An Appraisal of Administrative Justice and Good Governance in Nigeria

  •  Juwayriya Badamasiuy    
  •  Muhammad Bello    


Administrative justice is generally seen as a component of good governance. While the former has developed in Nigeria largely through the Common Law, the latter is a relatively emerging ideal that has eluded public administration in Nigeria. For decades, corruption and maladministration have become the central problems facing the country. The people have suffered and are still suffering from the consequences of poor governance. This article examines administrative justice as an element of good governance in Nigeria. It demonstrates that the problems are the results of misuse of administrative discretion at all levels of government and the lack of sufficient accountability mechanisms. Although efforts have been made to address these problems through legal and intitutional reforms, however, the problems still persist. Using these twin concepts of administrative justice and good governance, this article argues that the legal and institutional reforms undertaken to address the problems have not been effective because they failed to approach the problems from the ‘inside-out’. The article partly attributes the failure of the reforms to the restrictive approach in administrative justice, a ‘top-bottom’ approach bequethed by the common law and incorporated into the general legal and constitutional arrangement in the country. While advocating for a ‘bottom-up’ approach which constrains the exercise of administrative discretion at all levels, from the individual ‘street level bureaucrat’ to the top government official, the article proposes the institutionalisation of democratic values of checks and balance, oppenness, transperancy and accountability in decision-taking such that official discretion may be reasonably constrained without jeopardising administrative efficiency.

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