News / Africa

Nigerian Scholar Blames Underdevelopment on Outdated Ideas of Governance

Political scientist says in many African countries, including Nigeria, resources used to enrich leaders, not population as whole

Nigerian Scholar Blames Underdevelopment on Outdated Ideas of Governance
Nigerian Scholar Blames Underdevelopment on Outdated Ideas of Governance

Multimedia

Audio

Nigeria’s reputation as one of the most corrupt countries in the world is widely regarded as one of the reasons why more than half its people live in poverty. Observers say its political leaders have made it impossible for Nigeria’s vast wealth in fossil fuels to benefit Nigerians as a whole. Instead, he said, they use it to enrich themselves or their friends and family.

Richard Joseph is the John Evans Professor at Northwestern University, in Chicago, Illinois. He said Nigeria suffers from “prebendalism,” a system of governance that he said exists in many other African countries as well.

He coined the term about 30 years ago from the word “prebende” – a term that describes some early European forms of governance, including religious ones. A prebend, he said, is an elected or appointed office in which the officeholder uses its resources for personal needs.

“I adapted it to Nigeria,” said Joseph, “because…[politicians] were looking at offices they had – elected or appointed – as a way of generating revenues for themselves that they could allocate and distribute as they chose, rather than looking at the office in terms of the services to be performed and how the funds for the office would be used (to accomplish that goal).”

He said the term is still relevant to Nigeria today. “Why are the roads in such bad shape, why electric power, water production. You name it, in any area of governmental activity there has been underperformance.”

He said that when people are elected to public office, they owe allegiance not to the electorate but those in their party, tribe or clan. Joseph warns that “Nigerians need to realize that the reason they don’t have any progress in all the critical areas is because we have been so locked into that system.”

Analysts say the abuse of office and corruption are endemic in Nigeria -- to levels that they are almost tolerated by a resigned public. Nigeria always ranks low in terms of political transparency and is often a target of criticism from major donor organizations like the World Bank.

Professor Joseph said the cycle can be broken if there is a willingness on the part of the electorate to demand that those they put in public office are held accountable. But he adds that each society has to find customized solutions to its problems.

“Every country has to find a path out of that system…its own approach.” He gives the example of Scandinavian countries, where officials “will be thrown out of office for what will be considered very minimal abuses. In Kenya or Nigeria, the opposite prevails.”


He advises governments to emulate the private sector and some state governments in Nigeria that have instituted major reforms in creating more transparent systems. Adding that there is a need to make a transition to a rules-based system, so the use of government is governed by laws and accountability.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid