Imperialism and Ethnic Politics in Nigeria, 1960-1996

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Africa World Press, 1998 - Political Science - 174 pages
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The book examines the class dimension of the Nigerian political crisis since 1960, when this culturally diverse nation assumed the stature of independent nationhood from the British imperial state. The writer posits that the ruling elite, whether constituted in the military or the civil society, consistently used ethnicity to secure its own class domination in the absence of a coherent class ideology.
The author argues that the military transition agenda to a "democratic state" is nothing more than a ploy by the military elite and its civilian partners to perpetuate themselves in power in spite of international opposition.

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In the book, "Imperialism and Ethnic Politics in Nigeria, 1960-1996", the developmental problems Nigerian economy, as a whole is facing, are not the focus of attention of the author, although the author does situate his study within the framework of the broader literature on economic development. The book focuses on the peculiarity of the Nigerian state as a whole and how it illuminates the current period of crises in African political institutions. The specific study that generated the empirical data is not the primary focus of this work either but the Nigerian state as a whole and how it illuminates the current period of crises both economic and political.
The Nigerian state as a whole, the author argues, is embroiled in crisis of elite corruption and bad governance. His attempts at explaining the crisis of the post-colonial African state focus on the distinctively new ways in which social classes, ethnic groups and military interact in the present, although these groups emerged in the colonial period or earlier. Professor Badru explains the "half-life" of ruling classes, political elites, and mobilized ethnic groups that compete in the Nigerian and other African politics. This shortening of the "half-life" of these key social groups is the new development that distinguishes the contemporary period in Badru's work.
The fast eroding conditions of class, elite, and ethnic hegemony, according to Badru, have created a new phenomenon in African political systems. A pattern of constant illegitimate circulating of economic, political, and ethnic elites who are unable to hold on to power and rule effectively. They are illegitimate because these elite fractions come to power with the aid of the fractions of the military. They are ineffective because of their fragile hold on power and practically zero prospects of becoming legitimate. Also, the economic and financial conditions under which regimes must survive can only be extractive, coercive and anti-developmental. This illegitimate circulating of of elites, the author argues, stands in sharp contrast to the stable hegemony of the colonial state or of classes and elites in other post-colonial societies such as India and Caribbean.
The phenomenon of a state governed by military, economic, political an ethnic elites that are caught up in a whirlwind of illegitimate circulation is the novel idea that I have taken away from this book. It is both a fascinating and fruitful hypothesis with great potential for application to other African states. It demonstrates the depths to which the author plunged the heart of this crisis and the boldness and originality of his suggested explanation. It differs significantly from the explanations of other scholars in a way that compliments them. This makes it a very distinct and at the same time a very valuable contribution. This is a work of high quality and originality. I was genuinely impressed by it.
Independent scholar.


The Geography and People
Regional Selfrule
Critique of the Liberal Democratic State
The Neocolonial State
Imperialism and Underdevelopment in Nigeria
The Military and Politics
The Civil War
Economic Crisis and State Repression
Transition to Democratic Rule?
Democratic Front Against the Military
False Unity

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About the author (1998)

Pade Badru is an associate professor in the department of Pan African Studies and Sociology at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.

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