This expository article is written with the intent of bringing to the limelight the positive and negative impacts of Nigerian Democracy.
Every nation-state across the African continent and the world at large thrives towards protecting the integrity and economic gains of its territory.
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To this end, political systems are deployed, economic policies are made and social systems are initiated. The development of a given nation is tied first to the political system, then the economic system.
Nigeria which is known as the largest economic state in Africa sought and achieved independence from the bond of colonialism in 1960, thus, making Nigeria be sovereign, to practice free will, and to determine her own fate.
At 19 years of democratic governance today, the impacts of democracy on Nigeria is crystal clear to all citizens and non-citizens.
It is very obvious that the Nigerian has suffered more from democracy instead of benefits. Thus, we will be laying emphasis on the negative impacts of democracy in Nigeria. Democracy.
Democracy is a political system that upholds political freedom and equality (i.e. “the spirit of democracy”). It is defined as a former government under the direct or representative rule of the people and will of the people.
It is a people’s influenceable government. This led to the popular assertion that democracy is the “government of the people, by the people and for the people”.
In commemoration of the restoration of democracy in Nigeria via the democratic election which saw the emergence of Olusegun Obasanjo as the first democratically elected President of Nigeria in 1999 which ended multiple decades of military regimes that began in 1966, May 29th of every year was set aside as a public holiday to mark the Democracy Day.
Nigeria in the last 19 years of democratic stay has enjoyed mixed impacts of democracy with the negative impacts almost, if not totally overriding the positive impacts.
At the early prima-facie, democracy was believed to mark the turnaround/watershed in terms of the political history of Nigeria as well as champion the beginning of New Nigeria but so far, it is evident that Nigerian democracy has not lived up to its expectations.
In the words of a Nigerian writer and Noble Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka “Let us say there are prospects for a new Nigeria but I don’t think we have a new Nigeria yet”. How be it, Nigeria has enjoyed little benefits and advantages of being a democratic nation.
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Advantages or Positive Impacts of Nigerian Democracy are as follows:
1. International recognition
International recognition and membership in Global organizations like United Nations, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union(AU), etc.
2. Power Sharing
3. The supremacy of the will of the people
4. Right to vote and be voted for
5. Active Citizenry/Participation of the masses in governance
6. Fundamental Human Rights
Disadvantages or Negative Impacts of Nigerian Democracy are as follows:
The democratic era of Nigeria has witnessed a high rate of corruption on the path of both elected and appointed officials.
The modern-day Nigerian democracy has been described as ‘stomach democracy’. This is because of the inability of leaders to account for the funds allocated to the office.
Democracy has seen public funds being diverted into private and foreign accounts by our leaders. Leaders today live in largesse and own expensive properties beyond their legitimate.
In reaction to the increasing rate of corruption in Nigeria, Patrick Obioma Umeh, a poet in his poem titled ‘Ambassadors of Poverty’ described our democratic leaders as “Ambassadors of poverty, with their heads abroad and buttocks at home”.
Today, our economy is in a state of a quagmire, we have death traps as roads, poor health care, and educational facilities, poor industrialization and very pitiably, insecurity of lives and properties, all these are occasioned as a result of a high rate of corruption in Nigerian democracy.
2. Electoral Violence and Malpractices
Truly, true democracy is known during the transition period. Over the years, the electioneering periods in Nigeria have recorded with violence and malpractices; like manipulation of results, snatching of ballot boxes by hired thugs, partiality on the path of the electoral body, killings, etc.
The high rate of killings during elections in Nigeria has aroused fear in the lives of electorates and this has prompted the low participation of citizens during elections.
3. Poor Dividends of Democracy
In terms of rendering services to the people, democracy has not lived up to the expectations of providing the dividends of democracy to the people.
The major responsibility of a Democratic government is the protection of the lives and properties of her citizens but in the case of Nigeria, the issue of security has been politicized. For example, the current insurgency problem in the North East.
Also, violation of human rights has become the order of the day in a modern democracy. The provision of social amenities in recent times has been very poor.
For example, electricity, enabling business environment, water supply, education, the social welfare system, etc.
4. Wrong Choice of Public Servants and Incompetency
That not all individuals who are under a democratic government are aware of the political and social circumstances in their country is a Truism.
In voting systems, the majority of the most favoured candidate wins irrespective of his past records, level of education, and leadership charisma.
A candidate might emerge winner based on other factors other than the required people-oriented capability.
With this manner of operation, we discover that the elected leaders may not be able to deliver to the people, the dividends of democracy and may likely seize the opportunity to enrich him/herself, family and generations yet to come with public funds because of lack of goodwill for the people.
We hope this was helpful!