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Assessing our democracy

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By KENNETH DARENG

Since the return to civilian rule in 1999, Nigeria’s democratic journey has been marked by disappointment and frustration. Despite the transition from military rule, the country’s democratic progress has been hindered by poor leadership, corruption, and electoral malpractices. As Nigeria commemorates 25 years of democratic rule, it is essential to reflect on the gains and challenges of the country’s democratic journey.

 

Nigeria’s current democratic journey began in 1999, after years of military rule. The country’s transition to democracy was marked by high hopes and expectations, with many Nigerians believing that democracy would bring about economic prosperity, political stability, and good governance. However, 25 years later, Nigeria’s democratic journey has been marked by disappointment and frustration.

One of the significant challenges facing Nigeria’s democracy is poor leadership. The country has been plagued by leaders who prioritize their interests over the needs of the people. This has led to a disconnect between the political class and the masses, with politicians focusing on enriching themselves rather than addressing the country’s economic and social challenges.

Corruption is another significant challenge facing Nigeria’s democracy. The country has been ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, with corruption permeating all levels of government and society. Corruption has undermined Nigeria’s economic development, with billions of dollars lost to corrupt practices each year.

Electoral malpractices are also a significant challenge facing Nigeria’s democracy. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has been accused of bias and incompetence, with elections often marred by violence, fraud, and irregularities. This has led to a lack of confidence in the electoral process, with many Nigerians believing that elections are rigged in favor of the ruling party.

Despite these challenges, Nigeria has made some progress in its democratic journey. The country has held six successful elections since 1999, with power transferring peacefully from one civilian government to another. Nigeria has also made significant progress in areas such as infrastructure development, with the country’s economy growing at an average rate of 7% per year over the past decade.

However, despite these gains, Nigeria’s democratic journey is still facing significant challenges. The country’s economy is still largely dependent on oil, with the country vulnerable to fluctuations in global oil prices. Nigeria’s infrastructure is also still underdeveloped, with the country facing significant challenges in areas such as power generation, transportation, and healthcare.

To address these challenges, Nigeria needs transformative leaders who can drive economic growth and development. The country needs leaders who are committed to good governance, accountability, and transparency. Nigeria also needs to strengthen its democratic institutions, including the electoral commission and the judiciary, to ensure that they are independent and impartial.

Nigeria can learn from other countries that have achieved significant economic progress despite not being democracies. Singapore, for example, has achieved significant economic progress under an authoritarian government, with the country’s economy growing at an average rate of 10% per year over the past decade. China has also achieved significant economic progress, with the country’s economy growing at an average rate of 10% per year over the past decade.

However, Nigeria’s democratic journey is not just about economic progress. It is also about political stability, good governance, and human rights. Nigeria needs to ensure that its democratic institutions are strong and independent, with the country’s leaders committed to accountability and transparency.

Nigeria’s democratic journey has been marked by disappointment and frustration. However, the country has made some progress in areas such as infrastructure development and economic growth. To address the challenges facing its democratic journey, Nigeria needs transformative leaders who can drive economic growth and development, strengthen democratic institutions, and ensure accountability and transparency. With the right leadership and policies, Nigeria can achieve significant economic progress and become a beacon of democracy in Africa.

Arising from the above submissions, this writer suggests the following measures as a way of strengthening our democracy:

Electing transformative leaders who can drive economic growth and development; strengthening democratic institutions and ensuring the independence of the judiciary and INEC; and improving electoral management and ensuring free and fair elections.

Others include addressing corruption and ensuring accountability in government; prioritizing the needs of the masses over the interests of politicians; encouraging foreign investment and improving health, education, and social welfare services; diversifying the economy and industrializing the country; and providing a roadmap for long-term development and economic growth.

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