African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 382

Full Length Research Paper

The Nigerian state, political assassination and democratic consolidation: A historical exploration

Olaopa Olawale Rafiu1* Akinola Owolabi2 and Salaam Najeem Folasayo3
1Department of Training and Research National Center for Technology Management, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile - Ife, Osun State, Nigeria. 2Osun State Broadcasting Corporation Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria. 3Department of Political Science Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria.    
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 12 March 2009
  •  Published: 30 April 2009


Given the current harvest of political assassinations that characterized the Nigerian political landscape and its worrisome nature, this paper, using a retrospective analysis of events, accepts the thesis that “the emergence of the Nigerian Colonial State is a by - product of a ‘fraudulent social contract’ and not of a ‘negotiated will’ of the wielded parts” (Ajetumobi,1991). As a result of this, the colonial state, in order to be able to protect the commercial interests of the colonialists, imposed a patrimonial system of administration by enlisting the dominant group in their services as co-conspirators.  Nigerian post colonial state inherited this mode of administration and its vices from their colonial master, Britain. Thus, the relationship between the political leaders and the led masses was that of domination and exploitation. Governance deviated from a call to service, but avenue for corruption and accumulation of wealth. A system of patronage in public offices and the practice of political intolerance became the order of the day. This actually led to political assassinations because professional, economic and political elites sought political power as a condition to fulfilling and furthering their economic interests. The control of instrument of the state gave them access to a share in the profitable opportunities offered by the Neo-colonial economy. It is against these matrices of historical deformities amidst the seeming privatization of political power by few in both the colonial and post colonial state that shape the nature and character of our Nigerian Political Elites, actors and office holders in the current democratic dispensation, their implications on democratic good governance as well as the way out, can be understood. The prevalent ‘loot and warfare’ approach to politics, the opposition phobia, the pre-occupation with interests of politics of survival and personal security (African leadership forum, 1990) and political killing/assassinations due to sit-tightism seek expression in this paradigm and our leaders keep drawing inspirations from Machiavelli political thought, with emphasis on his slogan, the end justifies the means.


Key words: Political assassinations, fraudulent social contract, colonial state, patrimonial system of administration, co-conspirator, democratic governance, system of patronage, neo-colonial economy, sit-tightism, Machiavelli Political Thought.