Towards A Proverbial Explanation of Political Instability in Independent Nigeria
This paper offers a possible explanation for the seeming failure of all efforts to combat the
monster of political instability in Nigeria since independence. Given the fact that most Nigerian
leaders and commoners alike are always quick in reverting to some proverbs either to rationalize
their actions or inactions; five of the most widely acclaimed causes of political instability in
Nigeria were examined vis-à-vis some selected Yoruba proverbs. This was done against the
backdrop of a Yoruba proverb: Owe lesin oro, oro lesin owe; b’oro ba sonu, owe la fi n waa.
(“A proverb is like a horse: when the truth is missing, we use a proverb to find it”). A thorough
analysis reveals that political instability in Nigeria has its philosophical foundations well
entrenched in the spirit of selected Nigerian proverbs and concludes that political stability may
continue to elude the country as long as citizens indulge in hiding under the cover of the letters
and spirit of selected Nigerian proverbs to perpetrate evil in governance.
CENCOD, Constitutionalism and National Question. Lagos. pp. 119 – 140.
Adeyemi, B.A. and Salawudeen, M.O. 2014. “The Place of Indigenous Proverbs in Peace
Education in Nigeria: Implications for Social Studies Curriculum”. International
Journal of Humanities and Social Science, Vol. 4 No. 2 [Special Issue – January.
Adeyeri, O. 2010. “Federalism and The Challenges Of Nation-Building In Nigeria”.
International Journal of Research in Arts and Social Sciences.
Akinola, A. A. 1996. Rotational Presidency, Ibadan: Spectrum Books Ltd.
Akpan, F. and Ering, S. O. 2010. “The Politics of Amnesty and Oil-Related Conflict in the
Niger Delta Region of Nigeria”. European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 17,
Aluko, S.A. 1975. “Poverty: Its Remedies”, in Poverty in Nigeria, Proceedings of the
1975. Annual Conference of the Nigerian Economic Society, Ibadan.
Aluko, T. (2014). Welcome Address by the Dean, Faculty of Environmental Design and
Management, at the 4th Distinguished Guest Lecture, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-
Ife, Nigeria, May.
Amnesty International Report. 1987. Amnesty International Publications. London.
Awofeso, O. & Odeyemi, T.I. (2014). “The Impact of Political Leadership and Corruption
Nigeria’s Development since Independence”. Journal of Sustainable Development; Vol. 7,
Babarinsa, D. 1999. “The Drinking Party”. Tell. Lagos. January 18.
Babarinsa, D. 2002. “Editorial Comment”. Tell. Lagos. December 2.
Bayart, J. F. 1993. The State in Africa: The Politics of the Belly. New York. Longman.
Bello-Imam, I.B.1987. “Problems of National Integration in Nigeria”. The Indian Journal
of Political Science, Vol. 48, No. 2 (April - June 1987), Bluwey, G. K. 1992. “Democracy
at Bay: The Frustrations of African Liberals” in Canon B. et al (Eds.), Proceedings of the
Symposium on Democratic Transition in Africa. Ibadan. June 16 – 19.
Chalker, L. 1991. Sunday Times (London). September 18.
Conteh, J. S. 1998. “Colonial Roots of Conflicts in Africa: A Historical Perspect ive,
Prevention and Resolution”. African Journal of Conflict, Prevention, Management and
Resolution. 2 (1), January – April.
Cook, C and Killingray, D. 1983. African Political Facts Since 1945. London, Basingstoke:
The Macmillan Press Ltd.
Dahida, D. P. & Akangbe, O. M. (2013). Corruption as a Bane for Under-Development in
Nigeria: Issues and Challenges. International Affairs and Global Strategy, 15.
Delano, I. O. 1973. “Proverbs, Songs and Poems” in Biobaku, S. O. (Ed.), Sources of
Yoruba History. Ibadan: University Press.
Eckstein, Harry.1965. "On the Etiology of Internal War". History and Theory, 4:133-63.
Egunjobi, T. A. 2007. “Crime and Unemployment: An Empirical Analysis”. Conference
a. Proceedings of the Nigerian Economic Society held in Calabar, 22nd – 24th
b. August, 2006.
Ejionye, U. A. and Emereuwaonu, E. U. 1986. “Corruption as Culture in Nigerian
Development” in Odekunle, F. (Ed.), Nigeria: Corruption in Development. Ibadan: Ibadan
Fadahunsi, O. 1970. Nigeria: The Last Days of the First Republic. Ibadan: A. O F. Press.
Fairbanks, Michael 2000. "Changing the Mind of a Nation: Elements in a Process for
a. Creating Prosperity," in Harrison, L.E and Huntington, S.P. (eds.). Culture
b. Matters, (eds.), New York: Basic Books.
Falegan, S. B. 2001. “The Scourge of Poverty Around Us” 11th Convocation Lecture,
University of Ado – Ekiti, Nigeria.
Gandara, L.(2004). Discourse & Society. Vol. 15, No. 2/3, Special Issue: Interpreting
tragedy: the language of 11 September 2001 (March/May).
Iguisi, O. 2002. “Cultures, Poverty Alleviation and Small Business Development in Suba.
