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Nigeria Briefing Paper

Comparing nigeria with some of these countries

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Unformatted text preview: on these observations. Comparing Nigeria with some of these countries demonstrates the benefits of comparison. Nigeria Briefing Paper Copyright © 2005 by College Board. All rights reserved. Available at apcentral.collegeboard.com. 1 Civil/Military Relations Since independence in 1960, Nigeria’s unstable political history can be characterized by a series of military dictatorships interspersed with brief interludes of limited democracy and civilian rule. The case of Nigeria offers a cautionary tale of the excesses of military rule bolstered by oppression, force, prebendalism, and ethnic/regional favoritism. The case of Nigeria provides insights into the challenges faced by countries with well-entrenched military power to successfully transition to participatory, democratic rule. It also sheds light on the challenges that civil/military relations pose to democratically elected civilian leaders attempting to consolidate democracy while addressing the concerns of military leaders with a history of extraconstitutional (and nondemocratic) approaches to political rule. Managing Ethnic/Religious Diversity Nigeria’s ethnic and religious communities have challenged the legitimacy of national authority since the early days of colonialism. The British solution to this challenge was to establish federal arrangements that coincided with ethnic/regional groupings, thus undermining the fragile process of nation building. This approach to diversity has continued throughout the independence period, with regional constituencies continually contesting national authority and demanding autonomy in political decision making and access to natural resources. Long-simmering ethnic tensions culminated in the 1967-70 Biafran civil war, which threatened national authority in the Igbo-dominated eastern region of the country. While the east was unsuccessful in its efforts to secede, the wounds of this civil war remain as the integrity and legitimacy of the Nigerian “nation” continues to be tested. Nigeria has attempted to address the fragmentation of national authority by developing a federal system of government that divides power between national, state, and local levels. The goal has been to develop a political system that accommodates diversity Nigeria Briefing Paper Copyright © 2005 by College Board. All rights reserved. Available at apcentral.collegeboard.com. 2 while successfully performing the tasks of national governance. Other countries faced with this type of challenge have responded in a myriad of ways. Russia’s multiethnic state exhibits some similarities with Nigeria, as both have had to contend with identity-based civil wars (the Biafran civil war in Nigeria and the Chechneyan civil war in Russia). Even though Russia is an advanced industrialized country with a well-developed communications and technology infrastructure, similar to Nigeria, it has to contend with subnational ethnic cleavages that have escalated into violent conflict. This elucidates a key leadership challenge regarding the relationship bet...
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