Monday, April 15, 2024

Political Science in Nigeria: A Historical Overview

Last Updated on January 29, 2024


Let’s talk about political science in Nigeria.

  1. Political science is the study of government systems, political behavior, and the principles of politics.

  2. Studying political science in Nigeria is crucial for understanding and shaping the country’s political landscape.

  3. Political science in Nigeria has its historical roots in the colonial era and has evolved over time.

Political science explores the theory and practice of politics, governance, and policy-making. It analyzes government structures, political behavior, and ideologies.

Importance of Studying Political Science in Nigeria

  1. Informed Citizenship: It empowers citizens to understand their rights, duties, and responsibilities within the Nigerian political system.

  2. Effective Governance: Political science equips future leaders with the knowledge to create and implement effective policies.

  3. Conflict Resolution: Nigeria’s diverse society benefits from political science’s insights on conflict management and resolution.

  4. International Relations: Understanding global politics is crucial as Nigeria interacts with other nations on various issues.

Overview of the Historical Background of Political Science in Nigeria

  1. Pre-Colonial Era: Indigenous political systems, like the Igbo and Yoruba, had complex governance structures.

  2. Colonial Influence: British colonial rule introduced Western political ideas and institutions.

  3. Independence (1960): Nigeria’s emergence as a sovereign nation brought about the need for political science education.

  4. Post-Independence Challenges: Political instability, coups, and civil wars underscored the importance of political science.

  5. Academic Growth: Nigerian universities started offering political science programs to meet the growing demand.

  6. Democracy (1999): Nigeria’s return to democracy further emphasized the significance of political science.

In summary, political science in Nigeria has evolved over time, reflecting the country’s complex political history.

Its study is pivotal for informed citizenship, effective governance, and international engagement in today’s Nigeria.

Pre-Colonial Era

Indigenous political systems in Nigeria

Nigeria, prior to colonization, had a diverse range of indigenous political systems. These systems were based on cultural values, customs, and traditions.

Influence of indigenous political systems on the development of political science in Nigeria

The indigenous political systems played a significant role in shaping the development of political science in Nigeria.

They provided a foundation for understanding governance, leadership, and decision-making within different communities.

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Colonial Era

Arrival of the British and colonization of Nigeria

  1. The British arrived in Nigeria during the late 19th century.

  2. They initially established trade relationships, which eventually led to the colonization of Nigeria.

  3. British imperialism aimed to exploit Nigeria’s resources for economic gain.

  4. Colonial administration was established with the appointment of British officials.

Introduction of the British administrative and bureaucratic systems

  1. The British introduced their administrative and bureaucratic systems in Nigeria.

  2. This included the establishment of a centralized government structure.

  3. The system aimed to exert control over the Nigerian population and resources.

  4. British officials held key administrative positions and made decisions on behalf of Nigerians.

Impact of colonial rule on the development of political science in Nigeria

  1. Colonial rule had a significant impact on the development of political science in Nigeria.

  2. It led to the emergence of political consciousness among Nigerians.

  3. Nigerians began to question and challenge the legitimacy of colonial rule.

  4. Political debates and discussions started to take place, shaping the future of Nigerian politics.

  5. British education introduced Nigerian intellectuals to political theories and ideologies.

  6. These intellectuals played a crucial role in the formation of Nigerian political parties.

  7. They advocated for self-governance and political independence from British colonial rule.

  8. Political science as an academic discipline started to gain recognition in Nigerian universities.

  9. Nigerian scholars began to study political systems, ideologies, and comparative politics.

  10. The study of political science became a tool for understanding and challenging colonial rule.

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Post-Independence Era

The struggle for independence and emergence of Nigerian political parties

  1. Nigerian people fought for independence from British colonial rule.

  2. Political parties like the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) emerged.

  3. Other parties, such as the Action Group (AG) and the Northern People’s Congress (NPC), also gained prominence.

Adoption of the federal system of government in Nigeria

  1. Nigeria adopted a federal system of government after gaining independence.

  2. This system allowed power to be shared between the central government and the regional governments.

  3. The adoption of federalism aimed to accommodate Nigeria’s diverse ethnic and regional interests.

Challenges and achievements in the field of political science during Nigeria’s early years of independence

  1. Building political institutions and structures posed significant challenges.

  2. Ethnic and regional divisions often resulted in political instability.

  3. Despite these challenges, Nigeria made considerable progress in the field of political science:
  1. Constitution drafting: Nigeria successfully drafted and adopted its first constitution in 1960.

  2. Political participation: Nigerians actively engaged in political processes, such as elections and political party activities.

  3. Academia: Nigerian universities played a vital role in shaping political science through research and teaching.

  4. Policy making: Nigeria developed policies and implemented programs to address the nation’s economic and social issues.

  5. Independence movement: Nigeria’s political science field was enriched by the experiences and struggles of the independence movement.

Overall, Nigeria’s post-independence era was marked by the struggle for independence, the adoption of federalism, and both challenges and achievements in the field of political science.

