Deconstructing Elite Fragmentation in Nigerian Politics

Isaac Olawale Albert



The lack of sustainability in Nigeria is often blamed on the elite in the society. The elite class renders the practice of democracy difficult by rigging elections, stealing state resources, and above all engaging in political brinksmanship. The most daunting of the problems is what this paper refers to as “elite fragmentation" by which is meant the act of the elite class engaging in such open conflicts that make them to divulge the secrets of one another. In the process, citizens get to know how the elite class manipulates the rest of the society to their own seU‘ish advantage. This paper examines the nature of this problem since the I999 political transition from military to civil rule. The paper focuses on two interesting cases: the conflict between President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar from 2005 to 2007 and the contrived “constitutional crisis” arising from President Umar Yar’Adua’s sickness and death. In both cases “dirty tricks" came into play and the ruling party, PDP, produced the opposition from within and by so doing brought the security of Nigeria to boiling points. In the process of contributing to the debate on the two cases, some Nigerians made statements that are cited in this paper to confirm our thesis on “elite fragmentation ”. The data provided in the paper provides a classroom example of how elite fragmentation can contribute towards political instability. The situation suggests readily that democracy is yet to take its firm root in Nigeria and this contributes to the international skepticism about the health of democracy in the country


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