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Prebendal Politics and Federal Governance in Nigeria

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Abstract

Richard Joseph’s “theory of prebendal politics” provides and provokes stimulating analyses of Nigerian federalism (1987, 1998). The theory shows that the constituent ethnicities of Nigeria’s federal society are the bases for the organization, mobilization, and legitimization of prebendalism’s ethno-clientelistic networks of patronage, corruption, and rent seeking. Similarly, the innovative Nigerian principle of “federal character,” according to which the country’s ethno-regional diversity must be reflected in all governmental appointments and disbursements, has effectively transformed prebendalism (or the personal, factional, and communal appropriation of public offices) “from an informal norm of political competition into a directive principle of state policy,” as claimed by Joseph (1998, 56). More important, the fragmentation of Nigeria into a multiplicity of centrally funded, subnational state and local governments has vastly expanded and multiplied the access points and conduits for the individual and sectional appropriation of public power and resources. Indeed, the Nigerian federal system operates almost exclusively as a mechanism for the intergovernmental distribution and ethno-political appropriation of centrally collected oil revenues. In short, the system abets, and is enmeshed and subsumed in an overall context of, prebendal, neopatrimonial politics.

Keywords

  • Constitutional Reform
  • Ethnic Fractionalization
  • Constitutional Review
  • Human Right Watch
  • Nigerian State

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© 2013 Wale Adebanwi and Ebenezer Obadare

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Suberu, R.T. (2013). Prebendal Politics and Federal Governance in Nigeria. In: Adebanwi, W., Obadare, E. (eds) Democracy and Prebendalism in Nigeria. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137280770_4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137280770_4

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, New York

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-44785-5

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-137-28077-0

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