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A Troubled Country

John Ayam

By Zimako O. Zimako
Modern Approach, 2009, pp. 295, $20.00


This book attempts an investigation into a major issue confronting contemporary Nigeria, namely, the question of managing its image at both domestic and international levels. In trying to unravel the underlying issue relating to the image of Nigeria the author has undertaken analysis of some of the most sensitive political events and issues that contemporary Nigeria has witnessed. The book is structured into three major parts which investigate democracy, foreign relations and the national image of Nigeria. Each of these parts is further broken down into chapters. Part one deals with democracy in Nigeria by highlighting the challenges the country has been confronting in its efforts at building viable institutions. One key problem has been that the elite has consistently been interfering with democratic processes to suit their craving for power. Ranging from annulment of the 1993 Presidential election to the 2007 do-or-die elections the elite has manipulated democracy to suit its dictatorial tendencies (pp. 19–28). Increasingly the Nigerian populace is disenfranchized to the extent that the dividends of democracy are lacking. Perhaps even more daunting is the prevalence of corruption which has significantly dented the image of Nigeria at local and international levels. Corruption has penetrated the polity and economy of Nigeria to the extent that it has virtually been institutionalized (pp. 45–74). Efforts at creating institutions that could control corruption have not been successful largely because of the extent to which corruption has deeply penetrated the country. Not only does corruption threaten democracy but even the costs of running the institutions of democracy are prohibitive and at the expense of the welfare of the generality of Nigerians. The electoral system is also weak judging from the ease with which politicians are able to manipulate it because of the inability of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to assert its independence (pp. 89–116). It is therefore no surprise that many elections have been reversed in courts. Part II looks at the foreign policy of Nigeria from 1960 to 2007. Appropriately identified are Nigeria’s basic foreign policy principles namely nonalignment, commitment to the concept of legal equality of African states, non-interference in the domestic affairs of other states and multilateral diplomacy as expressed in links to the United Nations, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Nigeria’s foreign policy has been committed to Africa; indeed Africa has been a cardinal area of concern of all Nigerian governments since ...

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