n Journal of African Elections - The legal and constitutional framework of the 2011 elections in Nigeria

Volume 11, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1609-4700



The electoral topography of the Nigerian postcolonial state reveals that contests for the control of power degenerate more often than not into elite-driven violence that undermines the nation-building and democratic projects. In interrogating the legal and constitutional context and the outcome of the 2011 election in Nigeria this paper draws on Foucault's notion of governmentality, along with the concept of garrison politics, to unpack the central role that techniques, practices and strategies of governmental power play in the domination of the social, economic and political space, to the detriment of the citizenry. I argue that although the 2011 election was regarded as relatively 'free and fair' its aftermath, nevertheless, reveals the way centralisation of power is recurrently deployed through neopatrimonial networks to entrench elite pillage, which undermines the ethos of participatory democracy and constitutionalism. I contend that in order to avert corrosive decline and civic disengagement it is imperative to rethink and urgently reconstitute the institutional logic of the Nigerian state in such a manner that it will enhance the empowerment of the citizenry and the enthronement of a transparent, inclusive, developmentalist and responsive system of governance.

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