Journal Article: the Successes and Failures of Economic Reform in Nigeria’s Post-Military Political Settlement


My paper has just been published by the journal, African Affairs. Drawing on my doctoral research, the article has been four years (!) in the making, and I’m so excited and relieved that it is finally out. I had initially published it as a working paper in 2016, and its gone through a lot of revisions and changes, for the better.

The article entitled “The Successes and Failures of Economic Reform in Nigeria’s Post-Military Political Settlement”, is available (for free) on the African Affairs website, here.

I argue for a new theoretical lens to conceptualise the episodic bursts of economic reforms in Nigeria that have enabled GDP diversification, but not exports or revenue diversification. In making this case, I point to the severe limitations of dominant theories on African political economy. Beyond describing African countries as “resource cursed” or “neopatrimonial” or “tribal”, we need to understand how the underlying distribution of power shapes policy choices and economic outcomes.

Using a political settlements lens, I analyze the distribution of power and identify constraints on ruling coalitions in Nigeria. Then I argue that growth-orientated reform episodes result from external constraints (collapse of oil prices and fiscal pressures) on ruling elites. I find that Nigeria’s reform episodes are short-lived, because the distribution of power doesn’t allow for sustained reforms and the resulting econ transformation characteristic of a developmental state. However, Nigeria is NOT a hopeless “neopatrimonial” basket case either. It’s midway, what Peter Evans refers to as an “intermediate state”, capable of selective but not sustained reforms. Thus, the diversification of Nigeria’s GDP and yet concurrent continued dependence on oil for exports and fiscal revenue are outcomes of economic policy reforms by an intermediate state capable of episodic reform but incapable of driving industrial transformation.


6 thoughts on “Journal Article: the Successes and Failures of Economic Reform in Nigeria’s Post-Military Political Settlement

  1. A very good piece. Our reforms aren’t sustainable enough. We need strong ones that will have long impacts on the socio economic condition of the country.

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