In this article we will critically access the concept of democracy, the reason behind Nigerian’s Democracy, how democratic the country has being since it switched to a presidential system of Government, it’s hindrances so far as a democratic country and the way forward.

What is Democracy?

Democracy is a system of government where power is vested in the people, either directly or through elected representatives. It emphasizes the principles of political equality, majority rule, and protection of individual rights.

Features of a Democratic Country

A democratic country typically exhibits features such as regular free and fair elections, respect for the rule of law, protection of individual rights and freedoms, separation of powers among different branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial), freedom of speech and the press, and the existence of multiple political parties.

Why did Nigeria adopt the Democratic system of Government?

Nigeria adopted the democratic system of government primarily as a response to the end of military rule and as a means to transition to civilian governance. The reasons for this adoption include:

International Pressure: Nigeria faced pressure from the international community to democratize following years of military dictatorship. This pressure came from various actors including foreign governments, international organizations, and civil society groups advocating for human rights and democracy.

Domestic Demand for Change: Within Nigeria, there was widespread dissatisfaction with military rule due to issues such as corruption, human rights abuses, and economic mismanagement. Civil society organizations, political parties, and ordinary citizens pushed for democratic reforms and the restoration of civilian rule.

Desire for Political Stability: The military era was marked by frequent coups, instability, and governance challenges. Adopting a democratic system was seen as a way to establish a more stable political environment conducive to economic development and social progress.

Inclusivity and Participation: Democracy offers opportunities for broader political participation and representation, allowing diverse groups within Nigeria to have a voice in decision-making processes. This inclusivity was seen as essential for national unity and social cohesion in a country with a diverse population.

Legitimacy and Governance: Democratic governance provides a system of government based on popular consent, with leaders elected through free and fair elections. This enhances the legitimacy of the government and fosters accountability, transparency, and respect for the rule of law.

Does Democracy really exist in the country or is it a mere documentation?

This is a multi-facet question that numerous answers should be attributed to.
And this questions can be attributed to lots of factors

Democracy in Nigeria faces several significant challenges:

Electoral Issues
Of a fact democracy gives everyone a right to vote and be voted for but we still find some issues such as:
Election Rigging: Problems such as vote-buying, ballot box stuffing, and manipulation of results undermine the credibility of elections.

Violence: Electoral violence, including intimidation and clashes between rival groups, can deter participation and affect the fairness of the process.

Corruption as stated earlier was one of the reasons Nigeria switched from the military to democracy rule. Although of a truth, measures has been put in place by the government to fight corruption such as the War Against Corruption(WAC) team established amongst others but then issues of corruption still creeps on us in various forms

Pervasive Corruption: Corruption is widespread in both the public and private sectors, affecting government efficiency, public trust, and the equitable distribution of resources.

Mismanagement: Corruption leads to mismanagement of public funds, impacting infrastructure development and public services.

Ethnic and Religious Tensions

Diversity Challenges: Nigeria’s ethnic and religious diversity can lead to conflicts, affecting national unity and political stability.

Sectarian Violence: Disputes between different ethnic and religious groups sometimes escalate into violence, influencing political decisions and alignment.

Weak Institutions
Judicial Independence: The judiciary often faces interference from the executive, undermining the rule of law.

Legislative Ineffectiveness: The legislature may lack the capacity or will to perform its oversight functions effectively, weakening checks and balances.

Insecurity currently in the country is on the rise… Lives of the citizens are threatened, people cannot move freely as there is fear of one being kidnapped, killed, raped. Farmers cannot farm, the country is crying as food insecurity remains a significant issue in the country that needs to be tackled but what can be done?

Terrorism: Insurgent groups like Boko Haram and armed bandits destabilize regions, impacting governance and development

Crime and Violence: High levels of crime, including kidnappings and armed robbery, create an insecure environment for citizens.

Economic Disparities
Are we to talk about the devaluation of our currency or the extreme inflation, or the misappropriation of funds or the minimum wage that isn’t sufficient to feed the average family amongst others such as

Poverty: Significant portions of the population live in poverty, which can hinder democratic participation and exacerbate social tensions.

Unemployment: High unemployment rates, especially among youth, can lead to disenfranchisement and social unrest.

Weak Civil Society

Limited Engagement: Civil society organizations often struggle with limited resources and capacity, affecting their ability to effectively advocate for democratic reforms and hold the government accountable.

Suppression: There are instances of government suppression of civil society activities, including restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression.

