Nigeria’s Democracy… Challenges Ahead


From Afunugo Amaechi

Nigeria's Economy
Goodluck Jonathan
Nigeria's democracy
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ACCORDING to the United States Political system and how it works authored by David Cushman Coyle, “politics is the way the human race behaves when it has democracy. In a democratic society, conflicting opinions on government’s acts and policies are ordinarily worked out without getting into a civil war. By politics, the author continued, the people provide the standards of Judgement and choose the government officials to apply them so as to get a result that will not be intolerable to any important parts of the community.

Some authors revealed that “America politics good and bad, express the mixed character of the American people and the past history in which not only governmental institutions but political habits have taken shape. The American form of government, he informed is partly an inheritance from the British colonial system of the 1,700’s and partly a new invention designed to meet the peculiar circumstances of American history”.

Among many nations, the quest for a democratic polity has become an over-riding priority. Nigerians too are not left out in this search.

Frankly speaking, institutionalization of democracy in Nigeria seems to be the surest way of bailing the nation out of the throes of identity crisis. A stigma that persistently shrouds the country’s image in the international circle during the military era.

The advent of the military in January 1966, changed the political orientation of the country and marked the beginning of militocracy, a new political culture.

Democracy is practiced in so many advanced countries of the world: America, Britain, Germany, South Africa and other American countries. America is leading the way under the presidential system followed by Britain which is running a parliamentary system of Government.

Since independence from Britain in 1960, Nigeria had one successful election in 1979, when Alhaji Shehu Shagari, a little known northen politician, defeated the veteran Southerner, Obafemi Awolowo.

The next election was in 1983 was acclaimed to be rigged to return Mr Shagari to power. Later he was overthrown by the army which ruled. In 1993, the Presidntial election appeared to have been won by a Southern business tycoon, Chief Moshood Abiola, before the results were out, the soldiers annulled the same.

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Option A4, the much acclaimed magic formula that usher in a “text” book” democratic third republic came not without leaving in its wake astring of unanswered questions. How democratic is this formular? Though option A4 has its merits but informed sources said it succumbed to the deadly virus of the Nigerian factor. “Nothing goes for nothing “became its unwritten motto. In Jos and Port Harcourt conventions – delegates turned themselves into ‘vote merchants’ tradeing their votes for thousands of naira. It was the politics of give and take. Money, whether big or small, once it is used as an inducement for votes has the same u ndesirable effects on quality of democracy.

In May 29, 1999, Nigerian seemed on a credible.1

course to end 15 years of military rule but it’s a long and difficult route – Chief Olusegun Obasanjo assumed power to pilot the affairs of this nation under the fourth Republic. Huge problems awaited this government – social unrest in the oil sector of the country, a collapse of long-neglected infrastructure  – particularly in telecommunications and electricity. Tackling these at best times would be hard, the new government had to sweat to persuade Nigerians that democracy is better than the military rule.

Yakubu Mohammed of the News watch caught the vision in his write up in the Nov 23, vol6 No 13, 1987 antitled “Pangs of survival” noted that “Nigeria was once a great country, its agricultural exports earned it the foreign exchange that provided the basic social and economic infrastructures on which everything else is built today. At the height of its glory, he pointed out, the country and people dream great dreams. There was the dream of turning that giant of Africa into an Eldorado”.

While researching to enhance quality of this write up – I saw the reasoning of Ike chukwu .E. Nwosu P.h. D in a publication: GUIDE TO CAREER IN PUBLIC RELATIONS, published by the Nigreian Institute of Public Relations, he advised “As we came to the end of the 20th century and get prepared for the next millennium, Nigeria and Nigerians need to do serious rethinking and take radical or drastic decisions and actions that will help to heal our present individual and national socio-economic and political “sores” and bruises”, ensure that new ones are not inflicted and move the country forward in the right direction, yes, in the right direction, because an individual or a nation may be moving forward but in the wrong direction”.

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Professor Nwosu caught the vision informed that “to move the nation in the right direction, we must ensure that our social, economic and political institutions are moving in the right direction.

He revealed that prompted the inception of Nigeria vision 2010 and Ghana’s vision 2020 – He warned it will be a disaster if we allow the noble patriotic, management and development ideals intrinsic in the vision statements, blue prints or plans in the vision statements to suffer from poor or lackadaisical implementation at all levels. He said – we must start now to pursue black goat before it becomes dark. We must now start working out practical and concrete implementation strategies and techniques as well as applying them in double quick march like pro-active manager. The above statement, he pointed out, assumes that all leaders of our nation and organizations are essentially managers, and that these leaders and their followers (all Nigerians) have realized that Nigerian’s main problem is management not resources. Yes, we have abundant human, natural and other resources anxiously waiting to be tapped and properly managed to move the nation forward”.

Writing in its editorial comment Tell magazine; March 15, 1996 in the front cover: RETURN OF OBASANJO – the challenges ahead”, pointed out that “”the election of a new president for the Federal Republic of Nigeria has provided the largest and most important African country with another chance. This is a historic opportunity, that presented the newman with – a historic challenge and historic responsibility. The writer continued – there is subdued enthusiasm across the country over the new threshold, but this is hardly surprising. The man who won the presidential election. General Olusegun Obasanjo, could hardly be considered a new man. In fact, in the opinion of a sizable fraction of the Nigerian population, he was part of the Nigerian population, he was part of the problem, one of those lines of disastrous military rulers who led us into the present quagmire. With whimsical turns and twists well administered by the leader. In this regard, the people render loyalty to the ruler for satisfying their needs.

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As we match towards 2019 general elections in Nigeria. Let me remind my readers the essential features of democracy Government must be responsible to the people, existence of basic democratic equality, existence of law. Among some of the essentials features of democracy includes – enjoyment of fundamental rights, periodic election, sensitivity of government to the needs of the people, existence of a free press ie freedom of the press.

The following political condition must also exist before democracy can be secured – there must be freely elected parliament, no intimidation of voters, there must be free judiciary.

Nigerian must watch it as we prepare again for 2019 general election when the whistle is blown for political game. Let the demagogue of the previous elections not resurface – politics of game not to become a tierry blood – thirsty battle, tribalism, nepotism corruption and genocide not metamorphosed into ghoulish aspect of our national life.

Let democracy we all fought and won from the military not be infested by the bug of our eurions, contagious national ailment: the Nigerian factor. Let democracy not be tinkered, moulded and reshaped into a grotesque caricature. A quesome oddity that defies description.


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