Saharan Africa”, Management in Nigeria, Journal of Nigerian Institute of
b. Management, Vol.38,no.1, Lagos.
Inglehart, Ronald. 1997. Modernization and Post modernization: Cultural, Economic, and
a. Political Change in forty-three Societies. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press.
Inyang, B. 2009. “Tackling unemployment hurdles in the fragile economies of the Niger
a. Delta region of Nigeria”. International Observer, Vol. 1, No. 2.
Jinadu, L. Adele. 1985. “Federalism, the Consociational State, and Ethnic Conflict in
Nigeria”. Publius, Vol. 15, No. 2.
Journal of Poverty. 2002. "Statement of Purpose"
Lawrence, B. 2000. “Money Talks Now, Not Ideas”, Africa Today. 6 (10), October.
Liolio, S.O. 2013. “Rethinking Counterinsurgency: A Case Study of Boko Haram in
Nigeria”. M.A Dissertation submitted to the European Peace University , Stadtschlaining,
Mbiti, J. S. 1991. Introduction to African Religion (2nd Edition). Ibadan: Heinemann
Educational Books (Nig.) Ltd.
Mbiti, J.S. 1995. Children Confer Glory at Hone: Introduction to the African Proverbs
In M.I. Mokitimi,(ed.) Proverbs of the Basotho. Ibadan: Daystar.
Mbiyu, C.W. 2011. “Social Control and Gender Relations in Kikuyu Proverbs. Journal of
Education and Social Sciences”. Volume 1. Number 2. May.
Morrison, D. G. and Stevenson, H. M. 1971. “Political Instability in Independent Black
Africa: More Dimensions of Conflict Behaviour within Nations”. Journal of Conflict
Resolution, XV (3).
Nwankwo, A. A. 1999. Nigeria: The Stolen Billions. Vol. I, Enugu: Fourth Dimension
Publishing Co. Ltd.
Nnoli, O. 1978. Ethnic Politics In Nigeria. Enugu: Fourth Dimension.
Nwoga, D. I. 1975. “Appraisal of Igbo Proverbs and Idioms” In Ogbalu, F. C. and
Emenanjo, E. N (Eds.), Igbo Language and Culture Ibadan: Oxford University Press.
Obaseki, P.J.1997. ‘Introduction’. Selected papers for the Nigerian Economics Society
Annual Conference on Poverty Alleviation in Nigeria, Ibadan.
Ogege, S. O. 2011. “Education and the paradox of graduate unemployment: The dilemma
of development in Nigeria”. African Research Review, Vol. 5, No. 1, January.
Ogundele, K., & Adetayo, O. (2013, December). “Corruption worsening in Nigeria – TI”.
Ogundiya, I.S. 2009. “The Cycle of Legitimacy Crisis in Nigeria:A Theoretical
Exploration”. Journal of Social Science, 20(2).
49. Okolo, A. 1999. “The Power and The Money”. Tell, (Lagos). No. 3, January 18.
50. Oluwadare C. T. 2005. “Family Institution in Nigeria: Implication for Citizenship
51. In Agagu A. A. & Omotoso F. (eds) Citizenship and Governmental Process. Lagos: Julius
& Julius Publishers.
52. Onimode, B. 2000. “Overview of Corruption and Organised Crime in Nigeria”. In Lame, &
a. Odekunle (Eds.), Fighting Corruption and Organised Crime in Nigeria:
b. Challenges for the New Millenium. Ibadan: Spectrum Books.
53. Osamba,J.O. 2011. “Power Sharing as a Mechanism of Managing Ethnopolitical Conflicts
in Post-Cold War Kenya”, Journal of Education and Social Sciences, Volume 1. Number 2.
54. Osaghae, E. E. 1992. “Managing Ethnic Conflicts under Democratic Transition in Africa:
The Promise, the Failure and the Future” in Canon, B. et al (eds) Proceedings of the
symposium on Democratic Transition in Africa. Ibadan. June 16 – 19.
55. Osaghae, E. E. (1995) “The Ogoni Uprising: Oil Politics, Minority Agitation and The
Future of The Nigerian State” African Affairs: 94.
Oyeleye, O. 1978. Survey of Nigerian Affairs. Ibadan: University Press Ltd.
Richard, J. 1983. Class, State and Prebendal Politics in Nigeria. The Journal of
Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, xxi (3).
Taiwo, O. (2000)” “Of Citizens and Citizenship” in CENCOD, Constitutionalism and
National Question, Lagos.
The Nation. 2009. 26 August.
The Oxford English Dictionary .1933. (Vol. VIII), Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Thompson, T. 1988. Fractured Jailed Sentence. Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishing Co.
Tordoff, W. 1997. Government and Politics in Africa (3rd Edition). London: Macmillan
Pierre L. van den Berghe, P.L. 1981. The Phenomenon. New York: Elsevier North
Vande, Philip Terzungwe. 2012. “Ethnicity and the Politics of State Creation in Nigeria”.
European Scientific Journal, Vol. 8, No. 16.
Williams, A. 2000. “First Closure, then the New Beginning”, Africa Today. 6 (10),
Unless otherwise stated, copyright or similar rights in all materials presented on the site, including graphical images, are owned by American Journal of Social Issues and Humanities (AJSIH).