Download Democracy in Nigeria Practice, Problems and Prospects

Democracy in Nigeria

Democracy and Nigeria are like Siamese twins; though conjoined, they are uncomfortable and under intense pressure
that could result in all forms of hurt, even death. Although, democracy may not be strange to an overwhelming
percentage of Nigerians; what may be strange to them is the brand of democracy that invests, first and foremost, in
human and material resources for the purposes of political stability, economic viability, scientific advancement,
technological breakthrough, educational development and life-enhancing social services. Given the general optimism
that Nigeria was going to be the bastion of democracy in Africa following her independence from Britain in 1960,
one should normally expect that by now democracy should be deeply rooted and institutionalised in the country.
Ironically and unfortunately, Nigeria, as far as the practise and delivery of dividends of liberal democracy is
concerned, is yet a cripple that can barely stand let alone walk or run.
This paper asserts that Nigerian democracy has three outstanding features. First, it is spendthrift. Nigerian
democracy is a brand of democracy that spends so much to accomplish so little (where and when it achieves anything
at all). Second, it invests in the comfort of officials rather than in human and material resources. In fact, the welfare
of the common man occupies the bottom rung on the ladder of the priorities of the anchors of Nigerian democracy.
Third, Nigerian democracy is plagued by hydra-headed and pathological corruption that ensures that the impact of
any seeming good policy is either extremely negligible or almost exactly nil. The paper however concludes that
while the balance sheet of democracy in Nigeria may be less than satisfactory; all hope is not lost as the desire for the
practice of true democracy amongst Nigerians remains unassailably high.


After gaining independence in 1960 from Great Britain, Nigeria fell prey to civil war and the first of so many military coups in 1966. Democracy was briefly restored from 1979 to 1983 to the country, but for most of its independent history, Nigeria was ruled by a series of military juntas. The last major military ruler, Gen. Sani Abacha, died suddenly in 1998. His successor, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar promised a transition to democracy, and accordingly a new constitution was adopted on May 5th, 1999. Elections were held and retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, who had previously governed Nigeria as a military ruler, was elected the new president.

The end of military rule brought about a new era of regular elections as well as the return of civil liberties, free press and an end to arbitrary arrests and torture, although human rights violations still occur regularly. Nigeria also began a long campaign against the bureaucratic and military corruption that had paralyzed its economy and severely tarnished its international reputation


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