Politics and Economic Development in Nigeria

By Tom Forrest | Go to book overview

11
The Failure of the Political Transition and the Demise of the Structural Adjustment Programme: Problems and Prospects

After a brief introduction, this concluding chapter addresses first the complete failure of the political transition and the persistence of military rule. It then turns to economic management and the demise of the Structural Adjustment Programme. A concluding section addresses problems underlying the intensification of the economic and political crises and examines the prospects for change.

In Chapter 6, I suggested that the Babangida regime would be judged by the outcome of the attempt to create a more democratic form of government and by the success of the economic programme. The regime failed badly on both counts. The transition to civil rule never took place: The regime ended with a brief period of dyarchy, followed by full military rule. The economy continued to decline under the regime's gross mismanagement, and living standards fell for the vast majority of people. By comparison, the earlier transition of 1977-1979, under the Obasanjo regime, appears purposeful and exemplary in the pursuit and attainment of its economic and political objectives.

The final years of the Babangida regime were marked by gross manipulation of the transition process. There was a series of unpredictable interventions, rule changes, and postponements, which stretched the life of the regime to eight years and tried the patience of Nigerians to the breaking point. Constant interference in the political process gave rise to acute political uncertainty and raised fears about the future of the country. Among the most spectacular interventions were the disqualification of many of the most capable political candidates; the rejection in October 1989 of all political parties that had been formed, including six shortlisted by the Nigerian Electoral Commission (NEC); and the lifting of the ban on former politicians in 1991. Nothing could prepare Nigerians,

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