Do you doubt that Nigeria really is a democratic state? Then read this article to make sure!
Nigeria is called Africa's largest democratic country not by accident. But is Nigeria really a democratic state? The country has a population of 175 million people (the seventh place in the world, even bigger than Russia).
There have been relatively free and fair presidential elections for the past fifteen years. And it’s a well-known fact that the president lost in the past election.
It is basically another proof of the seriousness of the changes in the country.
It means a lot to us who have spent nearly forty first years of the history having the military dictatorship. And as a rule it was really severe.
Is Nigeria a democratic state or not?
Of course, the democracy in Nigeria is not perfect. The situation here is similar to that of India (it’s also called "the largest democracy of the world") in some ways. The formal democratic institutions and procedures are still not that involved in society’s life.
Moreover, the real politics works in accordance with the traditions and customs of the tribal and oligarchic systems. But even though we still have problems, there certainly are the improvements.
It was the fifth election since 1999 when we don’t have to worry that we will have and dishonest election.
And even during this time there were some serious threats to the democratic system. President Umaru Yar'Adua died in his post and was replaced by Vice President Goodluck Jonathan.
The extremist group "Boko Haram” stepped up in recent years. Its crimes, such as kidnapping hundreds of schoolgirls shocked the whole world.
What made it possible to Nigeria to gain democracy despite the events that were more likely to make the situation worse?
First of all, it’s the dependence on oil. Its production is concentrated in a very small area but all the states are dependent on it.
So the states and ethnic groups are afraid to lose their source of income. It’s obvious that there’s no chance we can survive without the oil production.
Secondly, Sani Abacha, the last of the generals-dictators finally discredited the military rule. When he was a head of the country, it was internationally isolated because of the egregious human rights violations and executions of the political activists.
Moreover, the corruption has reached an unbelievable level. At the same time the military did not get any positive results even before. The conflicts always ended with the wholesale massacre of the opponents.
The third factor of the success of democracy in Nigeria is quite paradoxical. Two of the same generals that led the country during the military dictatorships in the 1970-1980's, were able to turn to civilian politicians.
They contributed to the establishment of democracy a lot. Olusegun Obasanjo, a Christian and a southerner, has made the most important contribution to the fact that Nigeria is entrenched in the way of democracy.
He was the military ruler in the 1976-1979 years. He was the first in the history of Nigeria to have handed the power over to the elected civilian politics.
However, that experiment was unsuccessful. And in 1983 the military seized power again. They thought that "a spoiled democracy is worse than its absence."
Obasanjo, as an elder statesman, criticized the dictators and went to prison.
The democracy in our African country has a lot of centres of influence. We are proud of our linguistic, cultural and religious characteristics.
Even the military and terrorist threats, both in the South and in the North, are not a reason to cut political freedoms.
So are you still wondering is Nigeria a liberal democratic state? Well, the answer is simple. Even though we still have to work hard on some things, we do have a democracy.
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