Media Freedom

Censorship: Restrictions on press freedom and censorship hinder the media’s role in holding government accountable and providing unbiased information.

Harassment: Journalists may face harassment or threats, affecting their ability to report freely.

Political Patronage
Clientelism: Political patronage and clientelism undermine merit-based governance and lead to inefficiencies in public administration.

Partisan Loyalty: Political decisions may be influenced by loyalty to parties or leaders rather than public interest.

Governance and Rule of Law
Bureaucratic Inefficiency:

Inefficiency and red tape within government agencies slow down decision-making and implementation of policies.

Legal System Weaknesses: Delays and corruption in the legal system can lead to injustices and reduce public confidence in democratic processes.

How can these issues be addressed?

Electoral Issues

Strengthening Electoral Commission: Improve the independence and capacity of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure free and fair elections.
Electoral Reforms: Implement reforms to reduce electoral fraud, enhance voter education, and promote transparency in the voting process.

Security Measures: Increase security during elections to prevent violence and ensure safe participation for all citizens.

Anti-Corruption Agencies: Empower and ensure the independence of agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate and prosecute corruption cases effectively.

Transparency Initiatives: Promote transparency in government operations through open data initiatives and public access to government spending information.

Public Accountability: Encourage citizen participation in monitoring government projects and expenditures through community-based oversight mechanisms.

Ethnic and Religious Tensions

Dialogue and Reconciliation: Foster inter-ethnic and inter-religious dialogue to build understanding and reconciliation, addressing grievances through peaceful means.

Inclusive Policies: Develop and implement policies that promote social inclusion and equitable resource distribution among different ethnic and religious groups.

Education and Awareness: Educate the public on tolerance and the benefits of diversity through community programs and school curricula.

Weak Institutions

Judicial Independence: Ensure the judiciary’s independence by safeguarding judicial appointments and tenure from political influence.

Legislative Strengthening: Build the capacity of the legislature to effectively perform its oversight functions, including training lawmakers and providing resources for research and analysis.

Civil Service Reforms: Reform the civil service to improve efficiency, reduce bureaucratic red tape, and promote merit-based appointments.


Security Sector Reform: Modernize and reform the security forces to enhance their effectiveness, accountability, and respect for human rights.

Community Policing: Implement community policing strategies to involve local communities in maintaining security and addressing local concerns.

Development Programs: Address the root causes of insecurity through development programs that provide economic opportunities and social services in affected regions.

Economic Disparities

Economic Diversification: Diversify the economy to reduce reliance on oil and create job opportunities in sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, and services.

Social Safety Nets: Develop and expand social safety net programs to support the most vulnerable populations and reduce poverty.

Education and Skills Training: Invest in education and vocational training to equip the workforce with skills needed for employment in various industries.

Weak Civil Society

Capacity Building: Support the capacity building of civil society organizations (CSOs) through funding, training, and technical assistance.

Legal Protections: Ensure legal protections for CSOs and activists to operate without fear of harassment or repression.

Public Engagement: Encourage CSOs to engage with the public through awareness campaigns, community projects, and advocacy for democratic reforms.

Media Freedom

Protect Journalists: Establish and enforce legal protections for journalists to prevent harassment and ensure their safety.

Promote Press Freedom: Enact laws that safeguard freedom of the press and reduce censorship and state interference.

Support Independent Media: Encourage the development of independent media outlets and provide training for investigative journalism.

Political Patronage
Merit-Based Appointments: Implement merit-based recruitment and promotion systems in public administration to reduce clientelism.

Campaign Finance Reform: Regulate political party financing to minimize the influence of wealthy patrons and promote transparency.

Public Service Ethics: Develop and enforce codes of conduct for public officials to prevent conflicts of interest and patronage.

Governance and Rule of Law

Judicial Reforms: Streamline the legal process to reduce delays and ensure timely justice, including reducing case backlogs and improving court infrastructure.

Public Administration

Reform: Improve efficiency in public administration through process optimization, digital governance, and capacity-building initiatives.

Rule of Law Initiatives: Promote adherence to the rule of law through public education campaigns and enforcement of laws without bias.

Addressing these challenges requires collaborative efforts from the government, civil society, private sector, and international partners, alongside a long-term commitment to reform and development.

The growth of the nation is not the responsibility of a single individual, all hands must be on deck for the country’s issues to be resolved.

As Nigeria celebrates 25 years as a democratic Nation, everyone should carry out their roles effectively, only then can the country be a better place.






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