n Journal of African Elections - Nigeria's Fourth Republic (1999-2015) and electoral outcomes : how long can patronage or 'politics of the belly' last?

Volume 14, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-4700



The relationship between elections and the vitality of a democratic society is clear. Elections have proven to be the best means of strengthening the mandate of a performing administration or removing a non-performing one. This paper argues, however, that the outcomes of several elections in Nigeria's Fourth Republic have proved contrary to the common trend in most advanced democratic systems, in which electoral outcomes are based on performance. While in some cases, especially in political party primaries, candidates with little or no democratic credentials have emerged during general elections, in other instances administrations with relatively high records of infrastructural development have been voted out. This study traces the most probable causes of this paradox to Nigeria's money politics and a possible misinterpretation of the concept of development. It is essentially a literature-based study, descriptive but also analytical. The paper concludes that the country will have to contend with the politics of underdevelopment for as long as immediate and pecuniary benefits constitute the expectation of the generality of followers.

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