POLI 11 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Nigerian Civil War, Westminster System, Presidential System

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21 May 2018
Nigerian Political History:
Ruled either by military or civilian rule in a 50/50 time frame.!
Hopeful Years, Flawed Legacy: First Republic 1960(1963)-66
Westminster Democracy, Northern domination
-Their constitution was created as a blueprint of the British political system, they had a
parliament, house of commons and lords and it was federalist and there was more
distribution of vertical powers than there was in Britain but that was the extent of the
-The North was much poorer than the South, they didn’t benefit from British colonialism
as much the South did so they expected redistribution, which the South was against.
The first republic became dominated by northern interests and alienated the South and
so became a big reason for the military coup to follow.
-They recognized the queen.
The Ethnic Disaster: Civil War 1967-70
Biafran Secession
-Nigeria’s military coup slid into a full out civil war between the North and the South.
-The South-East (Biafra) tried to break away from Nigeria and they were defeated.
-The dominant ethnic group in the Biafra was banned from ever being president of
Nigeria. This group was the major reason for the movement.
A Land of Great Promise: Military Rule 1970-79
Reconstruction, Oil Boom
-The gov saw the economic growth and wanted to transform Nigeria with all this oil one int o
a prosperous country. The military had a lot of money to spend.
-All the money rolling in meant lots of corruption escalated, people in gov jobs made money
and ultimately a lot of money was wasted.
License to Loot: Second Republic 1979-83
US-Style Democracy
Escalating clientelism and corruption
-The constitution of the second republic was drawn up by looking at the flaws of the first
constitution gave a lot of power to the majority in the house of commons and relied on
politicians restraining themselves, did not work in Nigeria.
-They looked to the US and drew up a presidential system, with federalism, they wanted
a house of representatives, a court system that was a check on the elected officials as
well. Introduced more checks and balances and separation of powers.
-This did not work very well either.
The Remedy that Did Not Work: The Military Returns 1983-90
Prompted by civilian mismanagement
Mounting economic crisis
-The creators introduced so many checks and balances it became a gridlock.
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-The second republic also faced the oil market fall, the money didn’t flow in, Nigeria still
faced all of rebels with corruption, standard of life fell.
-The military saw this and intervened, due to the economic crisis and mismanagement.
The Elusive Transition: Third Republic 1990-93
Still-born republic
-There were attempts to have elections, the military still wanted to be careful about how
they wanted to control the party more carefully. They still wanted the US system but with
reforms. They didn’t want many regional parties but two main ones which were either left
leaning or right leaning, also based on the US.
-At the election, the two final candidates were a Northerner and a southerner but most of
the military was northern and deiced to annul this election. So this reform is considered a
stillborn one.
The Years of Long Knives: Abacha Dictatorship 1993-1999
Most severe repression of any regime
Ken Saro-Wiwa (environmentalist activist) executed 1995 by the dictatorship
Gross corruption
-He didn’t just impose a very harsh regime on Nigeria, he was also very corrupt but died
in 1999.
Durable but Fragile Democracy: Fourth Republic 1999-Present
U.S. Model reinforced
Longest period of civilian rule
-The same US constitution was applied in the fourth republic.
Military Rule:!
How often has the military intervened?
7 Successful Coups, plus several failed attempts
29 out of 57 years (slight majority of time)
Longest period of military rule: 1983-1999
Who are the military rulers?
Generally northerners since Civil War (1967-70)
Why can they take power?
They control the guns and “boots on the ground”
Nigeria has large armed forces
One of few effective organizations
Why do they want to take power?
Disgusted with corruption, inefficiency (esp. 1975, 1983) this was certainly part of the
2nd overthrow
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