Governance in deeply divided societies: isolated integrity, social cleavages and president Buhari’s burden of electoral promises in Nigeria / Governança em sociedades profundamente divididas: integridade isolada, clivagens sociais e o fardo do presidente Buhari de promessas eleitorais na Nigéria

Mike Omilusi


Nigeria returned to democratic governance in 1999 and has had four cycles of national and state elections thereafter. Nigeria’s 2015 general elections marked a historic triumph for democracy in the Africa’s most populous country despite concerns over violence and the credibility of the polls leading up to the vote. The election, no doubt, ranked among the most issue-determined contests in the history of elections in Nigeria and the result challenged traditional notions suggesting that Nigeria’s problems are based primarily on divisions between north and south, or Christian and Muslim populations as entrenched in deeply divided societies. Muhammadu Buhari, often called Mai Gaskiya (“The Honest One”) by many Nigerians in the north, now not only leads the government but also carries with him an aura of “incorruptibility”. Thus, with the inauguration of the Buhari administration, the euphoria leads to a series of questions, including the following:  how realistic are these high expectations for a president facing Boko Haram, rampant corruption, shrinking government revenues, and widespread poverty? Will Nigeria’s leaders uncover a path to democratic stability and economic progress? Will the Nigerian 2015 elections, despite the initial positive outcomes, devolve into another prologue to the past? Or is the country on the verge of a significantly new political era?  Considering the fact that the core problem of Nigeria has always been the chronic deficit of honest and effective governance, how has the President’s touted integrity factored into governance in the last three years? This essay seeks to answer these questions within the personality identity/framework of President Buhari and the overall governance architecture now that it is three years into his four-year term.



Integrity, Governance, Democracy, Divided Societies, Election

Full Text:



Abdulmalik, Abdulrahman (2015) Outrage grows across Nigeria as Buhari’s lopsided appointments continue, Premium Times, August 28

Abugu, Chukwunonso (2015) As body language fails, Buhari should change approach to Governance, Post Nigeria, December 25

Adamu, Mohammed (2016) Still On Buhari’s Appointments, Vanguard, July 14

Adegbe, Sam (2016) Forces That Control Buhari, National Trail, July 4

Adekoya, Remi (2016) Muhammadu Buhari talked tough on Nigeria’s problems. Now he must deliver, The Guardian, March 28

Adesina, Debo (2016) Of change, focus and distractions, The Guardian, July 4

Adetola-Kazeem, Ahmed (2016) The Campaign Against Corruption in Nigeria: A war or Drama? This is the text of a lecture delivered by Ahmed Adetola-Kazeem, MCIArb (UK) at the 2nd edition of Chief Abd. Fatai Idowu Sofola(SAN) Annual Lecture organized by the Nigerian Association of Muslim Law Students (NAMLAS), OOU Chapter on 1st June

Agbese, Phillip (2016) Buhari and the burden of true leadership, The Authority, September 8

Agekameh, Dele (2017) The Magu ambush, The Nation, March 22

Akinyoade, Akinyinka (2015) Nigeria: Presidential Election 28 March 2015, Available at:

Amadou Sy (2015) Analysts and policymakers discuss challenges confronting Nigeria’s new government, Africa in focus, June 19

Anele, Douglas (2015) President Buhari and his enemies, Available at:

Barclay, Roddy (2016)Nigeria: The long road ahead, Available at:

Bazley, Joanna (2015) Buhari’s challenge: translating popular rhetoric to actual policy, Available at:

Bunce, Valerie (2010) “Ingredients of a Resilient Democracy” in More Than Elections: How Democracies Transfer Power, eJournal USA, Volume 15 / Number 1, U.S. Department of State

Campbell, John (2016) The Buhari Administration One Year Later, Available at:

Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD-West Africa) (2016) The Buharimeter Report, Abuja, CDD

Chia, Anne (2015) Buhari’s “Surgical” Treatment of Nigeria, Available at:

Chukwuma, Innocent (2015) From Nigeria's election, lessons for strengthening democracy, Available at:

Dahiru, Majeed (2016) President Buhari and the ‘Hailing Hailers’, Premium Times, July 7

Daniel, Folusho (2016) The Buhari that Nigerians don’t know, Nigerian Tribune, August 21

Democratic Socialist Movement (2015) 2015 Elections: Ruling Party Crumbles In Historic Election, Socialist Democracy: May-June Edition

Diamond, Larry (2014) Nigeria: Anatomy of a Feckless State, Premium Times, June 3o

