Nigeria’s connection with democracy has had the same exact makeup of a bad relationship. In the year of 1959 elections were held under the adopted “Westminster” model of democracy but the country did not acquire republican status until the year of 1963. From these elections leaders were voted for and held governmental status yet ever since corruption, military coups, and shady politicians have come into play we have seen a decline in the public’s willingness to participate. This has discouraged the benefits and advancement of the country due to the disinclusion of its citizens. Their first republic came to an end in the year of 1966 due to a military coup led by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu. He brutally murdered many of the senior Nigerians holding elected positions including the Prime Minister, a federal mister, two regional premiers, a few army officers, and other pedestrians attempting to flee the scene. Over this period of democratic trial runs multiple military coups have taken place and as of 1999 to 2021 this is the longest hold the country has had over democracy ever. Why though in the year of 2021 has Nigeria not seen a significant change in the implementation of progresive ideas and electoral practices over an almost 60 year time span.
What is the main source of democratic erosion in Nigeria?
As of right now corruption poses the biggest threat to democracy within Nigeria. It seems that the people who are upholding these positions are governing to benefit only a few and not the nigerian community as a whole. Funds are going to the advancement and benefit of those already in power and hold some kind of capital rather than disbursing the wealth. In the year of 2005 Nigeria ranked to be the 8th most corrupt state and overtime has remained pretty stagnant in their development. The country is said to have lost over $400 billion dollars due to the manipulation within the government. Nigeria is home to some very prominent oil and gas industries bringing in over 90% of all Nigerian export revenue. The ownership of these companies and shares held by those in power allow for a disproportionate distribution of wealth. With almost half of Nigeria’s population living in extreme poverty and rising at a constant rate, it is hard to see economic liberation for its people under a broken democracy.
Elections within Nigeria
Elections within Nigeria pose a big threat to democratic erosion. Over the years the amount of voters has declined at a very consistent rate due to civilian distrust, poor organization, and violence. Political interest has taken such a big hit in the country that two out of three voters do not stress the issue to show up for presidential elections. People do not trust the politicians and the process of voting, not just in Nigeria involves long lines, faulty voting equipment, and creates an unnecessary inconvenience. Electoral violence is also very prominent and has become an adopted political malpractice within the country to satisfy those electeds grasp for power. This includes the terrorizing of voters, stealing ballot boxes, and other forms of physical assault. For example the 2011 Presidential Election ended with civil unrest, skies filled with smoke from burning buildings, the vandalization of government property, and wrongful deaths took place in northern states. There are many factors that feed into this chaotic way of governing which would take a lot of group effort to fix but mostly from structural changes in which these people who participate are held accountable.
Symptoms of Democratic Erosion
The bad governance, electoral malpractices, violence, and poverty all pour into the illegitimacy of the country. Because of the corruption within Nigeria we have seen the people suffer extremely from the bad choices of an unhelpful government and terrorism. These precursors of democratic erosion such as electoral violence, fraud, polarization, nonstate violence, and more lead to some pretty terrible symptoms that are very noticeable within their society. People’s civil liberties have been curtailed and ignored under many of the politicians ruling making it impossible for them to participate in change. Because of how hard it is to vote in Nigeria they have pretty bad voter turnout and many no confidence votes which push people further away from the growth of democracy. Media repression has come into play where the government has indeed stopped people and news from sharing the occurrences that happen there and severely makes their government look bad. The diminishing of the citizens rights and set up of the government offers no pushback to those who hold power and give them free reign with no prosecution of their bad actions.
“Electoral Violence In Nigeria; History, Causes, Effects And Way Forward.” Information Guide in Nigeria, 19 July 2018, infoguidenigeria.com/electoral-violence-nigeria/.
Ikechi, Kanu Success, and Nwadiubu Anthony. “Global Oil Price Shocks and Effects on Economic Growth: An Econometric Investigation of Nigeria.” Research Leap, 27 Mar. 2021, researchleap.com/global-oil-price-shocks-and-effects-on-economic-growth-an-econometric-investigation-of-nigeria/.
Chibuzor Aguwa is the CEO and Founder of Nigerian Fact, et al. “History of Democracy in Nigeria and When Did Nigeria Became a Republic?” Nigerian Fact, 15 Dec. 2018, nigerianfact.com/history-of-democracy-in-nigeria/#:~:text=Nevertheless%2C%20the%20democracy%20story%20in%20Nigeria%20can%20be,government%20until%20it%20eventually%20became%20a%20democratic%20nation.
“Wars, Conflicts, and Coups of Nigeria: The History Guy: War and Conflicts News.” The History Guy, 26 May 2014, historyguy.com/nigerian_wars_conflicts_coups.htm.