Nigeria Briefing Paper

New constitutions also served to guide the content

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Unformatted text preview: ions. Constitution(s) During the post–World War II colonial period, a series of constitutions gradually proffered self-rule and regional autonomy for the Nigerian people. New constitutions also served to guide the content and form of independent Nigeria’s three republics, but they were eventually suspended and rendered obsolete during the subsequent periods of military rule. In tandem with promised transitions back to civilian rule, these military leaders often established the mechanisms for rewriting constitutions. The Bureaucracy As is the case for many “developing countries,” the bureaucracy in Nigeria has been the source of employment for large numbers of people not engaged in trade or agriculture. After independence, Nigerians replaced the British and Indians who dominated the bureaucracy. These Nigerians were mostly from the south, thus exacerbating north/south tensions. With the rapid influx of oil revenues into the state coffers and the proliferation of states, the size of the bureaucracy grew at a Nigeria Briefing Paper Copyright © 2005 by College Board. All rights reserved. Available at 23 rapid pace. Access to the economic largess of oil revenue, combined with political instability and the lack of accountability, created an opportunity for many to succumb to the temptation of corruption. This is a trend that has proven very difficult to reverse, despite a myriad of attempts by military and civilian governments. The Media Freedom of the press has improved substantially during the Fourth Republic, with a proliferation of newspapers, radio, and television stations. Radio continues to be the main source of information for most Nigerians, with newspapers and television most widely used in towns and cities across the country. All 36 states run their own radio stations, and there are over 100 private and state-owned local and national newspapers. Citizens and Society Cleavages The importance of ethnicity, religion, and region in the political life of Nigerians should not be underestimated. Most contentious political issues influence and/or are influenced by these three identities. Islam is most often associated with the Hausa-Fulani in the north, although there are sizable numbers of Muslims associated with other ethnic groups, including in Yoruba in the west. Most of the Christians in the country reside in the middle belt and southern regions. The Biafran civil war had explicit ethnic overtones, when the eastern Igbo attempted to secede from the country, and there has been a spate of violent outbreaks in the north of the country, where some Muslim states have attempted to impose Shari'ah despite opposition from segments of the population. Nigeria Briefing Paper Copyright © 2005 by College Board. All rights reserved. Available at 24 For the most part, the cleavages that have emerged are not cross-cutting. This has complicated the work of civilian and military leaders who have, with varying degrees of intention and success, attempted to nurture a national political culture that transcends divisive, sectarian politic...
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This document was uploaded on 04/02/2013.

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