It is fifty-four years since the British colonial overlords departed Nigerian geo-political space living the stage for indigenous rulers. Fifty four years of independence provides opportunity for discourse, on good governance as Nigeria features prominently in the crises in Africa. Literature is awash with prognoses on the probable causes of this parlous state. There is a growing consensus that lack of probity and accountability are responsible for the appalling governance situation in Africa. Scholars in Nigeria taking a cue from polemics on politics and administration dichotomy and its dialectics in the western hemisphere have been arguing about the helplessness of public administration in Nigeria’s crisis of governance. Tracing the history of Nigeria’s political leadership and its bureaucracy, the paper provides a descriptive analysis of the crisis in Nigeria within the context of the nature of political leadership (colonial, post-colonial, military and civilian) and argues that neither Nigerian political leadership nor the bureaucracy are blameless using the theoretical stand-points of structural/functionalism and elitism especially in view of the influential role the bureaucracy had opportunity to play during the inexperienced three decades of military rule out of Nigeria’s five decades of independence. Recommendations include: a coherent and comprehensive bureaucratic reform that will wean the Nigerian public service from western-inspired top-down development paradigm to bottom-up approach; that there should be social re-orientation designed to eschew primordial values that promote nepotism and mediocrity; that merit should not be sacrificed on the altar of “sense of self-belonging” in Nigerian federation; and that Max Weber bureaucratic model should be adapted to grass-roots participatory governance.
Keywords: Bureaucracy, Governance, Political Leadership, Probity
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