Nigeria’s Democratization Caused for Concern

By Kelly Ursem

Nigeria is one of the many countries that democratized over the past decades. Nigeria’s process of democratization occurred in 1999 after 16 years of military rule. However, in most cases it is expected that democratization is the process that allows countries to transition to a more stable state, allow for development, inclusion and participation of citizens,  however, Nigeria’s democratization is a cause for concern.  

Nigeria’s transition to democracy was driven endogenously by its people by collectively electing president Olusegun Obasanjo in order to prevent another military take-over with violence, whereby they looked forward to stability, peace and prosperity. However, Nigeria faced a great backlash with several critical governing problems, including ethno-nationalism (the issue of ethic cleavages), human right violations and corruption (to name the most important dynamics) that disrupted Nigeria’s ability to develop as a state. Corruption, leadership challenges and ethnicity caused for insecurity among citizens and the nation to collectively fall down, hereby becoming one of the 20th poorest nations in the world. Thus, Nigeria’s democratization lead to disempowerment, whereby the lack of strong institutions played a major role, in addition to Nigeria not involving all its stakeholders in their decision making and development.

Whereby it could be questioned whether Nigeria should really adopt a Western-style consensual political arrangement, and instead should try to adopt a system that is more suitable to its country’s ethnic circumstances if it wants to be the “Giant of Africa” that it once hoped to be. However, if it wants to remain a strong democracy, the country needs strengthening and building of institutions of government, rather than a personalized state of authority that is faced with corruption, ethnicity, leadership failure and other national problems.