Traditional Governance System in Nigeria: Lessons for Neoliberal Democracies

Adedeji Oluwaseun Adewusi


The pre-colonial Nigerian state had a well-organized system of administration where law and social order were provided and maintained respectively. Despite the country’s independence, Nigeria had been unable to install rights-based political and economic systems of governance that would encouragestate-building and development. The attendant societal woes paved way for neoliberalism; an economic ideology that licensed the Bretton Woods institutions to limit the political powers of the state and promote the ideas of the free market economic system.This paper examined neoliberal governance system with the aim of identifying the lessons for a “democratic”state like Nigeria. The theoretical assumptions of the World Systems theory were used to explain issues of interest. As a desk study, this paper found, amongst others, that “every foreign favour comes with a price tag.” This was because the aidprovided bythe Bretton Woods institutions such as the World Bank and IMF to the then government has subjected Nigeria to the dictates of the aforementioned donors, which the country is dearly paying for till date. Also, the adoption of neoliberal policies denied the indigenous people of Nigeria the right to freedom from discrimination and the right to dignity of human person. Therefore, it was recommended that the Nigerian government embraces an autarkic form of governance. This is highly possible by first de-westernizing the mind of Nigerians and her leaders to begin to see the need to stick to a self-sufficient and a truly democratic form of government.

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