The emergence of political parties, the federal system of government, and the progress in constitution drafting, political participation, academia, and policy-making contributed significantly to shaping Nigeria’s political landscape.

Despite the challenges faced, Nigeria’s early years of independence laid the foundation for further development in the field of political science.

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Military Regimes and Political Science

Period of military coups and political instability

  1. The rise of military regimes in Nigeria led to a period of political turmoil.

  2. Military coups became the norm, with frequent changes in leadership.

  3. Political scientists faced challenges in understanding and analyzing the military’s influence.

  4. The absence of civilian rule hindered the development of political science as a discipline.

  5. Research and academic institutions struggled under the oppressive military rule.

Repression and persecution of political scientists and academics

  1. The military regimes actively targeted political science scholars and academics.

  2. Many were forced into exile or faced imprisonment for their critical views.

  3. The military sought to silence dissent and control the narrative around politics.

  4. Academic freedom was severely compromised under the repressive military rule.

Role of political science in the struggle for democracy and human rights in Nigeria

  1. Political scientists played a crucial role in advocating for democratic values.

  2. They provided intellectual support for civil society movements fighting against military rule.

  3. Through research and analysis, political scientists highlighted the need for democratic reforms.

  4. Their work inspired a generation of activists to fight for democracy and human rights.

  5. Political science became a tool for understanding the intricacies of democratic transitions.

  6. Nigerian political scientists played important roles in drafting democratic constitutions.

Essentially, the period of military regimes in Nigeria brought about political instability and repression. Political science as a discipline faced significant challenges during this time, with scholars and academics being targeted and oppressed.

Basically, political scientists also played a vital role in the struggle for democracy and human rights. Their work provided intellectual support and inspired movements fighting against military rule.

Despite the difficulties faced, political science continued to evolve and contribute to Nigeria’s democratic transition.

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Contemporary Political Science in Nigeria

Current state of political science departments and institutions in the country

  1. Nigeria has several political science departments and institutions across universities and research centers.

  2. These departments play a crucial role in the study and advancement of political science in the country.

  3. They offer undergraduate and postgraduate programs, providing students with theoretical and practical knowledge.

  4. Many political science departments have highly qualified faculty members with expertise in various subfields.

  5. These institutions conduct research, publish scholarly articles, and contribute to policy-making processes in Nigeria.

Research trends and focus areas in Nigerian political science

  1. Nigerian political science has witnessed a shift towards more localized and context-specific research.

  2. There is a growing emphasis on studying Nigerian politics, institutions, and governance systems.

  3. Researchers explore topics such as federalism, ethnic politics, electoral processes, and social movements.

  4. Another research trend focuses on understanding the impact of globalization and democratization on Nigerian politics.

  5. Political scientists also analyze the influence of religion, gender, and socio-economic factors on political behavior.

Challenges and opportunities for the future of political science in Nigeria

  1. One of the main challenges is the inadequate funding and support for political science departments and research.

  2. Insufficient resources limit the potential for comprehensive studies and hinder the growth of the discipline.

  3. There is a need for collaboration between political science departments and policymakers to address national issues.

  4. Political scientists should actively engage in public discourse to disseminate research findings and influence policies.

  5. Opportunities lie in the increasing demand for political science graduates in various sectors, including government and NGOs.

  6. International collaborations and partnerships can enhance the quality of research and expand the scope of study.

  7. Efforts should be made to integrate technology and digital platforms into political science teaching and research.

  8. Promotion of interdisciplinary research can help address complex political challenges in Nigeria.

In review, political science in Nigeria has evolved significantly over the years.

The current state of political science departments and institutions in the country is promising, with numerous academic programs and influential research being conducted.

The research trends in Nigerian political science highlight the importance of studying specific local contexts while also considering global influences.

To summarize, challenges remain, including the need for more financial support and collaboration with policymakers.

Opportunities exist for political science graduates in various sectors, and fostering international collaborations can contribute to the discipline’s growth.

By addressing challenges, leveraging opportunities, and embracing new approaches, political science in Nigeria can continue to make valuable contributions to understanding and shaping the country’s political landscape.


  1. Uiltimately, this section provided a historical overview of political science in Nigeria.

  2. Understanding the historical context is important for studying political science in Nigeria.

  3. We encourage further exploration and research in the field of political science in Nigeria.
  1. Nigeria’s political science journey spans pre-colonial, colonial, and post-independence eras.

  2. Indigenous systems, colonial rule, and post-independence challenges shaped its development.

Importance of Understanding the Historical Context

  1. To grasp the roots of Nigeria’s political issues, historical knowledge is essential.

  2. It provides insights into the evolution of political ideologies and structures.

Encouragement for Further Exploration and Research

  1. Delve into the complexities of Nigerian politics through academic research.

  2. Discover innovative solutions to contemporary political challenges.

  3. Contribute to shaping a brighter political future for Nigeria through your studies and insights.

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