Dixon, Robyn (2015) Nigeria president-elect's stern side now an asset, not a liability, Log Angeles Times, April 1

Ekwo, Uchenna (2015) Will Buhari's presidency offer change or a charade? Available at:

Eme, Okechukwu Innocent and Onuigbo, Richard A (2016) Buhari Presidency and Ethnic Balancing in Nigeria, Available at:

Emelifeonwu David C. (1999) Anatomy of a failed democratic transition: The case of Nigeria, 1985- 1993, A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies in partial fulfilment of the requirement of the degree of Ph.D in Political Science, McGill University

Enwegbara, Odilim (2016) Nigeria’s Economy So Far under Buhari, ThisDay, July 27

Ezeanyika, S.E (2011) Can Western Democracy Models be institutionalized in Africa? Reviewing Contemporary Problems and Prospects, Ufahamu: A Journal of African Studies, 36(2)

Fornof, Emily and Ruder, Steven (2015) Democratic Vote Offers Nigeria a Chance to Rebuild, and to Lead Africa, U.S. Institute of Peace, April 10

FreedomHouse (2016) FREEDOM IN THE WORLD 2016, Available at:

Garba, Sheu (2016) In Defense Of President Buhari: Is This The Change We Voted For? Yes, It Is! TG News, August 14

Hassan, Abdullahi and Abubakar, Ahmed (2016) Buhari govt hijacked by cabal –First Lady, The Sun, October 15

Hoffmann, Leena Koni (2014) Who Speaks for the North? Politics and Influence in Northern Nigeria, Available at:

Idaewor, Philip (2016) Journey so far: Buhari’s successes, failures, challenges, projections, Keynote address at the First Year Branch Anniversary – Commemoration with Symposium of APC UK BEDFORDSHIRE BRANCH, Luton

IFES (2015) Nigerian President Buhari Reaffirms Commitment to Democratic Governance, Available at:

Ishiekwene, Tony (2016) Worst Economic Crisis In 25 Years: What Nigeria Can Do To Get Out Of Recession Sahara Reporters, October 5

Joseph, Richard (2016a) Dilemmas of Democracy and State Power in Africa, Africaplus, January 7

Joseph, Richard (2016b) The Nigerian Prospect: Democratic Resilience amid Global Turmoil, AfricaPlus, March 31

Kayode, Oluwa (2015) Buhari: Leadership challenge and burden of change, Available at:

Kendhammer, Brandon (2014) “Nigeria’s Moral Economy of Powersharing” in Nigeria: What is to be Done? Available at:

Kolawole, Simon (2016) Left with a Broken Heart, This Day, October 2

Larr, Frisky (2015) Obstacles in Buhari’s path: Can Nigeria still be salvaged? Available at:

Lewis, Peter and Michael Bratton (2000) Attitudes towards democracy and markets in Nigeria: Report of a national opinion survey, January-February 2000. Washington, D.C., International Foundation for Election Systems, and Management Systems International

Lijphart, Arend (1977) Democracy in plural societies, New Haven, Yale University Press.

Madeleine Albright and Johnnie Carson (2015) Why Change in Nigeria Matters to the World, TIME, May 28

Momodu, Dele (2016) Before They Mislead President Buhari, ThisDay, June 11

Momodu, Dele (2016) The Season for True Change, skytrendnews, December 31

Ndahi, Philips Mbursa (2017) The many flaws of President Buhari, Daily Trust, March 24

New Telegraph (2016) The gains and pains of Buhari’s change, May 29

Nsongola-Ntalaja, G. (2004) Citizenship, political violence, and democratisation in Africa, Global governance, 10 (2004), pp. 403–409

Nwabughiogu, Levinus (2015) “My tortuous election journeys — Buhari”, Vanguard, May 10

Obadare, Ebenezer (2014) “Introduction” in Nigeria: What is to be Done? Available at:

Obi, Lewis (2016) Wanted: Referendum on NASS (3) The Sun, July 21

Obi, Paul (2016) Job Creation: Fulfilling an Overdue Obligation, This Day, March 3

Ochonu, Moses (2016) Nigeria: The shattering of the Buhari mythology, African Arguments, August 4

Ochonu, Moses E. (2014) “Opposition Politics” in Nigeria: What is to be Done? Available at:

Ochonu, Moses E. (2016) Bring back corruption: A critique of neoliberal anti-corruption rhetoric, The News, September 8

