Nigeria became independent in 1960 after years of colonial rule under Great Britain. After a short experience with parliamentary democracy, the country came under military rule from 1966 until 1979, when it returned to democratic governance. Marked with gross inefficiency, sharp ethnic and religious divisions, and a high rate of corruption, in what writer Richard Joseph aptly describes as “prebendal politics,” the democratic experience was short-lived, as the military again took over from civilian leaders in December 1983. When Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999 after about 15 years of unbroken military rule, there was high hope that the country, the most populous black nation in the world, was set to achieve its manifest destiny in terms of development and global relevance.

Missed Opportunities

However, 15 years ...

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