University of Chicago, and other institutions mentioned above.

[34] For a powerful earlier analysis of dysfunctionality in the American political system, see Francis Fukuyama, “America in Decay: The Sources of Political Dysfunction,” These essays were written before the primary contests for the American presidency, especially in the Republican party, deteriorated into name-calling and dueling extremism. Appointments to the Supreme Court, even in the opinion of Chief Justice John Roberts, have become clouded by partisan political conflicts.

[35] Mr. Gates has recently published a new book: A Passion for Leadership: Lessons and Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service (2016).

[36] Also available at

[37] I once applied the Myth of Sisyphus to regime alteration in Nigeria, constantly rolling the same boulder up the hill and starting the process again when it rolls back down. Democracy and Prebendal Politics, p. 38. The notion is more widely applicable. There are techniques developed to alter such behaviors as they concern institutions. I plan to learn more about them and work with others to apply them.

[38] “The Price of Disorder,” The Punch, January 27, 2016.

[39] Performance contracts and charters of service have been used in Rwanda. There is a global repertoire of what has and has not worked to reform state and private institutions. It can be accessed in association with experts who can conduct training workshops, assist research, and mentor interns.

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