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PhD Thesis Abstract

'An Assessment of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM): The case of Nigeria'

This thesis assesses the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) as it has played out in Nigeria. The APRM is an initiative by the African Union (AU) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to promote good governance through self-assessment and monitoring by African states. The APRM is particularly interesting as a continental (rather than single-country) programme which puts the good governance agenda in the hands of African states themselves (rather than international financial institutions, for example).

Focusing on the National Programme of Action (NPoA) of 2009 - 2012, the research finds that the APRM has had little or no impact on governance in Nigeria. Notwithstanding the NPoA’s limited contributions to national development, the entire process has failed to recognise, engage and tackle the underlying socio-political dynamics of politics in the country, which have the most impact on governance structures and processes. The thesis accounts for this outcome by examining structure (through the role of actors) and underlying socio-political dynamics, both nationally and internationally. In terms of actors the research explores the role of individual leaders, NEPAD and APRM secretariats (national and continental), federal state representatives, regional and sub-regional organisations, international donors, and civil society in the APRM process. In terms of underlying factors, Richard Joseph’s theory of prebendalism gives analytical power to understanding the APRM within Nigeria’s political culture, while the neo-Gramscian perspective of cultural hegemony enables an analysis of the APRM within the broader international context. Both contribute to a holistic assessment of the APRM in Nigeria. Neither one of these two theoretical contributions is able to offer a comprehensive assessment if used unmodified or on their own.

The APRM has the potential to open new political spaces for collaborative engagement between government and civil society in Nigeria, with the possibility of beneficial effects for governance and accountability. So far, however, this potential has not been realised. This must be judged as a significant shortcoming to date.

Research Interests

  • Globalisation and development
  • Governance and development in Africa
  • Regionalism and regionalisation in Africa
  • Politics of the Islamic World
  • Sino-African relations
  • Alternative development theories
  • Democratisation in Africa
  • Contemporary African social and political thought