The author recently concluded writing his Ph.D. thesis, scheduled for defence in December 2011, at the International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University, The Hague, The Netherlands. His main research interests are political elite and governance.
Ethnic Politics, Political Elite, and Regime Change in Nigeria
Article first published online: 15 DEC 2011
Journal compilation © 2011 Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism
Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism
Volume 11, Issue 3, pages 427–450, December 2011
How to Cite
Kifordu, H. A. (2011), Ethnic Politics, Political Elite, and Regime Change in Nigeria. Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 11: 427–450. doi: 10.1111/j.1754-9469.2011.01147.x
- Issue published online: 15 DEC 2011
- Article first published online: 15 DEC 2011
Since the 1960s, intermittent social conflicts in Nigeria appear mostly linked to ethnic groups’ differences. Considering the importance of regime change in social and political stability, this article critically analyses the historic and dynamic role of the core political executive elite in the political system's stability. The article argues that ethnic politics persist in Nigeria based on the nature of interactions between political institutions, institution-builders, and society. It asserts a contradictory link between deep-rooted elite interests and popular preferences in ways that undermine orientations towards democracy. The empirical focus is on the composite nature of the core political executive elite analysed through their ethnic and educational backgrounds. It is observed that, although ethnic shocks are variously motivated, the atypical shape and inequity in power and role distribution at the highest levels of executive office-holding stand out as a salient source and target of antagonism by ethnic groups. This finding has a paradoxical implication: deep-seated economic and political interests of the elite play a diversionary role from the real causes of ethnic conflicts in Nigeria.