Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced great oscillations in democratic progress and retreat. Authoritarian modernization has taken root, notably in Ethiopia and Rwanda. No paradigm captures the complexity and volatility. Some argue that autocratic governance produces development outcomes while competitive clientelism encourages corruption and social distress. Nigeria presents a paradox of reform and dysfunction, of growth and discordant development, of minority affluence and mass poverty. The northern region has undergone economic and political decline. The failure to defeat Boko Haram reflects the prebendalist corrosion of state institutions. The February 2015 election is a dismaying hurdle for the Nigerian system of conglomerate governance.