Patron-Client Politics, Democracy and Governance in Nigeria, 1999-2007

  • O Osumah


This paper examines patron-client politics in the context of democracy and governance in Nigeria with special focus on the first phase of the Fourth Republic, 1999-2007. The paper, which is essentially based on study of secondary source of data, revealed that the politics is neither historically new nor peculiar to Nigeria. Its evidence abounds in older democracies, emerging democracies and even authoritarian regimes. In Nigeria, its evidence abounds in the pre-colonial political system through the colonial era to the previous civil administrations in the country since independence. The paper revealed that pecuniary motivation and the deployment of primitive tactics to settle political scores make the patron-client politics a unique phenomenon in the recent political history of the country. The paper further reveals that the contemporary practices of patron-client politics negate the fundamental values and principle of democracy and governance. The plausible explanation adduced for the influx and changes in the patron-client politics include structural character of the Nigerian state which creates large stakes for the control of state power and other factors such as political decay, weak party structure and discipline, imperial presidency, political immaturity and lack of political charisma among office seekers.

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