Nigeria’s Elusive Quest for Democracy: Multinational Corporations and Sustenance of Authoritarianism*

In: African and Asian Studies
Author: Nitya Singh1
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  • 1 Department of Political Science Eastern Michigan University 914 Hoyt Tower, Ypsilanti, MI 48197 USA, Email:
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In 1999 Nigeria witnessed its second transition to democracy. However, not only have authoritarian regimes existed in Nigeria for a substantial part of its history but also the successive democratic governments since 1999 have continued to mirror the characteristics of these regimes. Thus, in the article I analyze this paradox by examining the role of multinational corporations in preventing the growth of democracy in Nigeria. I observe that the rentier incomes provided by the multinational oil corporations to the Nigerian state have enabled the authoritarian regimes to maintain themselves in power. Furthermore the multinational corporations have also played a very important role in ensuring the continuation of an “elite social class” supportive of these regimes, within the Nigerian society. These findings suggest that the important socio-economic position enjoyed by these multinational corporations within the Nigerian society, has resulted in the continuation of the authoritarian regimes and their policies within the Nigerian state.

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