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Assignment: Incompetent Military Regimes

Assignment: Incompetent Military Regimes

Assignment: Incompetent Military Regimes

NOW FOR AN ORIGINAL PAPER ASSIGNMENT:Assignment: Incompetent Military Regimes

After 1967, corrupt and incompetent military regimes ruled Nigeria. Despite huge state-owned oil reserves that produced a steady flow of export revenues, the nation’s economy sank into a deepening morass with the vast majority of the population living in abject poverty.

In the 1990s, Nigeria’s economy stagnated, growing by less than a half percent per year while corruption reached new heights. A 1996 U.N. fact-finding mission did not mince words: Nigeria’s “problems of human rights are terrible, and the political problems are terrifying.” A succession of military dictators and ruling cliques enriched themselves shamelessly while neglecting the country’s economic and social needs. According to Transparency International, a research institute based in Berlin, Nigeria had the most corrupt government in the world in the mid-1990s.*

By this time, bribery and extortion had become a way of life in Nigeria, where the system of “patronage” (with the military rulers bestowing government jobs and other favors on supporters of the regime) produced a bloated, inefficient, irresponsible, and unresponsive bureaucracy that absorbed more than 80% of the annual budget. Even today, it is not unusual to find petty civil servants sleeping at their desks or asking visitors for cash. Higher-level officials routinely inflate the contracts for everything the state procures and embezzle untold sums of money.

The average per capita income in oil-rich Nigeria (about $2,700 at purchasing power parity in 2013) is only about half that of India, which has a population more than six times larger. High world oil prices have boosted Nigeria’s oil-dependent economy in recent years, but most Nigerians have experienced few benefits.

There is no good reason for Nigeria or Nigerians to be poor. In 2014, Nigeria’s GDP (estimated at $509 billion) overtook South Africa’s to become the largest national economy in sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria is a major oil producer, but its petrodollar bounty has not been invested in infrastructure, public works projects, or job-creating private business enterprise. In addition to suffering atrocious macroeconomic mismanagement, the country has been plagued by tribal and ethnic rivalries.

The complexity and diversity of Nigerian society partially explains the failure of two previous experiments with democracy and elected civilian government (in 1960–1966 and 1979–1983). Nigeria’s military rulers repeatedly promised free elections, but these promises were not kept. When elections were held in 1993, the results displeased the generals, who nullified the election, imprisoned the winner, and charged him with treason. Thereafter, many other critics of the military regime were also imprisoned and persecuted; some were even executed.