Nigerian Political Culture

The Nigerian government is a federal government that was modeled after the United States government system as well as being greatly influenced by its former colonial leader, Great Britain, as simultaneously contains a Westminster System model with a composition of upper and lower houses in a bicameral legislature. However, the president is the head of state, the head of government, and the head of a multi-party system. With regards to Nigerian politics, these take place with the framework of a federal, presidential, representative democratic republic, in which the government exercises executive power over the people of Nigeria. With such executive power, this has lead to great amounts of corruption within Nigerian society.

The political culture in Nigeria is a direct reflection of the socio-economic and religious fragmentation and polarization that exists within the most populous and one of the most diverse nations in Africa. With serious religious divisions between Muslims and Christians, as well as social divisions between the country’s most prominent ethnic groups (Hausa-Fulani, Igbo, and Yoruba), there is a large amount of political conflict that exists within the Nigerian government because these groups tend to coincide with the major lines of socio-economic and political inequalities and voting behavior within Nigerian society.

In Nigeria, politicians have tried to decrease the amount of ethnic and religious tension and hatred that exist within the regions but in the meantime have failed to address the country’s real social and economic deficiencies. Currently, most Nigerians live in poverty, as there are only a handful of wealthy people that exist within Nigeria. Additionally, the gap between the rich and the poor is growing dramatically as a number elite Nigerian citizens have been able to use their political leverage to corrupt the Nigerian political system by steal from public funding and extracting enormous amounts of wealth from siphoning off public resources such as oil. The Nigerian Observer accurately describes the political culture of Nigeria when it says:

“The post colonial Nigeria is built around law and order, which was the hallmark of colonial legacy and the colonial government was itself an authoritarian authority, which relied on law and order as an instrument of coercion to sustain state power, both of which are conducive to military governance that characterized Nigeria for most of her existence as an independent entity. To facilitate its regulatory role and extractive roles, the post-colonial state centralizes the ‘production’ and distribution of national resources and in the context of state capitalism, this encourages the perception of the state as an instrument of accumulation and the patron-client ties as the dominant of political relations.”

This affirms that Nigeria contains neo-patrimonialist system within its society.

On a social scale, religion has become a major force in shaping the political behavior of policymakers in Nigeria. This is especially true among Muslims citizens that believe the state is conterminous to their belief, which has lead to the creation of the Boko Haram. The Boko Haram is a dangerous religious group that aim to Islamize Nigeria and go against the more Christianized, Western culture by declaring war in the form of terrorism on anyone that does not conform to their beliefs, which has lead to them successfully influencing the minds of many Nigerian citizens and powerful government leaders. As a result of such violent outbreaks by the Muslim Nigerians in the Boko Haram, the divide between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria as a whole has become even greater.

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