Ogunmade, Omololu (2016) The Deepening Senate-Executive Face-off, ThisDay, July 3

Ojonugwa, Ugboja Felix (2015) Political Appointments in Nigeria: Between Zoning and Competence, Leadership, may 24

Okuofu, Osilama (2015) President Buhari And The Burden Of Integrity! Available at:

Olayode, Kehinde Olusola (2015) Ethno-Regional Cleavages and Voting Behaviour in the 2015 General Elections: Issues and Challenges for Democratisation and Nation Building, Organised by The Electoral Institute (TEI), Abuja, Nigeria

Olorunmola, Adebowale (2016) Cost of Politics in Nigeria, Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Background Paper, Available at:

Omodia, S.M. and Aliu, M. (2013) Governance and Threats to National Security in Emerging Democracies: A Focus on the Nigerian Fourth Republic, Research on Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(4): 36 – 42

Omorogbe, S.K. and M.E. Omohan (2005) Causes and management of ethno-religious conflicts: The Nigeria experience. In: Yakubu, Alhaji M., R.T. Adegboye, C.N. Ubah and B. Dogo eds. Crisis and conflict management in Nigeria since 1980. Vol. II. Kaduna, Nigerian Defense Academy. pp. 557–558

Onigbinde, Oluseun (2015) Nigeria's staunch belief in new president Muhammadu Buhari being sorely tested, The Guardian, September 7

Onuoha, Freedom et al (2015) Political, Economic and Security Challenges Facing President Buhari, Al Jazeera Centre for Studies, September 21

Onwuasoanya, Jones (2016) Aisha, Buhari, The Cabal and The Other Room, Available at:

Onyibe, Madnus (2016) The Buhari Appeal, ThisDay, May 11

Orija, Bankole (2015) 10 Challenges Facing Buhari, Available at:

Osaghae, Eghosa E. and Rotimi T. Suberu (2005) A history of identities, violence, and stability in Nigeria, CRISE working paper No. 6. Oxford, Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity. Available from:

Pilling, David (2016) Nigeria’s battle against graft has a long way to go, Financial Times, March 30

Premium Times (2015) Job creation remains my priority – Buhari, December 13

Premium Times (2016) Nigeria’s economic recession deepens as GDP contracts 2.24 per cent in third quarter, November 21

Siegle, Joseph (2007) ‘Overcoming Autocratic Legacies’, 9:3 Development Outreach, pp. 6–8.

Siegle, Joseph (2012) Overcoming Dilemmas of Democratisation: Protecting Civil Liberties and the Right to Democracy, Nordic Journal of International Law 81, 471–506

Smith, Jeffrey (2016) Buhari is Treading a Perilous Path in Nigeria, Vanguard Africa Movement, June 20

Stein, Chris (2016) Domestic battles expose Nigerian army’s vulnerabilities, Financial Times, November 27

Suberu, Rotimi (2015) Challenges Confronting Buhari in Nigeria, AfricaPlus, July 18

Sweeney, William (2015) Nigeria’s 2015 Elections: A Critical Vote for Democracy in Africa, IFES, March 31

Tar, Usman and Shettima, Abba Gana (2010) Endangered Democracy? The Struggle over Secularism and its Implications for Politics and Democracy in Nigeria, Nordiska Afrikainstitutet Discussion paper 49

Teriba, Ayo (2015) Buhari’s economic management challenges (1), September 19

The Guardian (2016) Banning looters from public offices, October 6

The Guardian (2016) Hope and impediments: Buhari’s first year, May 29

The Guardian (2016) Nigeria: As Corruption Fights Back, December 5

The Nation (2016) Corruption fights back? December 29

The Punch (2016) Buhari’s parochial appointments, August 1

Tijani, Taju (2015) President Buhari and the Anxious Expectations of Nigerians, CounterPunch, January 13

Trevitt, Vittorio (2016) The Buhari administration: A New Beginning for Nigeria? Policy Network 13 January

USAID (2006) Democracy and Governance Assessment of Nigeria, United States Agency for International Development

Usman, Sidiq (2016) Reclaiming Nigeria: The Way Forward, Premium Times, October 26

Usman, Zainab (2015) Buhari's first 100 days: Does Nigerian president mean business? CNN, September 4

Vanguard (2016) Beyond Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption rhetoric: return of the fifth columnists?, October 12

World Population Prospects (2015) The 2015 revision key findings and advance tables. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Available from:



  • There are currently no refbacks.