POWER AND AUTHORITY IN NIGERIAN POLITICAL SYSTEM: A PHILOSOPHICAL APPRAISAL
The concepts of power and authority are central in political systems and to
governments. In Nigeria, these concepts are frequently used by politicians in their
political discourses without an adequate understanding of their proper meaning
and application. Many scholars and philosophers often use power and authority
interchangeably as though they are synonymous. In fact, in Nigeria, power seems
to be confused with authority. The inability to clearly and adequately understand
the meaning, theoretical and practical demands of the concepts as well as their
underlying differences, seems to be responsible for their improper exercise and
abuses in our clime. This paper, therefore, examines the concepts of power and
authority in order to establish their differences as well as their demands on those
that seek to wield and exercise them. The research exposes the acquisition of
power and authority, their usage in Nigeria as well as their influences on the
development of the country. It highlights certain practices in the Nigerian polity
that fosters the abuse of power and authority and insists that political power must
be exercised within the bounds of morality otherwise it will be a deadly weapon in
the hands of rulers against the ruled. In conclusion, the paper proposes that
anyone in authority must show tremendous responsibility and be aware of the
boundaries of their authority in order not to exceed such limits.
Achebe, Chinua. There was a Country. Penguin Books Ltd., London, 2012.
Acton, Lord. Essays on Freedom and Power. Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises
Aribisala, Femi. “Nigeria: Is Britain Nigeria's Evil Stepmother?” Allafrica.com, 2018,
https://allafrica.com/stories/201806260224.html. Accessed June 14, 2020
Bok, Hilary. "Baron de Montesquieu, Charles-Louis de Secondat", The Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edward N. Zalta (ed.),
https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2018/entries /montesquieu/> 2018.
Catherwood, H.F.R. The Christian Citizen. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1970.
Maraizu, Elechi. “A Politico-Philosophical Survey of Politics in Nigeria and Its
Implication to National Security.” Icheke: Journal of the Faculty of
Humanities, no. 2, (2016): 671-696.
Erlenbusch, Verena. “From Sovereignty to War: Foucault’s Analytic of Power.” EInternational
Relations, 2015, https://www.e-ir.info/2015/12/12/fromsovereignty-
Esikot, Idorenyin Francis and Emmanuel Iniobong Archibong. “The Exercise of
Power in Nigeria’s Democracy: A Moral Examination.” Public Policy and
Administration Research, vol.3, no.9, (2013).
BrainyMedia Inc. "Francis, Parker Yockey, Quotes." BrainyMedia Inc,
Accessed 28 May 2020.
Kattakayam, Jacob John, “Power and Knowledge: Some Reflections on
Contemporary Practices.” Sociological Bulletin, vol. 55, no. 3, (2006): 449–
Mohita, N. Power: “Meaning, Exertion and Elite Theory of Power.”
of-power/24319. Accessed June 14, 2020
Nanaghan, Ben, “Northern Leaders: Face Education, Not Presidency.”
not-presidency/ Accessed June 14, 2020
Nederman, Cary. "Niccolò Machiavelli", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,
Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
Accessed June 14, 2020
Ogbujah, Columbus. “Power and Good Governance: Observations from Nigeria.”
Researchgate.net, 2015. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/27522666
_Power_ and_Good_Governance_Observations_from_Nigeria, Accessed
June 2, 2020.
Olaniyan, Kolawole. “Buhari is ignoring Nigerian Judges- we must not let him get
away with it.” Vanguard Newspaper.
must-not-let-him-get-away-with-it/ 2019. Accessed June 2, 2020
OlaniyiQuadri, Tomiloba. “The Concept of Political Gladiator within the Nigerian
Political System”, Afribary.com, 2018, https://afribary.com/works/theconcept-
June 14, 2020
Onyeocha, Izu Marcel, Power and Authority in Our Culture. Owerri: Chimavin
Production Nigeria, 2005.
Plato. The Republic. Harmondsworth: Penguins Press, 1955.
Reus-Smith, Christian. The Politics of International Law. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2004.
Seldes, George. Life and Letters of Mandell Creighton, The Great Thoughts. New
York: Ballantine Books, 1985.
The Economist. ‘Nigeria’s President sacks the chief justice weeks before an election.’
sacks-the-chief-justice-weeks-before-an-election. Accessed 28 May
The Cable. “Trending Video: ‘Pain of rigging’ — Oshiomhole’s gaffe on Osun rerun.”
gaffe-osun-rerun. Accessed 2 June 2020
The BBC. ‘Nigerian chief justice's suspension raises international concerns.’ BBC
News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-47015698 Accessed 29 May
Uphoff, Norman. “Distinguishing Power, Authority & Legitimacy: Taking Max
Weber at His Word by Using Resources-Exchange Analysis”.
Researchgate.net, (1989). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/2717
His_Word_by_Using_Resources Exchange_Analysis, Accessed June 2, 2020.
Weber, Marx, Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology ed. G. Roth
and C. Wittich. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.