Far-Right Conservatism: Nigeria, France, and the Future

In recent years, the left-right political spectrum in European governments has seen a broadening of views, with the rise of far-right populism being prominent. France has been at the epicentre of this movement, witnessing constant shifts and debates, especially in recent weeks. Concurrently, ‘alpha-male’ conservatism has gained traction in various parts of the world, including Nigeria.

 This article explores the relationship between far-right movements and alpha-male ideologies in Nigerian politics, the occurrence and reasons for patriarchy in politics and leadership, the role of religion, the lack of clear political ideologies in Nigerian political parties, and the possible effects of these issues.

Where France Meets Nigeria

In a risky gamble, France’s President Emmanuel Macron exercised his presidential right to dissolve the parliament and called a snap election to “test the public.” After being dealt a huge blow with the far-right winning significant votes in the parliamentary elections, he runs the risk of handing over major power to the National Rally party. Although he aims to give Le Pen’s party a chance before his tenure ends so the public sees his value, the results of July 7th’s elections will depend on how determined left and centre-wing voters are to keep the far right from control.

So, who are the far-right, and what do they have to do with Nigeria?

During the 1789 French Revolution, political thoughts emerged, giving rise to the modern left-right spectrum. Those seated on the left side of the elected French assembly were democrats and proponents of universal suffrage, while those on the right were monarchists and conservatives. Modern far-right politics tend to be very conservative, nationalist, and nativist. They can be associated with ideologies like Nazism, fascism, and other authoritarian and reactionary views.

Modern far-right political parties, often referred to as “radical-right” parties, include groups like white supremacists and anti-Semites. Although they may comply with majoritarian republican views, they are still placed on the far right due to their extreme ideologies.

Patriarchy and the Far-Right

When the word “leader” is mentioned, the image that comes to mind for most is that of a man.  Leaders are stereotypically male and dominant, a factor that translates to the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions. The expectations and preferences for male leaders are one of the causes of the Alpha-male syndrome. Alpha males are supposedly ‘results-driven, bold, self-confident, and demanding’. In politics and leadership, alpha-male ideologies are characterised by strongman leadership, traditional values, and resistance to progressive changes. There’s an emphasis on law and order, nationalism, and traditional gender roles. This kind of ideology is similar to far-right supremacist and reactionary ideas, often described as the connecting link between far-right and male supremacist movements.

Alpha males are almost always right-wing because hierarchical systems leave no room for equality or egalitarianism as the left would prefer. The right is equally comfortable with dominant men. There’s no in-between: you can’t have a liberal leader high in dominance.

The Nigerian Conversation

In modern-day Nigeria, studies show that less than 7% of Nigerian women hold political positions. Gender ideologies, culture, and predetermined social roles make it difficult for women to get involved in politics. Political parties, already run by men, select candidates, limiting women’s contributions. Contribution by the lucky few women selected is limited by a culture of female subordination. Alpha-male conservatism in Nigerian political parties reflects patriarchal beliefs rather than liberal, progressive values.

Pre-colonial Nigeria offered more opportunities for women to lead. Although patriarchy already existed, women were allowed to offer ‘complimentary’ roles to those of men, and exemplary ones were sometimes given more power.

Everything changed when Europe attacked.  

Britain, the original colonial masters, introduced parliamentary systems and gender politics. The already patriarchal society became a fraternity, reducing women’s value to their reproductive capabilities while men dominated public roles.  A section of South-Western women were not allowed to vote until 1959, some in the North till 1976. Women were not permitted to sit in parliaments, nor work in the civil service.

In Nigeria, right-wing politics and alpha-male cultures are intertwined in ways that reflect both global trends and local socio-cultural dynamics.  Far-right tendencies in the country emphasise the preservation of traditional values, which resonate with alpha-male figures like former President Muhammadu Buhari who was celebrated for his authoritarian leadership style, reminiscent of military strongmen who have played significant roles in Nigeria’s political history. Look where that has led us.

This anti-progressive stance involves resistance to gender equality movements and LGBTQ+ rights, perceived as threats to societal order and male power. Socio-economic instability is exploited by leaders offering simplistic, often authoritarian solutions to complex problems like harsh anti-corruption measures and stringent immigration policies pleasing Nigerians looking for leaders who promise quick solutions.

Religious leaders frequently support these conservative values, shaping public opinion and political outcomes.  Women are taught submission and loyalty, while men believe in their intellectual superiority. Women who assert power are described negatively- emotional, strict, or rude- in contrast to men whose similar traits are glorified.

Post-colonialism, years of military rule by power-hungry men destroyed the foundations of ideologically driven politics. Now, Nigerian political parties are often personality-driven lacking clear ideological foundations and focusing instead on individual leaders.

Back then, parties like Awolowo’s Action Group (AG) could be identified as social democrats. Now, The major parties, APC and PDP, have more in common than not, reducing politics to a game of money laundering and alpha dog godfatherism. Lacking strong party visions, party members deflect, and voters struggle to differentiate between party agendas, their poll decisions influenced by history, personalities, and ethnicity.

Europe’s Far-Right Surge is A Concern

The rise of far-right politics in Europe could influence Nigeria significantly. European far-right parties emphasize strict immigration controls and nationalist policies, which could encourage similar sentiments in Nigeria and worsen existing tensions. Protectionist policies in Europe might also impact trade relations with African countries.

European far-right movements promote a strong sense of national identity and cultural homogeneity, rejecting multiculturalism and emphasizing native cultural values. If adopted, this could deepen divisions in Nigeria, as seen in its history with Biafra.

Nigeria’s alpha-male issues go beyond feminist rights and patriarchy; they influence the very fabric of governance. The rise of alpha-male conservatism in Nigeria is noticeable and alarming. Further influence from far-right ideologies in Europe could unfold disturbing movements, affecting Nigeria’s political and economic landscape.

So, the overlap between right-wing ideas and alpha-male cultures is evident. The rise of far-right politics in Europe could influence Nigeria’s trajectory, potentially shifting it from not just part-right to full right. Therefore, the question now is if France’s elections impact not just her fate, but the globe’s including Nigeria’s. 

July 7th, folks. Mark the date.

Rodiyah Khidir


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