© 2009

The Route to Power in Nigeria

A Dynamic Engagement Option for Current and Aspiring Leaders

  • Authors

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-XIV
  2. Conceptual Framework

  3. The Nigerian Environment

  4. Factors in the Rise and Fall of Leaders

  5. Lessons for Current and Aspiring Leaders

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 219-219
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 241-264

About this book


Proceeding from a longitudinal analysis of Nigeria s governorship history, The Route to Power in Nigeria shows how personalities have for the most part overwhelmed institutions, to the detriment of the country s democratic consolidation. While it is customary to hold leaders solely responsible for the predicament of Nigeria s governorship, M.J. Balogun argues they could not have accomplished the task entirely by themselves. Here we see how the "silent majority", individuals who exploit weaknesses in the system, and those who have lost hope of casting votes in free elections play important roles in subverting the democratic system in Nigeria.


Civil society development environment governance Institution management

About the authors

M.J. BALOGUN is a Senior Adviser in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs at the United Nations.

Bibliographic information


"This book by Dr. Balogun presents a new perspective on Nigerian politics and governance . . .I commend this book to the staff and students of the Departments of Political Science and Public Administration, political leaders, public servants and all those interested in understanding the nature of governance in the African countries."

- African Journal of Public Administration and Management

"The core strength of the book is an in-depth and insightful analysis of leadership in Nigeria since independence, showing how most leaders have abjectly failed to engage in successful governorship. Its arguments and ideas are extremely valid to current discussions of the Nigerian political scene. We should hope that aspiring political leaders would take on board many of Balogun s ideas for improving the prospects for democracy in the continent s largest country." - The International Journal of African Historical Studies

"It gives me great pleasure to associate myself with the upcoming book titled, The Route to Power in Nigeria: A Dynamic Engagement Option for Current and Aspiring Leaders (by Professor M J Balogun). When I was Prime Minister of Namibia, I once asked the author why, despite the abundant natural and human resources (and the pride of producing the first African Nobel laureate) Nigeria had failed to place its feet firmly on the ladder and climb with the rest of the late developers. I wanted to know how come his country had proved largely incapable of converting its abundant energy into good governance and improved standards of living. Balogun was clearly not ready for this direct question, and he made no attempt to answer it. We both let the matter rest there.

I did not realize that he took my question seriously enough to begin an independent search for clues - that is, clues to the Nigerian puzzle. The book that Palgrave-Macmillan is about to release is Balogun s response to the surprise sprung on him over a decade ago. Armed with sharp analytic tools, and drawing on an impressive body of empirical data, Balogun has finally, and in a convincing manner, answered the question why, as Chinua Achebe might have put it, things constantly fell apart in Nigeria and the center appeared unable to hold. The Route to Power in Nigeria is a remarkable attempt at distinguishing between the visionary leadership his country needs to forge ahead and the strong men actually calling the shots at critical times. Even more significant than any other contribution is the effort made to find explanations for the discrepancy between the ideal and the reality, and to identify quick-wins that current and aspiring leaders will find highly invaluable.

On the face of it, the new book is about Nigeria. Yet, its underlying message will resonate with leaders in other African countries. If the continent is to find lasting solutions to its problems, pre-empt civil conflict, be weaned off aid dependency, and above all, defeat poverty and open the door to affluence, those holding or seeking leadership positions in every sphere of life need to read this excellent book. Fortunately, Balogun s superb writing has made what is ordinarily a dull subject come alive. Written in a language that is equally accessible to policy makers and academics, the book will get the attention of the reader from the first page to the last."

- Honorable Dr. Hage G. Geingob, Vice-President of SWAPO, Minister of Trade and Industry, and the first Prime Minister of Independent Namibia

"This is a very well researched and tightly argued book, with penetrating analysis of the Nigerian state and its crises of leadership. This author argues very lucidly that the problem of development goes beyond leadership - it is, in Nigeria, a problem that cannot be resolved until failure at leadership and followership levels are resolved. The book also highlights the impact of values in determining the course of development. Unfortunately, the values have joined up with the hard environment to resist change and to pose serious challenges - but at the same time present opportunities - to visionary leadership. The book boldly confronts issues intertwined with the Nigerian question - issues of ethnicity, religion, state reform, economics management, the people s welfare.

Thought-provoking, didactic in impact, fascinating in empirical data and intriguing in analyses, this book challenges the current trend of thought on causes and consequences Nigeria s stunted development as a nation. Above all, it offers practical lessons on how the leaders and their followers might begin the process of changing things around for everyone s good. The analytic and empirical style might at first suggest this as a book written solely for the academic community and current affairs commentators. Its value-added is greater than that. It is a must read for every political leader-whether in executive or legislative branch-as well as for those aspiring to leadership position in government or in civil society."

- Professor J. Isawa Elaigwu, President of the Nigerian Institute of Governance and Social Research

"This book should be of major interest to both the student and observer of Nigerian politics and society and those that are in leadership positions presently or are aspiring to lead Nigeria. For the student intent in analyzing and understanding Nigerian politics, the book offers a wealth of materials for study and research. To the leaders and those aspiring to positions of governship, the study provides well tested and clearly demonstrated options leading to successful leadership careers in Nigeria and Africa generally.

The study opens, as most serious studies of society do, by providing a theoretical foundation against which to understand the core concept of leadership and its relationship to the key issues in Nigerian contemporary society, namely, governance and development. Here, different leadership types are identified and, having related each type to the leadership challenges characteristic of the first post-independence republic through the various military regimes to the present fourth republic, a conclusion is made that for effective governance of Nigeria today, a leader must be a team-player and not a strong-man lone-ranger.

The thrust of the book s brilliance, however, is to be found in Part II of the book that presents in-depth analyses of the Nigerian environment. In the six chapters that constitute the bulk of the book, the author undertakes a systematic sociological and political analysis and presentation of the various elements in the Nigerian internal and external environments that encourage or discourage the emergence and dominance of a particular leadership style. The classification he makes of the "soft" and "hard" environments and their overbearing impact on leadership is a noteworthy addition to the analytical kit of Nigerian politics and society. The complexity of the environment means that leaders and those aspiring to lead must strike a delicate balance between the various contending forces and interests which, in practical politics, means having to work with both friends and foes.

The assertions and statements made in the concluding chapter draw directly from the data and evidence presented in the various chapters in Part II in which the influence and constraints of various environmental factors over leadership success or failure are highlighted. The Nigerian environment, the study concludes, favours and promotes a consensus - building leader who champions the sanctity of the rule of law."

By and large, the book represents a breakthrough in understanding Nigerian politics. It is a primer for whoever aspires to hold a successful leadership position in Nigeria and Africa at large."

- Professor Yolamu R. Barongo, Sectretary General, African Association Public Administration and Management